Ronaldo Nazario revealed he never imagined seeing the “introverted” Zinedine Zidane becoming Real Madrid manager one day.
Ronaldo and Zidane were team-mates at Real for five years as part of an iconic line-up that included Luis Figo, Iker Casillas, Raul Gonzalez, David Beckham and Roberto Carlos.
The French midfielder played alongside Ronaldo 139 times at the Santiago Bernabeu. He even assisted 25 of the legendary Brazilian’s 104 goals in a Los Blancos jersey on route to La Liga and Copa de España titles.
Since hanging up his boots in 2006, Zidane gradually worked his way up from being an assistant at Real to the coach that led them to three successive Champions League crowns.
The 46-year-old is now regarded as one of the greatest managers in both his era and the club’s history.
For Ronaldo, though, the simple idea of envisaging his once shy team-mate in the dugout was beyond him.
“I never thought he would go on to be a coach – because he’s very softly spoken and introverted,” Ronaldo told AS.
“It was a great surprise seeing him making his debut on the bench and winning three Champions Leagues in a row, something which no one has ever done.”
Following a dismal spell under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, Real president Florentino Perez persuaded Zidane to return in March.
However, not even the return of the three-time Champions League-winning coach could spare their blushes as they settled for third in La Liga and 19 points behind champions Barcelona.
Ronaldo added: “Madrid are used to winning so when they don’t, it feels like it’s the end of the world.
“There’s no doubt it was a bad season for them, but rather than dwelling on the problems of the season just gone, they should be putting all their energies into forming a great side for next season.”