Former Real Madrid attacker Steve McManaman has named Zinedine Zidane as the greatest player he has had the honour of playing with – but singled out the Frenchman’s nature as his best quality.
McManaman had a storied career with Liverpool and Real Madrid, playing at the Bernabeu club during their Galactico era at the turn of the millennium and scoring in the Champions League final of 2000 as they defeated Valencia 3-0 – a game in which he was nominated as the match’s outstanding player.
He was allied to many of the era’s outstanding players, including Ballon d’Or winner Michael Owen at Anfield as well as Madrid legends Iker Casillas, Roberto Carlos and Raul.
However, Zidane, who led Los Blancos to three successive Champions League titles before resigning in the summer, stands above all these stars.
“I played with many stars, but I always say Zinedine Zidane is probably the best,” he told Goal.
“Off field, he's a gentleman. He is a very nice person. For me, the most important thing is he is a very nice person.”
Meanwhile, his allegiance remains with Liverpool as he would back the Reds if they met Madrid in the Champions League final once again.
“I'll be sad if they meet again in the 2019 final, but I'd be happy if Liverpool became the winner because Madrid already won it too many times,” he laughed, considering a repeat of the 2018 final, which was won 3-1 by the Spanish club.
McManaman, who tipped Kylian Mbappe as an ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo at Madrid, moved to Spain at a time when it was unfashionable for English players to do so, and though there is a growing trend in this regard, he does not believe it is necessary for them to leave the Premier League.
“I think when you play for great clubs, you don't have to leave the Premier League anymore,” he said. “Beside that, the structure of the Premier League is already in place.”
During his career, McManaman won the 1992 FA Cup, La Liga twice and two Champions League titles.