When Benitez was sacked in January 2016, Barcelona daily Mundo Deportivo dismissed Zidane as merely a "sticking plaster", who would be replaced quickly by a permanent coach.
Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid on Thursday afternoon and aside from the indelible mark he left on their trophy cabinet, he also showed them what sort of boss is needed to succeed at such a hard, high profile club. This is a unusual moment but a very important moment.
"The team needs to continue winning and needs a change", said the outgoing manager.
"I have a close link with this set of fans and I thank them for all that support and love".
"I just didn't see clearly that we would win it again". "This is the right moment. I wish you the very best".
"I had the respect of all the players, which has been fundamental in achieving such success". This is a demanding club, not easy for them, with this great history. 'For a lot it will not make any sense but for me it's the way to go after working here for three years.
"I am doing this for the good of this team, for this club". He also revealed recently he was approached several times by the Spanish side during his time in London. I do not forget that.
"You can't help but admire what he has done", France manager Didier Deschamps, who won the World Cup as a player alongside Zidane in 1998, told France's TF1 after the Kiev triumph. And this is the right moment to leave.
"There are many reasons for this".
At least as a coach, Zinedine Zidane is going out on top.
The Frenchman informed president Florentino Perez of his decision to quit earlier this morning. But when he took over the role of the manager, he still had a thing or two to prove. "I have no doubt, you will return but if you need a break, you also deserve it", he said. "Although if you need a rest, we understand that".
"I've taken the decision to not continue next year as Real Madrid coach", Zidane said. "I would love for him to be by my side forever".
Madrid will now try to buy Mauricio Pochettino out of his new Tottenham deal.
Zidane won nine titles as Madrid coach, including the three Champions League titles, one Spanish league title, one Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups.