TOP 5 REAL MADRID PLAYERS
After their recent successes in European competitions - winning the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup trophies respectively - Real Madrid and Manchester United are set for a titanic clash in the UEFA Super Cup final, in Skopje this Tuesday.
Will Real Madrid, a club forever associated with Corinthian FC due to the iconic white strip of the English amateurs – will they be able to match the Corinthian's record ever defeat of Manchester United of 11-3?
Of course, Mourinho, Pogba, Lukaku and Rashford will be hoping they won't… In any case, we thought we’d look back on some of the most glorious names to have ever graced the Los Blancos shirt.
Here are our top 5 - who are yours?
1. Zinedine Zidane
The French midfielder has arguably led Los Blancos to their most dominating Champions League Final ever, winning with a comfortable 4-1 score line in May 2017. But his real legacy began when he joined the Spanish giants in 2001 from Juventus for a world record fee of €77.5 million. With this transfer fee, the pressure was truly on ‘Zizou’ to show the world his talent. It was this pressure, seemingly, that made him excel and the French playmaker was fundamental in Real Madrid’s domination over the following 4 seasons. While being dubbed a “Galactico” alongside fellow stars, Zidane fundamentally created a new midfielder role, one that modern day teams try and replicate with the same creative and skilful result. One thing is for sure though, there is only one Zizou.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
A simple online search of his name, and you are inundated with a few hundred pictures of the Portuguese winger with all the awards, trophies and accolades that he has achieved over his illustrious career. The Funchal-born attacker, spent the start of his career at his boyhood club, Sporting Libson, followed by a move to Manchester United in 2003. Much like Zidane, CR7 moved to the La Liga side for a world record transfer fee of €94 million, a fee only now surpassed by Madrid teammate Gareth Bale, former Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba and now La Liga counterpart Neymar Jr. With an incredible 285 goals in just 265 games for Madrid, alongside 14 domestic cup wins, the attacker is rightly considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, dominating internationally with Portugal and across three major European leagues. Ronaldo currently holds the record for the most goals scored in Champions League history, as well as the most hat tricks in the same competition.
3. Alfredo Di Stefano
Ask an elderly Madridista in the stands of the Bernebeu, “who’s the greatest?” and Alfredo Di Stefano will almost certainly be their answer. For a generation, he is unquestionably the greatest player to ever don the iconic white shirt for the Spanish giants. The attacking playmaker ended his illustrious career with 8 La Liga titles, 5 European titles and 2 Ballon D’or awards, while possessing a 49 goal tally in just 58 matches in European competition. Alongside Ferenc Puskas, the duo were integral to the flurry of European success the club enjoyed in the 20th century, and brought Madrid to their dominating position to which they stand today. In 2006, Madrid named a new stand in his honour, while simultaneously creating an inaugural match between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims, recreating the European Cup final won by Real Madrid in 1956.
4. Iker Casillas
The footballing story of Madrid born Iker Casillas began when he was just 16 years old. In November 1997, Casillas was called up to the first team to play Rosenberg in the UEFA Champions League, due to a set of injuries to both Bodo Illgner and Santi Canizares. Within 3 years, Casillas would start and win the 2000 Champions League final 3-0 against Valencia, cementing his place in the Real Madrid first team for the following 14 years, appearing 510 times for Los Blancos. With multiple appearances on the UEFA Team of the Year, as well as multiple World Cup and European competition successes, the Madrista born native is a fan favourite by both Madrid and rival fans across the world, promoting fair play and loyalty.
5. Raul Gonzalez
Although not possessing the same skill set as Ronaldo or Zidane, the Madrid born legend was admired for his power, speed and energy which saw him become one of the greatest Spanish players of all time. Ironically starting his career with rivals Atletico Madrid, the striker quickly caught the eye of Jorge Valdano, resulting in quick promotions to the second and first team within the same season. His introduction into the first team saw a ‘passing of the torch’ moment, replacing the legendary Emilio Butraguneo. In his 741 game span, while scoring 323 goals, Raul decided that 6 La Liga and 3 Champions League trophies were just simply not enough, and began setting his sights on breaking records. At one point in his career, the striker held the record for the most goals and appearances in the UEFA Champions League competition, which has now only been surpassed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The striker was known to be a very strong and opposing player, but not receive a single red card in his 741 match career - a true Corinthian.
The match is sure to be a classic, with both Manchester United and Real Madrid looking to start their own domestic seasons with a win. After a comfortable victory against Italian giants Juventus, will the Corinthian white strip inspired Los Blancos once again show their dominance against another European heavyweight?