MADRID - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is leaving the European champions after winning an unprecedented third straight Champions League title, he told a news conference on Thursday.
"I think it's the moment, both for me, the team and the club [to step down]. It's a strange moment to do so, I know, but an important one too. I had to do this for everyone," he said. "This side should carry on winning and needs a change for this. After three years it needs another voice, another method of work, for this I took this decision."
Zidane became the first coach to win a third straight European Cup when Real beat Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday, capping a remarkable period in his first job in senior club management.
"I love this club a lot, the president, who gave me everything, to play first at this great club. I'll always be thankful. Today I need to change, for me, for everyone, for this I've taken the decision," Zidane added.
The Frenchman took over a divided dressing room after the sacking of Rafael Benitez in January, 2016 and immediately set about uniting the squad.
He claimed the first of his hat-trick of European triumphs two years ago when Real defeated local rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final. A year later he led Real to their first European Cup and La Liga double in 59 years.
Real finished three points ahead of Barcelona as they won their first league title since 2012 before crushing Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final to become the first side to win the competition in its current format in back-to-back seasons.
Zidane won nine major honors as Real coach and the 45-year-old's crowning glory came last Saturday as he joined an elite group of managers including Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti by lifting the European Cup for the third time as coach.