Ron­aldo gushes praise for Zine­dine Zi­dane

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

CRIS­TIANO Ron­aldo has heaped praise on Real Madrid man­ager Zine­dine Zi­dane by in­sist­ing the French­man was the brains be­hind his side’s Cham­pi­ons League tri­umph.

Real Madrid won a record 11th Euro­pean Cup in May as the Span­ish gi­ants de­feated neigh­bours Atletico Madrid on penal­ties.

Ser­gio Ramos scored in nor­mal time be­fore Ron­aldo net­ted the win­ning penalty at the San Siro to win the pres­ti­gious tro­phy for Real Madrid.

How­ever the Por­tuguese su­per­star be­lieves the credit should go to his man­ager.

Ron­aldo said of the French­man: ‘Zi­dane was the key to our sea­son.

‘He came, made us work hard, work well. He’s a great pro­fes­sional and a great per­son.

‘In my opin­ion, his best qual­ity is his abil­ity to give play­ers a sense of calm. What coach can win the Cham­pi­ons League in six months?

‘Zi­dane de­serves much credit and I am very happy he is with us.’

The 31-year-old, who has missed Real Madrid’s open­ing two league games, is ex­pected to re­turn to first-team ac­tion against Osasuna this week­end.

He sus­tained a knee in­jury in Por­tu­gal’s Euro 2016 fi­nal win over hosts France but is now back in train­ing.

Mean­while, Romelu Lukaku has re­vealed he had the chance to join Ju­ven­tus dur­ing the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow but did not feel the time was right to move to Italy.

The Bel­gium in­ter­na­tional was hop­ing to leave Ev­er­ton be­fore the new sea­son kicked off but made a dra­matic U-turn by telling Ron­ald Koe­man he wanted to stay at Good­i­son Park.

And Lukaku has ex­plained the rea­sons be­hind his de­ci­sion to pro­long his stay on the blue half of Merseyside.

Lukaku, speak­ing to Het Nieuws­blad, said: ‘It stings a lit­tle [not be­ing in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion], but I’m some­one who be­lieves that every­thing hap­pens for a rea­son.

‘Oth­er­wise I would have gone to Ju­ven­tus in­stead of stay­ing at Ev­er­ton. But I opted for Ev­er­ton be­cause it was too early for Italy and I have not done badly here.

‘Now we have a new coach and it is com­pletely dif­fer­ent than with Mr [Roberto] Martinez, but I think we can make progress un­der Ron­ald Koe­man. It may be the last step and then look fur­ther.

‘I knew of the in­ter­est of a few clubs, it was quickly very clear that Ev­er­ton would not let me go. It was im­por­tant to me that I re­mained calm, and I did. I said to my­self that I will do my best and who knows what will hap­pen in the fu­ture.’

The 23-year-old is yet to score in three club ap­pear­ances this sea­son but has the chance to score his first Ev­er­ton goal of the cam­paign against Sun­der­land next Mon­day.

Yaya Toure will look to sign a pre-con­tract agree­ment with an­other Euro­pean club in Jan­uary — with his agent claim­ing that Manch­ester City have lost African fol­low­ers af­ter Pep Guardi­ola’s de­ci­sion to omit him from their Cham­pi­ons League squad.

The Ivo­rian’s fu­ture at City is over with Guardi­ola yet to se­lect him even on the bench and leav­ing him out of their 21-man squad to com­pete in Europe.

Toure — four-time win­ner of the African Foot­baller of the Year award — and his rep­re­sen­ta­tive have made the de­ci­sion to con­sider of­fers from Spain, Italy and France dur­ing the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow to leave on a free when his con­tract ex­pires at the end of June.

Toure’s agent Dim­itri Seluk told Sports­mail: ‘They will lose a lot of mil­lions of sup­port­ers from Africa be­cause of this de­ci­sion from Guardi­ola.

‘Now they will sup­port Manch­ester United. A lot of peo­ple in Africa say they will never see any more matches of City on TV.’

Toure turns 34 next year but is con­fi­dent he has one more move to a top Euro­pean club be­fore find­ing a more lu­cra­tive home in China, Amer­ica or the Mid­dle East. Seluk has re­vealed the player has lost seven kilo­grams in his pur­suit of fit­ness.— Sports­mail.

Zine­dine Zi­dane

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