Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest players ever to grace the sport, will as of next week take up a new post as director of football at Real Madrid, the club where he spent five seasons as a player.
The three-time World Player of the Year had previously been working as an advisor to Real president Florentino Pérez. "I am going to start working in the role of director of football to the first team," Zidane confirmed on Thursday. "[José] Mourinho has been fundamental in this, as has the president," the former France midfielder said.
Zidane, who is due to take up his post next Monday, was coy when quizzed about the exact nature of his job: "We shall see. Everyone has been asking me the same question. I will be there from Monday, until the end of the season."
Zidane's appointment comes as a surprise after the shock sacking of Jorge Valdano, Real's general director, at the end of last season. Valdano, a former player and coach at the club, and Mourinho, who joined last summer from Inter Milan, spent much of the past year at loggerheads. Given a stark choice of Valdano's head or a view of Mourinho's back as he returned to the UK's Premier League, Pérez invested the Portuguese with a broad range of powers over team matters and transfer policy.
Zidane spent last season accompanying Mourinho on the bench for Champions League matches and the head coach asked that the World Cup winner be given more first-team responsibilities.