Zinedine Zidane has surprised many people with how well he has done since taking the Real Madrid job back in January.
The inexperienced Frenchman helped Los Blancos finish second in La Liga with an admirable tally of 90 points - just one behind the eventual champions Barcelona - and he’s masterminded the Spanish giants’ path to the Champions League final.
Victory over Atletico Madrid at the San Siro on Saturday evening would see Zidane add his name to the prestigious list of Champions League-winning coaches.
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And the retired midfielder has picked up an unlikely fan, it seems, in the form of Marco Materazzi.
The latter will forever be associated with Zidane. The Italian, of course, was the player Zizou head-butted at the 2006 World Cup final - the French superstar’s final match as a professional footballer.
Materazzi: Zidane is a 'fine coach'
However, Materazzi clearly respects the impressive job Zidane has done in a relatively short time at the Bernabeu.
The fact he doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of Rafael Benitez means he’s firmly in Zidane’s camp this weekend.
“I said in December that if Real fired Benitez, they’d reach the Champions League Final,” Materazzi was quoted as telling Premium Sport by Gazette dello Sport.
“I thought Madrid needed a real coach, or at least someone who wouldn’t do further damage. Zidane is a fine coach and isn’t doing damage, so naturally now Real are up there.
“It is the right place for a club that always aims to win.”
Zidane: 'If he said that, good'
Zidane, who may never forgive Materazzi for the part he played in that shocking altercation in Berlin 10 years ago, was asked what he thought about the Italian’s comments on the eve of the Champions League final.
“If he said what he said, then good,” Zidane was quoted as saying by Eurosport. “There's not much I can say."
“I’m pleased with the work we have done,” the Madrid boss added, according to Sam Wallace of the Telegraph.
Start of an unexpected friendship?
Who knows, perhaps this will be the start of an unexpected friendship.
Then again, maybe not.
Will Zinedine Zidane lead Real Madrid to Champions League glory this weekend? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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