Zinédine Zidane explains how he found his feet as Real Madrid coach, and tells UEFA.com about the "rubbish cross from Roberto Carlos" that led to the goal of a lifetime.
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Hired in January, Zinédine Zidane was unable to do quite enough to wrest the Spanish title away from Barcelona, but the Real Madrid coach can go one better in Milan and give his side the biggest prize in club football for the 11th time. The 43-year-old talked through a busy five months with UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: You have been in this job for five months. What have been the greatest challenges so far?
Zinédine Zidane: When I took over it was a new thing for me, but we had to win games and be ready right away. We worked hard right away for three weeks to prepare, as we were out of the Spanish Cup. That work was very important, especially physically. And then we had to win our games. That's what we've been doing, and now we've reached the end of the season and still have the most important game of the campaign to go.
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UEFA.com: What do you expect from the final?
Zidane: Atlético are special opponents; they've beaten the two other best teams in Europe, so it will be a very difficult game. They will defend really well as they always do, but I don't think you can say that Atlético Madrid are a team that only defends; they play good football too, and can make it difficult for their opponents. We know that, we'll prepare for it and we'll try to play our game so that we don't have any regrets at the end.
UEFA.com: You joined Real Madrid aged 29 and spent five seasons in the team. What does this club mean to you?
Zidane: Playing for Real Madrid was the best thing that ever happened to me. I dreamed of playing for Real Madrid – I wanted to wear that famous white shirt. And it all came true thanks to the president who brought me here as a player. And now I'm lucky enough to coach the greatest club in the world, so I'm a happy man.
UEFA.com: You won the UEFA Champions League in 2002 in Glasgow with Madrid. Why was it so special?
Zidane: The only title I hadn't won was the Champions League, so to win it with Real Madrid was the icing on the cake. I also won it when I was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant, along with Paul Clement [in 2014], and now I have another opportunity to contest the final, this time as head coach. I cherish every single moment I've had here, and I tell myself that I've been very, very lucky to have had such a great career at this great club.
UEFA.com: That goal in Glasgow. What made you take a first-time shot when the cross from Roberto Carlos arrived at such an awkward height?
Zidane: Yes, that volley – and especially from a rubbish cross from Roberto Carlos! You only score a volley like that once in your career. I have tried to do it again, but it was something that just happened that night, and it was during the Champions League final. There's no explanation for it, you just have to be happy and enjoy scoring a goal like that.