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Real sack Benitez, appoint Zidane


Real sack Benitez, appoint Zidane

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MADRID – Real Madrid have sacked coach Rafa Benitez after less than half a season in charge and promoted their former France great Zinedine Zidane from the B team to replace him, president Florentino Perez said on Monday.

Perez announced the dismissal of the experienced Benitez, who had a contract until June 2018, following a board meeting and Zidane was present at the president’s news conference at the Bernabeu stadium.

“Firstly I would like to thank the club and the president for giving me the chance to coach this team,” Zidane, known as “Zizou” and a hero to Real’s fans, told reporters.

“What we need to do now, and what I will try to do, is try to do my best so that this team is a winner at the end of the season,” added the 43-year-old, one of the club’s youngest-ever coaches.

“The important thing is to be with the team tomorrow and start work,” he said. “I will put all the heart I have into the job for this club and try to make sure things work out well.”

Real did not immediately specify the length of Zidane’s contract.

He is the 11th coach Perez has installed during two terms in charge and it will be the former France captain’s first top-flight management job.

He played for Real for five seasons after joining from Juventus in August 2001 and helped them win their ninth European crown with a stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final.

Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Valencia, when Real twice surrendered the lead, left them third in the standings, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and two behind champions Barcelona, who have a game in hand. (Reuters)