Zinedine Zidane hailed Real Madrid as the “club of my life” after a dramatic Champions League penalty shoot-out victory over Atletico Madrid that left Diego Simeone pondering his future.
Former France and Real Madrid forward Zidane scored the winning goal when Real they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to lift the title in Glasgow in 2002.
Having been the assistant to Carlo Ancelotti when the Italian coaching great steered Real to the 10th — ‘La Decima’ — title in Lisbon two years ago, Zidane now gets a taste of the trophy for a third time after joining an elite few who have lifted the trophy as a player and a coach.
Once a favourite at Juventus, the 43-year-old Zidane said there is now no other club in his heart.
“I was given the chance to come to this amazing club, and then to coach it. I have a phenomenal team and great players who are also talented, and it was together we achieved what we did tonight,” he said.
“I’ve won the Champions League as a player, as an assistant and now as a head coach. I’m so proud to be part of this great club. It’s the club of my life, the one that made me who I am.
“Carlo Ancelotti wanted me to experience this feeling, as the number one coach, and he was right. I’m so happy.”
Two years ago, Real captain Sergio Ramos levelled at the death to keep Real in the final, before they ran riot in extra-time to prevail 4-1.
Atletico came to Milan determined to make amends, but Simeone’s men were dominated throughout at the San Siro stadium.
A Ramos opener on 15 minutes took the wind out of Atletico’s sails and French striker Antoine Griezmann put them further off course when he slammed a penalty off the underside of the crossbar seconds into the second half.
Despite Yannick Carrasco levelling on 79 minutes, Atletico were undone on penalties after club favourite Juanfran’s effort came off the upright, handing Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to secure Real’s 11th crown with his subsequent spot kick.
It left Simeone devastated, and the Argentinian gave an indication of his feelings when he admitted he could be pushed to think about his future with the two-time Europa League winners.
“I think I could start thinking about my future,” Simeone said cryptically. “It puts a lot of years on you.”
He added: “Congratulations to Real Madrid — once again they were superior to us, this time on penalties.
“What really hurts me is to see the hurt of the people who’ve paid to come here — I feel a bit responsible that I wasn’t able to give them what they wanted. That’s what really hurts.
“I feel responsible for the fans who have bought their tickets.”
Atletico have still never lifted the European Cup, also losing the 1974 final to Bayern Munich in a replay. – Agence France-Presse