Two-time former Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello has said Zinedine Zidane was right to leave on his own terms, as president Florentino Perez had come close to sacking him anyway.
Zidane shocked the football world with Thursday's snap decision to resign just days after securing a third Champions League trophy in just two and a half years as Madrid coach. But, speaking on Sky Sports Italy, Capello said that from his own experience at the Bernabeu, Zidane had made an intelligent decision.
"Zidane took the correct decision, he knew that Florentino would have sacked him if he did not win the Champions League," Capello said. "I was sacked after winning La Liga. It was a thought which was there before, when things were not going well, and the distance to Barcelona in La Liga was huge."
Capello added that Zidane's successor faced a difficult job, including possibly having to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.
"The new coach will have to put back together a jigsaw which could be losing pieces, including the most important Cristiano Ronaldo," he said. "He wants to return to Manchester United, with [Jose] Mourinho.
"If Madrid lose Cristiano's goals, they must get most of them from somebody else. [Robert] Lewandowski could come in place of [Karim] Benzema, but Florentino is in charge, there's nothing anybody else can do. So Zidane did the right thing, now he's not subject to anyone."
Madrid legend and current club ambassador Raul Gonzalez said in Marca that Zidane deserved thanks and a chance to take some time out after a demanding few years in charge.
"You have to accept his decision and just thank Zidane for everything he has done," he said. "Three Champions Leagues, a La Liga title... This profession is not easy, it is demanding, and sometimes you must stop for a while to recharge your batteries."
Former Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas also pointed out that whoever takes over now -- with Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino among the potential candidates -- had a tough act to follow.
"Zidane's legacy will be difficult to improve upon," Casillas said in AS. "It will be tough for the coach who takes his place, three Champions leagues, it will be difficult."