Zinedine Zidane has cast a little uncertainty over his long-term future at Real Madrid, as he suggested the demands of management will lead to an early retirement.
Zidane has had a significant impact on Los Blancos, first during a five-year stint as a player and now as coach, with the Frenchman in his second spell at the helm.
During his first he led the club to an historic three successive Champions League successes, and although he left soon after the third, he returned last year following the ill-fated tenures of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.
He has Los Blancos back on track this term as they sit top of LaLiga, ahead of Barcelona by virtue of a better head-to-head record with seven matches to go.
But rarely has the possibility of a long coaching career been associated with Zidane, who, even when unemployed between his two Madrid spells was only ever closely linked with the France job.
And ahead of facing rock-bottom Espanyol, who sacked their coach Abelardo earlier in the day, Zidane brought up the subject of his future when asked about Sergio Ramos.
When asked if he thought Ramos would become a club icon when he played alongside the centre-back, Zidane said: “It was clear that he could achieve what he is achieving, because he already had quality and above all personality.
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“He always wanted to win and make history in this club. I am not surprised by what Sergio is doing. We are lucky to have him in Madrid and I hope that continues until the end of his career. I am not going to coach another 20 years, I am going to retire sooner. Anything can happen.”
He added: “I was a better footballer than a coach, but there were better footballers than me as well, although I’m happy with what I’ve done.
“I’m not going to coach for 20 years, I don’t know how many. I don’t plan anything, what encourages me is the day-to-day. Then I will do other things.
“In my head I have always been a footballer, I had 18 or 19 years as a player and when I was asked if I was going to coach, I would say no. In the end I was, but it’s demanding – I don’t think I’ll be here for another 20 years.”
But he was eager to assure fans that he is in no rush to leave, adamant he is still happy.
“No one should interpret what I say,” he continued. “The reality is I’m managing the best club in the world and I’m happy, regardless of what happens here.
“But I know that when we lose the press will be out, the knives will be out, that won’t change. We are winning now, but like I said, today we’ve yet to win the title. We must continue working, training hard.
“Everyone is going in same direction. We cannot control external matters, only what we can control. We shouldn’t worry about what goes on outside Real Madrid and I think my future is the least of concerns at the moment.”