Soccer and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane has replaced Rafa Benitez as manager of the club where he finished his career.
Real Madrid president Florentino Peréz made the announcement Monday at Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Benitez is only seven months into a three-year contract at the Bernabéu, but Peréz is famously impatient with his managers. Real are in third place in La Liga, four points behind cross-town rivals Atlético and two points behind arch-rival Barcelona, which has a game in hand. Benitez lost favor with fans in November when Real were crushed 4-0 by Barcelona in the season’s first Clásico.
After a legendary career that ended with a red card for his headbutt of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final, Zidane served as an adviser to Peréz and an ambassador for Qatar’s controversial 2022 World Cup bid. He moved into coaching as a Real Madrid assistant in 2013-14, then took over the manager’s job at Real Madrid Castilla, Real’s top farm team.
Zidane led France to the 1998 World Cup title, scoring twice in the final, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003. After starting his career in his native France with Cannes and Bordeaux, he won two Serie A titles with Juventus before spending the last six years of his career with Real.