Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that Zinedine Zidane changed the way he thought about the game, prompting a tactical shift that dramatically altered the course of his coaching career.
The Italian manager took charge of Juventus in 1999, intent on using his preferred 4-4-2 formation in Turin.
However, Ancelotti quickly realised that Zidane was a special talent and that the only way to accommodate the French trequartista in his starting line-up would be to switch to a 4-3-1-2.
The formation change failed to yield any trophies during the former Italy international’s two-season stint with the Bianconeri but Ancelotti’s 4-3-1-2 formation proved incredibly successful with his next club, AC Milan, with whom he won eight trophies in eight years.
Consequently, Ancelotti feels that he owes Zidane, whom he later employed as his assistant coach at Real Madrid, a huge debt of gratitude.
“The first time that I met Zinedine Zidane was in the first year in Juventus and I found a fantastic player,” the 56-year-old told Goal.
“Zidane was the key for me to change my idea of football because I was always used to playing 4-4-2.
“At Juventus I changed my system, to play a player like him behind two strikers because I didn’t want to change the position. He was really fantastic.”