Fans compare Zidane to Di Stefano, says Real Madrid president Perez

Madrid, Jan 27 (IANS) Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said many fans often compare current head coach of the team Zinedine Zidane to the Spanish club’s legend Alfredo Di Stefano.

De Stefano is regarded the best footballer ever to have played for Madrid, having won five straight European Cups in the 1950s. He also managed the club after ending his playing career.

Zidane also enjoys similar status at Madrid, helping them win their 9th Europen Cup in 2001-02.

Perez said in reference to Zidane “People here just love him,” reports Efe.

“Lots of them compare him with Di Stefano in terms of his importance. I saw Di Stefano play and now many new generations can say: I saw Zidane play,” he said.

Perez also revealed that Zidane took up the coaching job without hesitation and “said yes immediately, without a moment’s thought”.

“He made it so clear that I knew he was ready for this new and exciting challenge.”

The president of the capital side also highlighted the situation of French player Karim Benzema, who is under investigation for being allegedly involved in a sex-tape blackmailing plot against fellow countryman Mathieu Valbuena.

“We’ve supported him and will always do so,” Perez declared.

“Having spoken with him, I’m convinced that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. He’s a good lad and I have no doubt that, above all else, he just wanted to help his friend Mathieu Valbuena,” Perez explained.

When asked about FIFA sanctions against Real Madrid and rivals Atletico Madrid that prevented them from enlisting new players until summer 2017 for breaching the regulations concerning signing minors, Perez said “It’s painful”.

“It’s terrible to see Real Madrid’s image tarnished with all of this. We’re convinced that the whole thing is a mistake,” he insisted.

“It’s absurd to think that Real Madrid might be punished for failing to protect underage players, when their protection has always been a priority for us.”

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