The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Zidane appeals on Becks’ behalf

Tokyo: France midfielder Zinedine Zidane has warned Real Madrid fans not to expect too much too soon from new signing David Beckham.

“You should not expect more from him than he has already shown at Manchester United,” Zidane said on Monday. “There is already a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He needs time to settle. Beckham should be himself and bring his own qualities to the team.”

Real Madrid, who play J-League club FC Tokyo on Tuesday on the second leg of their pre-season tour of Asia, signed the England captain for $40 million last month — money that Zidane thinks was well spent.

“In my first season we won the Champions League and last season we won the Spanish title,” said Zidane, who joined Real for a world-record fee of $64.4 million in 2001.

“Every year they raise the bar at Real Madrid. First there was (Luis) Figo, then me, then Ronaldo. With Beckham coming and with the strength of this team as a whole, the objective will be to win both (the Champions League and Spanish title) this season.”

However, Zidane admitted that Real Madrid would be under extra pressure to become champions of Europe for the tenth time after beating Spanish rivals Barcelona in the chase for Beckham.

“With a team like this and the amount of money invested, of course there will be a lot of discussion if we are not at least in the final of the Champions League,” shrugged Zidane.

“But we are always under pressure to win titles at Real Madrid. Of course there is more pressure but the players will do everything in their power to achieve those goals.”

Zidane said in China last week that he would retire when his Real Madrid contract expires in 2005.

However, the 31-year-old hinted at a possible U-turn and insisted that he may decide to continue if his passion for the game was undiminished.

“I will be 33 in 2005 which is the sort of age you think about stopping. But it was just something I said...nothing certain,” shrugged Zidane, twice voted World Player of the Year.

“If I’m still physically in good shape and can maintain the same level of play I could continue playing. For now, my objectives are simple.

“I have this passion and desire to keep winning titles. As long as I have this flame in me, I will keep on trying to win trophies.”

Zidane insisted that Real would still keep a healthy respect for their opponents despite the wealth of riches at the disposal of new manager Carlos Queiroz.

“It won’t be easy. This team looks superior to most other teams on paper but we will be under pressure to produce results, week in week out,” said Zidane.

“Last season we hit a bad patch of form and suddenly we were out of the Champions League. We could easily have blown the Spanish league too.”

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