Zinedine Zidane says he will be working more closely with Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho this season and backs the two-time Champions League winner to get Madrid back on the road to European success.
Zidane has been working for more than a year as adviser to Madrid president Florentino Perez, but the former France playmaker is viewed as a peripheral figure at the nine-time European club champion.
With Madrid trying to wrestle the league title off fierce rival Barcelona and eager to end a run of six years without even reaching the Champions League quarterfinals, Zidane wants a bigger role.
Zidane told Europe 1 radio station in an interview on Saturday that he will be a more visible presence alongside Mourinho – who won the Champions League as FC Porto coach in 2004 and with Inter Milan last year – over the season.
"I will work with him (more regularly), this will be seen in the coming weeks. I will be the link between the first team and the president," Zidane said. "Yes, I want to work more with (Mourinho). In a way this suits me more, because I wanted to get more involved in the structure of the club."
Zidane scored 49 goals in 225 games for Madrid from 2001-06, and he played 108 times for France in a glittering career that saw him widely considered as among the game’s greatest ever players.
He scored a spectacular volley when Madrid won the Champions League for the last time in 2002. Since then, Madrid has fared poorly in the competition despite a succession of managers and big-name players.
Zidane thinks Mourinho, who also helped Chelsea win the English Premier League title twice and also guided Inter to the Italian league and cup double last term, is the right choice to hoist Madrid back into the European elite.
"He asks a lot of his players, but who protects them quite a lot. What he has shown so far (proves) that he is the coach Real Madrid needed … (someone with) a bit more discipline," Zidane said. "I hope he is the coach who makes the difference, who can help Real renew with European Cup (success), because it’s been a while."
Zidane retired from playing after the 2006 World Cup final, which France lost to Italy on penalty kicks and where he was sent off for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in extra time.
Speculation has been rife in the Spanish media that Zidane’s 15-year-old son, Enzo, may soon be selected for Spain – and not France – at junior level.
As yet, Enzo, the eldest of four sons whose mother is of Spanish origin, has yet to be called up by the Spain Under-16 coach or by France. He plays for Madrid’s junior team.
Zidane would not be drawn on whether he prefers Enzo to play for France or Spain in the future.
"The day he will be called up and selected, we will see. The important thing is that he enjoys what he’s doing and we don’t talk about him so much," Zidane said. "Talking about him is a bit annoying, because I would like him to live like a normal 15-year-old … except that he has a hard name (to bear). I just hope it doesn’t hold him back in his development."