The manager’s return to the Spanish giants after the champions were knocked out of the Champions league left one of his young stars in awe
Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior says he was nervous when Zinedine Zidane first returned to the club following nine months away.
That appointment proved disastrous, and Real were again searching for a manager by October when Lopetegui was sacked with the club languishing in midtable.
Zidane returned following the removal of Santiago Solari after the champions were knocked out of the Champions league by Ajax in March.
And the Brazilian Vinicius Junior, who joined Real shortly after the Frenchman’s initial departure, said the arrival of his “idol” Zidane left him feeling nervous.
“He speaks every day with me and does everything to make me happy, like my team-mates on the pitch,” the Brazilian told Goal and Spox. “Zidane is a big idol for everyone, he was a legend as a player and now he is a legend as a manager. I was nervous when he entered the locker-room the first time after his return.
“We are confident and ready to play a better season than the last one. We should not overrate the results in the pre-season.”
Vinicius Junior, who became the first Real Madrid player born in the year 2000 to feature for the first team, missed a large part of last season with injury, turning out only 18 times during his debut campaign.
“I have to find the rhythm,” he said of his return to fitness. “Mentally, I feel even better than last season, I enjoy being here and playing with joy, that’s the most important thing.”
The Brazilian also admitted that the Spanish side wasn’t his only option when he decided to move to Europe, but says he couldn’t pass up on the chance to join Los Blancos.
“I had many offers before I joined Real Madrid, including from Germany, but it has always been clear to me that if there’s a chance to go to Madrid then I’m going to Madrid.
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“Joining Real Madrid was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Despite not having played together for long, the youngster has formed a fruitful relationship with team-mate Karim Benzema during his brief spell in the Spanish capital and says the controversial former France international has been a guiding force as he has settled in Spain.
“He gives me a lot of advice on how to behave on the pitch,” said Vinicius Junior. “He is a great player, but also a great person. He is a friend, like every other teammate.”