Zinedine Zidane has been a “frightening” success at Real Madrid, says Michael Owen, with the Frenchman offering little to suggest that he would be a top boss during his playing days.
Widely considered to be one of the finest players of his generation, the man now in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu was not considered to be a coach of the future.
He possessed the talent and experience to pass on to stars of tomorrow, but was seen by those around him to be too introverted to be a leading tactician.
Owen admits to having formed that opinion during his time alongside Zidane in Madrid, but the former Blancos striker concedes that he has been proved wrong by a Liga and Champions League winner.
“I never had Zidane down as a manager, I must admit,” the 2001 Ballon d’Or winner told the Daily Mail.
“He was reasonably quiet in the dressing room. He didn’t miss a trick. You’d see him assessing the situation but I didn’t think he would want to go into management.
“It’s quite frightening what he has done [winning two Champions League trophies, a league title and two FIFA Club World Cups since taking over in 2016].
“There’s been talk of him getting sacked even after winning back-to-back Champions Leagues and possibly three on the spin. Yes, there are some great players at the club. But he’s shaped them into a great team.
“To do that, so young, in his first real job, at a club which is so political. There are two huge papers [covering Real Madrid] fighting with each other. You have to keep both happy, or else one turns on you. Then you have the president. Then you have huge egos in the team. You’re juggling so many balls, more so than at any other club in the world. To do that with no experience of being a manager…”
Zidane is currently chasing down a hat-trick of Champions League wins, with an eagerly-anticipated clash with Liverpool in Kiev on May 26 set to pitch two of Europe’s most attacking teams into combat.
Owen added on that contest: “This could go either way. They’re contrasting teams in terms of experience and styles. I know everyone is putting Real Madrid as favourites but it’s a toss-of-a-coin game for me.
“I think we might know after 15-20 minutes where the game is going. If Liverpool are getting success, they could run away.
“The buzz around Anfield is huge. The style of play around Liverpool is a massive draw for neutrals. But if you’re a fan, it’s worth every penny to watch this Liverpool team. They rarely disappoint, especially in the big games.”