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Zidane explains his surprising decision to leave Real Madrid

Published: Updated:

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is leaving the European champions after winning an unprecedented third straight Champions League title, he told a news conference on Thursday.

"I think it’s the moment, both for me, the team and the club (to step down). It’s a strange moment to do so, I know, but an important one too. I had to do this for everyone," he said.

"This side should carry on winning and needs a change for this. After three years it needs another voice, another method of work, for this I took this decision."

Zidane became the first coach to win a third straight European Cup when Real beat Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday, capping a remarkable period in his first job in senior club management.

"I love this club a lot, the president, who gave me everything - to play first at this great club. I’ll always be thankful. Today I need to change, for me, for everyone, for this I’ve taken the decision," Zidane added.

“I have made the decision to not continue next year as manager of Real Madrid. This is a strange moment but a very important moment. And I had to do this for everyone. This team must continue winning and it needs a change that will be good for everyone.

"Madrid has given everything to me and I will be close to this club for the rest of my life. But the team needs another methodology and that is why I have made this decision. For me and for everyone, today, a change is needed and that is why I have reached this decision. I am grateful to the fans.

"There are difficult moments when you can wonder whether you are the right person still. I do not forget the hard times, as well as the good times, and that makes you reflect. And this is the right moment. The players need a change, I want to thank them too, as in the end they are the ones who fight on the pitch. This is a demanding club, not easy for them, with this great history. We always want more from the players, and a moment comes when I cannot ask them for more. They need another voice to return to winning again.

"I am doing this for the good of this team, for this club. It would have been difficult for me to win again next year. There have been good moments, but also difficult times. I do not forget that. And at this club you must know this: I do not want to start a season and have a bad time, I want to end with Real Madrid when everything is going well. I did it as a player, and now again as a coach. This the right moment to end things well.

"There are many reasons for this. I am not tired of coaching after three years. But it is the moment to [leave] here. ... I am not going to coach another team [right away]."

The Frenchman took over a divided dressing room after the sacking of Rafael Benitez in January, 2016 and immediately set about uniting the squad.

He claimed the first of his hat-trick of European triumphs two years ago when Real defeated local rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final. A year later he led Real to their first European Cup and La Liga double in 59 years.

Real finished three points ahead of Barcelona as they won their first league title since 2012 before crushing Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final to become the first side to win the competition in its current format in back-to-back seasons.

Zidane won nine major honors as Real coach and the 45-year-old’s crowning glory came last Saturday as he joined an elite group of managers including Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti by lifting the European Cup for the third time as coach.