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"It's his ambition to be the best," Zinédine Zidane said of one of his successors at Real Madrid CF, Cristiano Ronaldo, as he told UEFA.com what makes the club special.
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Now on the coaching staff at Real Madrid CF, for whom he scored one of the most famous goals in history in the UEFA Champions League final, Zinédine Zidane was perhaps the greatest player of his age, but the 42-year-old is dazzled by what he sees of Cristiano Ronaldo in training every day.
UEFA.com: What qualities enabled Madrid to win 'La Décima' last season?
Zinédine Zidane: Whatever the case may be, what's certain is that Real Madrid always have the duty to win everything in their grasp, whether that's the UEFA Champions League, the domestic title or the Spanish Cup. Real Madrid always have a team capable of winning a trophy every year.
UEFA.com: Your incredible goal helped Madrid lift their ninth European Cup in 2002. Did it ever occur to you that 12 years would pass before the club won the trophy again?
Zidane: That shows just how difficult it is to win the UEFA Champions League. You don't just play three or four matches and then proclaim yourselves champions. It's a competition that is so demanding and so exciting that it's really difficult to win.
UEFA.com: Can you describe that incredible goal in the 2002 final?
Zidane: It all started with a one-two. [Santiago] Solari played the ball to Roberto Carlos on the wing. Then Roberto Carlos put in a cross ... and a lot has been said about his cross. It was an unusually high cross, but if he'd put in a perfect cross maybe I wouldn't have scored that volley, so actually I'm happy about the cross he delivered, even if it did drop to me from high up. As a result, I was able to produce that volley and to score that goal. So I wouldn't change anything about his cross, even though from time to time I remember that it was a very average cross. The only thing I told myself was to make sure I got well over the ball and got my body shape perfect, which is what I did. It's definitely something that comes off once in a lifetime, and it happened to me on the day of the UEFA Champions League final.
UEFA.com: What does the UEFA Champions League mean for Madrid?
Zidane: There is a pressure when you are part of this team. Your objective is always to win the UEFA Champions League. It is good to have that pressure – to say to yourself that in this club, your objective is to win the Champions League, because you know what you are working towards.
UEFA.com: You see Cristiano Ronaldo in training every day. What is so special about him?
Zidane: It's his relentless desire to make progress that surprises me. At the same time, I'm not surprised. The great thing for me is that he always wants to make progress. Even if Cristiano Ronaldo wins trophies and scores a lot of goals every season, his aim is always to make progress. He always wants to show, even in training, that he wants to win. It's incredible. That's what makes him stay at the top – it's his ambition to be the best.