Real Madrid
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Real Madrid Club de Fútbol is a Spanish sports club best known for its football team which was ranked as 'The 20th Century's Best Club' by FIFA. The club, which went in place of the Spanish FA, was also one of the founding members of FIFA. They play their home games at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. Real Madrid have been European Champions a record 9 times and have also won a record 29 La Liga titles. The club also operates a reserve football team, Real Madrid Castilla, and a successful basketball team, Real Madrid Baloncesto and are in talks to sponsor a rugby team, CRC Madrid Noroeste. Real Madrid is unusual in that, unlike most football clubs, it has been owned and operated solely by its members (socios) since 1902.

During its history, the club has acquired a number of nicknames. Among the earliest were los merengues, after the white dessert meringue and los blancos. Both simply referred to the club's legendary all-white strip and are the most common to this day. In the 1970s, the nickname los vikingos became popular, possibly due to the signings of several northern European players. More recently, the media dubbed the club los galácticos, referring to club decision to sign star players.


Football was introduced to Madrid by the professors and students of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. They included several Oxbridge graduates. In 1895 they founded the club Football Sky, playing on Sunday mornings at Moncloa. In 1900 this club split into two different clubs New Foot-Ball de Madrid and Club Español de Madrid. The president of the latter club was Julián Palacios. In 1902 the latter club split again, resulting in the formation of Sociedad Madrid FC on March 6 1902. The first president was Juan Padrós Rubió; the first secretary was Manuel Mendía; and the first treasurer was José de Gorostizaga. Juan Padrós Rubió would be later succeeded by his brother, Carlos Padrós from Spain.

Santiago Bernabéu

Before becoming President in 1945, Santiago Bernabéu Yeste had already carried out the functions of player, first-team captain, club maintenance, first-team manager and director, in an association with the club that lasted nearly 70 years. He was responsible for rebuilding the club after the Spanish Civil War, and under his presidency, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and the Ciudad Deportiva. Real Madrid has a newly named stadium which is the 'Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium'.

He also reorganized the club at all levels, in what would become the normal operating hierarchy of professional clubs in the future, giving every section and level of the club independent technical teams and recruiting staff such as Raimundo Saporta.

Finally, beginning in 1953 he embarked upon a strategy of signing world-class players from abroad, the most prominent of them being the highly controversial signing of Alfredo Di Stéfano, first signed by FC Barcelona but then officially moved (with the approval of the Franco-placed President of FC Barcelona) to Real Madrid, and built the world's first truly multinational side. During Bernabéu's presidency many of Real Madrid's most legendary names played for the club, including the aforementioned Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, Francisco Gento, Héctor Rial, Raymond Kopa, José Santamaría, Miguel Muñoz, Amancio, Santillana, Juanito, José Antonio Camacho and others.

In 1955, acting upon the idea proposed by the L'Equipe journalist Gabriel Hanot and building upon the Copa Latina (a tournament involving clubs from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy), Bernabéu met in the Ambassador Hotel in Paris with Bedrignan and Gustav Sebes and created what today is known as the UEFA Champions League. Under the administration of UEFA, it is the world's premier club tournament.

It was under Bernabéu's guidance, and with the support of the Franco regime, which saw the Club as its sporting embodiment, that Real Madrid became established as a major force in both Spanish and European football. Before passing away in 1978, Bernabéu had been the club's president for 35 years, during which he won 1 Intercontinental Cup, 9 European Cups, 16 La Liga titles, and 6 Spanish Cups.

Domestic success

The mid-1950s saw Real Madrid put together a team that included, among others Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, Francisco Gento, Héctor Rial, Raymond Kopa, and José Santamaria. These players formed the nucleus of the Real Madrid team that dominated the second half of the 1950s. They won La Liga for first time in over 20 years as Real Madrid in 1954 and retained it in 1955. They were winners again in 1957 and 1958, with only Athletic Bilbao interrupting their sequence. CF Barcelona won La Liga in 1959 and 1960 but between 1961 and 1980 Real Madrid dominated La Liga with the club winning the competition 14 times. This included a five-in-a-row sequence (1961-1965) and two three-in-a-row sequences (1967-69 and 1978-1980). It was during this era that legendary players such as Jose Antonio Camacho, Uli Stielike and Juan Gomez came into the side

In the early 1980s Real Madrid lost its grip on La Liga but by 1986 they had resumed normal service with another five-in-a-row sequence (1986-90). This team included Hugo Sánchez and the famous 'Quinta del Buitre' - Emilio Butragueño, Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vazquéz, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza.

Real Madrid has also won the Copa del Rey on 17 occasions, and are 7-time winners of the Supercopa de España.

