Real Madrid Sack Benitez, Zidane Takes the Reigns

Rafa Benitez out after seven months at Real Madrid.

by Sean Newell
05 January 2016, 10:22am

After just seven months, Real Madrid have relieved manager Rafa Benitez of his coaching duties and replaced him with 43-year-old French legend Zinedine Zidane. Benitiz's fate was determined after an emergency board meeting on Monday following a 2-2 draw against Valencia on Sunday. The move was expected for some time, with growing displeasure in club results — including a 4-0 drubbing from rivals Barcelona in November — and reports that Benitez was not getting along with some of the bigger names in the dressing room.

You are no doubt familiar with his replacement, who notoriously head-butted Italy's Marco Materazzi in the chest during the 2006 World Cup Final. That was his final act on a football pitch. Despite this, he also received the Golden Ball award as player of the tournament. Zidane is considered one of the greatest players of his generation, and was a member of Real Madrid's famed Galacticos. In 2001, Madrid paid a then-record 75 million euros to acquire the Frenchman from Juventus.

Since retiring in 2006, Zidane has remained with Real Madrid, first as an advisor and then as an assistant coach. In 2014 he became manager of Madrid's B Team, Castilla.