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Published: 08:19 | 5/1/16

Benitez sacked by Real

Zinedine Zidane takes over at the Bernabeu

Rafael Benitez has been sacked by Real Madrid just seven months after taking charge at the Bernabeu.

Madrid are currently third in La Liga with Sunday's 2-2 draw with Valencia leaving them four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

Benitez's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks with club president Florentino Perez forced to call a press conference on November 23 to deny reports that the Spaniard was heading for the exit door.

The Spaniard once again faced questions about his future after the draw at Valencia and on Monday Perez called an emergency meeting to discuss Benitez's position.

Despite only losing three of his 25 games in charge, the board took the decision to relive Benitez of his duties.

Real president Florentino Perez said: "I am here to say that the board has just decided, in a difficult decision, especially for me, to end contract of Rafa as first-team coach.

"I would like to make it clear that he is a great professional."

Zinedine Zidane, currently coaching Real’s Castilla squad, is to take charge of the Spanish giants.

"Zinedine Zidane knows better than anyone what it is like to stand at the front and lead Real Madrid. Throughout his career he has always been able to face up to huge challenges," Perez added.

"He is one of the greatest players of all time. Zinedine, this is your club, your stadium and you have all our support. Zidane you are, from this moment, the trainer of Real Madrid."

Speaking to reporters, Zidane said: “I want to thank the club and you, president, for giving me the chance to coach this great team.

"Today is a very exciting day for me, even more so than when I signed as a player. I am going to give all my heart for this club.

“We have the best team and the best supporters in the world. I will do everything possible to win something this season."

Zidane has been a firm favourite at the Bernabeu since moving to Real from Juventus for a then world record fee of £45.8m in 2001. He went on to help Real win the Champions League in 2002 before claiming the La Liga title the following season.

He has been coach of the club's B team since 2014 and was a key member of Carlo Ancelotti's coaching staff when Real won the Champions League for a tenth time in 2014.

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