Zidane: Still a lot to be done at Real Madrid

"I am putting all my passion into the job (Real Madrid coach). Even if I have won the Champions League after just five months into the job, I realise that there is a lot of work left to be done to be a good coach. This is just the beginning."

Zinedine Zidane took questions in his stride on first-ever India visit, due to an initiative by Kanakia Spaces, a real estate company.   -  REUTERS

Zinedine Zidane, a two-time World Cup finalist and relishing early success as manager with Real Madrid, is an admirer of Pep Guardiola and feels it is too early to think about taking charge at France. A visionary on the turf with the ball at his feet, Zidane took questions in his stride on first-ever India visit, due to an initiative by Kanakia Spaces, a real estate company.

Excerpts from a chat at the National Sports Club of India:

Question: France is going through a difficult time. The terrorist attacks took place and with the Euro 2016 happening, this is a good time for the country to rise (above fear). Your view?

Answer: The focus during the competition will be on the positive side. The players will aim to do well. It will be a wonderful time for all the French people, a time for togetherness and an opportunity to forget the hard times.

France has won this event two times. As the host nation, is there added pressure or do you see it as home advantage?

There is no tension, it is a bonus to play in your own country. It would be like having a 12th player in the team with all the support. France will have to play, stick to their philosophy to win the tournament, without relying on support.

Do you feel this France team at Euro 2016 have the mental strength to make it?

Maybe they are a young side, but have a wealth of experience. French players are already playing in good teams all over Europe. Youth is very positive, keep fighting, fighting. Remember our team which won the Euro (2000) was a squad with limited experience

Euro 2016, your favourite?

I don’t have a crystal ball to gaze into. You never know what can happen in a competition. I am passionate just like you. I will watch all the games with keen interest, to understand tactics and strategy.

One side in the Euros that you like the look of?

You have to see if team spirit is strong, if everybody is ready to play as a unit. I like Belgium, they are an excellent team on paper, but on match day, we have to see whether they can deliver the best game.

Based on your Real Madrid experience as manager, do you plan to coach France any time?

France already have Didier Deschamps. It is a different team with a different manager. I wish him the best. I am very happy with Real Madrid and I cannot predict the future.

Pep Guardiola is changing the way players look at football. He did that at Barcelona, then Bayern Munich. What do you expect from him at Manchester City?

He (Pep Guardiola) is one of the best and will do well wherever he goes. He is still young and fresh. Really lucky to be part of one of the best clubs in the world.

Your football philosophy about what Real Madrid should do under your managership?

I am putting all my passion into the job. Even if I have won the Champions League after five months into the job, I realise that there is a lot of work left to be done to be a good coach. This is just the beginning.

You have been reported as saying that Isco reminds you of yourself at his age. He is getting a lot of game time at Real Madrid? Pogba is also being linked to Real Madrid?

Isco is very young and plays with his own style. He does not copy the Zidane style. He has a great future because he is very young. Pogba belongs to Juventus and everyone wants to have him because he is very talented.

Cristiano Ronaldo is 31 and the Euro Championship win is lacking in his CV. How important is this tournament for him?

He has won everything and winning with his national team will mean a lot for him.

Winning the UEFA Champions League as a player and then as manager, your reaction?

Carlo Ancelotti, under whom I was an assistant coach, told me two years ago, that he wished that I should win the competition as a manager of Real Madrid. It is a great feeling to win. As a player it was great, as a trainer it's a whole different feeling.

Since you took over at Real Madrid their performance has improved? What changes have you brought about?

I brought my experience, not as a trainer but as a player first of all. I knew all the players of the team. I looked at the capacity of all team members to work. The relationship between me and the players is also a factor.

Can you describe the pressure as the Real Madrid manager, as winning the La Liga has not happened for some time?

It (managing) can stop anytime, so I want to enjoy every day I am manager of Real Madrid. My target is to improve myself and the team.

Your thoughts on racism in football?

Racism in any case is a minority. We have to fight against it. It does exist everywhere, but I haven't faced it personally. I cannot imagine life without the mix of origins, not only in football, but also in life.

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