Manchester United summer transfer target Raphael Varane says a phone call from Zinedine Zidane four years ago helped him choose Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid over a move to Sir Alex Ferguson's Old Trafford. In the latest interview with the France international defender, Varane also thanked the current Chelsea boss for giving him a "kick up the backside" in time to help him continue his development on the road to becoming one of the most coveted centre-backs in Europe.
Varane moved to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2011 as a prospect for the future but quickly become into one of Mourinho's favourites during his three seasons in La Liga. It was Mourinho who then gave him his debut and a role in the line-up ahead of Sergio Ramos and Pepe for a number of high-profile games.
"Zidane called me and I asked him to call me back because I was studying for my baccalaureate. It's my relaxed nature that made me react like that. You have to be care-free to deal with so many things at such a young age," Varane told Le Journal du Dimanche.
"But to be honest, after that call, my mind was elsewhere; it was hard to focus on revising! It was the craziest period of my life: I was getting ready for the baccalaureate, the phone was ringing off the hook, I visited the Real facilities, I met Alex Ferguson... Just imagine, I was doing exams and signing autographs for other students. It was surreal. I'm really proud of having passed."
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez recently revealed that United made a fresh approach to secure his services this summer while the Blues have also being linked with the player amid ongoing praise from Mourinho for the player.
Varane says his admiration for the Portuguese boss is mutual and thanked him for making him a better player.
"During my second year at Madrid, Jose Mourinho gave me a kick up the backside. I wasn't doing well, I wasn't managing to do what he wanted me to out on the pitch. So he chided me, saying, 'Why don't you run in training?' My first reaction was to mutter, 'Oh come on...' But I knew he was right, I had more to give", Varane said.
"Mourinho doesn't need to give long speeches. He's direct and to the point. What he said to me was for my own good. Without regular pressure like that, I tend to rest on my laurels. I used to be very hyperactive, in contrast to how calm I appear now. I used to play around too much with my brothers and sisters and they'd have to calm me down."