REAL Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane admits winning the Champions League is equal to lifting the World Cup in his footballing achievements.
Real claimed their 11th European Cup on penalties as Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner immediately after Juanfran’s effort hit a post, the Atletico full-back being the only player to miss in the shoot-out.
Sergio Ramos’s controversial finish had given Real a 15th-minute lead that was preserved when Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty. Substitute Yannick Carrasco equalised to send the final at Milan’s San Siro into extra time.
Zidane, who only took over from the sacked Rafael Benitez in January, has won the Champions League as both a player and manager for the club.
“At the end, getting the Champions League is the best along with winning the World Cup,” said the Frenchman, a world champion in 1998.
“After all the work we did I am very proud. it has been a phenomenal job.
“I’m happy because I’ve been part of this great club for a long time now. I feel really very proud.”
Zidane took over with the club in difficulties but managed to finish the season on a high after domestic disappointment, although questions still remain about his long-term future at the Bernabeu.
“The future? We’ll see, now let’s enjoy this,” he added. “Of course I dreamed. You always have to dream, think positive, be optimistic, and know that things can get done with work and effort.
“I’m very happy for everything we’ve achieved together. It’s not easy at all. We’ve really worked hard, fought it out.
“When you have players of this calibre, with this talent, you can achieve something big like we have tonight.”
Ronaldo claimed he had envisaged scoring the winning goal and paid tribute to Zidane.
“I had a vision. I knew I was going to score the winning goal,” he said. “I asked [Zidane] to let me take the fifth penalty because I was going to score the winning goal.
“Zidane has done a phenomenal job. He deserves it, he has humility and I’m happy for him.”
Ramos, named man of the match, admitted an 11th European Cup ensured a disappointing season had been turned around.
“We had a unique opportunity to make history after a tough season,” he said. “We’ve had some ups and downs and the reward is this title, an award for the work and sacrifice.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who tasted agonising defeat for the second time in three seasons, was gracious in defeat.
“I’d like to congratulate Real Madrid. Once again they were superior to us, this time at penalties,” said the Argentine. “The team that wins is always the best team. I don’t believe in excuses.
“I need to go home and heal my wounds. I’ve never had it easy but two finals in three years is a magnificent achievement. We need to continue working. I need to think things out on my part.
“It puts a lot of years on you. I don’t know which defeat hurts the most. What really hurts me is to see the hurt of the people who’ve paid to come here – I feel a bit responsible that I wasn’t able to give them what they wanted. That’s what really hurts.
“But I feel proud of my players. We had to defeat Barcelona and Bayern [to get to the final]. I love my players.”
Although Simeone refused to commit his future to Atletico, midfielder Tiago Mendes is convinced the Argentine will remain.
“I have no doubt that Simeone will stay with us,” said Tiago. “The blow is hard to take, but we’ll get up. We always have. We’re very proud of what we did this season. Our efforts were impressive, but it couldn’t be crowned with a victory. Still, this is football so we’ll look for another opportunity.”
Meanwhile, James Rodriguez has spoken of his desire to remain at Real Madrid, despite remaining on the bench for the final.
The Colombia international, who joined them in 2014 for a fee that could rise to £71 million, is yet to truly establish himself at the club and there has been speculation surrounding his future.
However, he insists he can improve from the difficulties he has experienced.
“The season was a little strange but when you have bad things you learn too. Eventually you learn every day,” said the 24-year-old.“You never know in football but I want to stay here and my idea is to be here for many more years.
“I think I need to look forward. I’m happy here. All my people are happy. This is the ideal club and I want to be here.
“I’m happy, everyone played a great game and in the end it was good. I wanted the team to win. What’s best is I get another Champions League [winner’s medal].”