Real Madrid have sacked coach Rafa Benitez after only seven months in charge and promoted former France and Real great Zinedine Zidane from the B team to replace him, president Florentino Perez said.
Perez announced the decision at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Monday, a day after Madrid's 2-2 draw at Valencia deepened a crisis that started with an embarrassing 4-0 home loss to Barcelona in November.
Madrid won seven of nine matches since that demoralising defeat but fans continued to demand the departure of Benitez, whose Liverpool side won the Champions League in 2005.
Real Madrid are third in the Spanish league, four points behind leader Atletico Madrid and two behind Barcelona, who have a game in hand.
France great Zidane, who was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant in 2014 when Real Madrid won the Champions League, has been coaching Madrid's "B'' team in the third division.
|Zidance had been coaching Real Madrid's "B" team in the third division [EPA]
Zidane is the 11th coach Perez has installed during two terms in charge.
He played for Real for five seasons after joining from Juventus in August 2001 and helped them win their ninth European crown with a stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final.
"Firstly I would like to thank the club and the president for giving me the chance to coach this team," said Zidane, who ended his career at Real Madrid.
"We have the best club in the world and the best fans in the world. I'm more emotional now than when I signed as a player."
It will be the first major coaching job for the former playmaker, whose career was marked by greatness on the field but also by his head-butting of an Italian defender in the 2006 World Cup final.
There had been speculation about former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho taking over at Madrid, but Perez said the Portuguese coach's return was not in the team's plans for now.
Madrid's next match is at Granada on Sunday in the 22nd round of the Spanish league.