Zidane: 'No words can do Cristiano Ronaldo justice'

Zinédine Zidane talks to UEFA.com about Cristiano Ronaldo's "unbelievable stats", his passion for coaching and his admiration for Juventus pair Massimiliano Allegri and Gianluigi Buffon.

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How would you analyse your time in charge of Real Madrid since taking over in early 2016?

I'm happy to have been given this opportunity. It's not an easy job, but it's a passion for me. Football is one of my real passions. I've worked hard. I spent three or four years getting myself ready to become a coach.

Now I have the opportunity to coach this wonderful club, so I really get to live my passion from day to day. We may well have fantastic staff, but what we've achieved is also down to the fact we have wonderful players.

They bought into the message that everyone is important and that's what we've all been showing. Now we just have the most difficult hurdle to overcome and we haven't won anything yet. At the same time, it's the most wonderful hurdle.

Highlights: Ronaldo's 100% record v Buffon
Highlights: Ronaldo's 100% record v Buffon

We'd like to ask you about Cristiano Ronaldo – his position on the pitch, the number of games he's played, the way you've been keeping him fresh. What do you make of his development?

It's a decision we made together, based on discussions together. We're intelligent and even he sometimes needs to play a bit less. It's not because he isn't as physically fit, but because he wants to head into the final stage of the season, when everything is at stake, in top form.

He has played a lot this year, but there have been a few occasions when he has been left out to have a breather. Now he's in fantastic shape for what remains of the campaign. It isn't just about this year, it's the accumulation of all the seasons in his career in which he has played 60 or 70 matches. It gets to the point where you need to take a breather.

What do you make of his achievement in reaching 100 UEFA Champions League goals?

As you well know, there are no words that can do Cristiano Ronaldo justice. He shows what he's all about every time he's on the pitch, by scoring goals. He's now got more than 400 goals for Real Madrid in all competitions These are unbelievable stats, but with him anything's possible.

1998 final highlights: Real Madrid 1-0 Juventus
1998 final highlights: Real Madrid 1-0 Juventus

The last time Juventus and Madrid met in a final was 1998, when you were a player for Juve – what are your memories of that night?

Moments like that are tough and sad, but they're part and parcel of any footballer's career and you've got to accept them. I'm just happy I got to win the competition later with Real Madrid. All careers leave you with both good and bad memories.

What do you make of Massimiliano Allegri as a coach?

He deserves everything that has been happening to him. He has shown he is among the top coaches in the world. He has rebuilt, or at the very least improved, this Juve team. Of course it's down to the club and the players too, but above all it's down to the coach heading the project. I have great respect for him.

As a leader, what does Gianluigi Buffon bring to Juventus?

I think it's about what he has achieved. He's a born leader. He has been an extraordinary player throughout his career.

He's a leader on the pitch and a great captain. In terms of everything he has said about players that he has met, he has always looked out for his fellow professionals. That shows you the sort of person he is, besides being a great goalkeeper and leader.

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