International success

In addition to their domestic success, Real Madrid's reputation as a major club was established by their outstanding record in the European Cup. To date have they have been crowned champions of Europe a record nine times. Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás and other famous players helped the club win the European Cup five times in a row between 1956 and 1960, which included the memorable 7-3 Hampden Park final against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960. The club won for a sixth time in 1966, defeating Partizan Belgrade 2-1 in the final with a team composed entirely of nationally-born players, a first in the competition. They were also runners-up in 1962, 1964 and 1981. Winning the competition five consecutive times saw Real permanently awarded the original cup and earning the right to wear the UEFA badge of honour. They have also won the UEFA Cup twice and were twice runners-up in the European Cup Winners Cup.

In 1996 President Lorenzo Sanz appointed Fabio Capello as coach. Although his tenure lasted only one season, in which Real Madrid were proclaimed league champions, the team he built, which included Raúl, Predrag Mijatović, Fernando Redondo, Fernando Hierro, Davor Šuker, Clarence Seedorf, and Roberto Carlos, ended Real Madrid's 32-year wait for their seventh European Cup in 1998 under manager Jupp Heynckes, defeating Juventus 1-0 in the final. Real Madrid would go on to win again in 2000 and 2002 under manager Vicente Del Bosque, with sides including players such as Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman, Luís Figo and Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid are also three-time winners of the Intercontinental Cup, defeating Peñarol, Vasco da Gama, and Olimpia Asunción in 1960, 1998, and 2002 respectively.

Quinta del Buitre years

This was the name given to the generation of club grown Real Madrid players that dominated Spanish football in the 1980s. The name ("Vulture's Cohort") was derived from the nickname given to its most charismatic member Emilio Butragueño. The other four members were Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza.

Sanchís and Martín Vázquez were the first to play for the first team of Real Madrid, making their debut at Murcia on December 4, 1983. Coach Alfredo Di Stéfano brought the youngsters in from the start. Both played surprisingly well and Sanchís even scored the winning goal. A few months later, February 5, 1984, saw the debut of Emilio Butraguño in an away game at Cádiz. El Buitre was an instant sensation and scored twice. Pardeza was added to the first team that same season and Míchel followed at the start of the next.

With La Quinta del Buitre (reduced to four members when Pardeza left the club for Zaragoza in 1986) Real Madrid had one of the best teams in Spain and Europe during the second half of the 1980s, winning amongst others two UEFA Cups and 5 Spanish championships in a row. Their record was only blemished by their failure to win the European Cup.

Martín Vázquez went to play for Torino in 1990. He made a return to Real Madrid in 1992, leaving the club again for good in 1995 (to Deportivo La Coruña). Butragueño left the club in 1995 and Michél in 1996. Both went to play for Atlético Celaya in Mexico.

Sanchís was the only member of La Quinta to never play for a club other than Real Madrid. By winning the Champions League twice (in 1998 and 2000), he also managed to accomplish what La Quinta had failed to achieve in its glory days. He retired in 2001 as last active member of the famous cohort.

Florentino Pérez years

In July 2000 Florentino Pérez was elected club president with the promise to sign the world's best players including then-FC Barcelona star Luís Figo, end the club's debt, and modernize the club's facilities. After reaching an agreement to re-zone and sell the Ciudad Deportiva, Pérez went on to sign Zinedine Zidane (2001), Ronaldo (2002) and David Beckham (2003). The media began referring to the team as Los Galácticos. Initially the strategy, eventually dubbed Zidanes y Pavones and meant to combine world stars and youth team graduates, was successful and Real Madrid won La Liga in 2001 and 2003 and the UEFA Champions League in 2002, their centenary year. They also won the Intercontinental Cup, the European Super Cup and the Supercopa de España in both 2001 and 2003.

Off the field the Zidanes y Pavones policy resulted in increased financial success based on the exploitation of the club's high marketing potential around the world, especially in Asia; however, the team's on-field performance declined following several unsuccessful appointments as coach in an effort to replace Vicente Del Bosque, combined with a questionable transfer policy. Despite signing further high-profile players such as Walter Samuel, Sergio Ramos, Michael Owen, Robinho, and Júlio Baptista, Real Madrid have failed to win a major trophy since 2003.

On February 27 2006, Florentino Pérez resigned, and was temporarily replaced by Fernando Martín.

Ramón Calderón period

On July 2 2006 Ramón Calderón who was elected as club president and he subsequently appointed Fabio Capello as the new coach and Predrag Mijatovic as the new sporting director. As new manager of Real Madrid, Capello signed WC winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson, both from embattled Juventus, for a total sum of €23m; Ruud van Nistelrooy from Manchester United for €15m; Mahamadou Diarra from Lyon for €26m and on a last minute trade loan - José Antonio Reyes. They failed, however, to sign AC Milan star Kaká, Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas and Chelsea star Arjen Robben as was promised by the new president. During the January transfer window, he has managed to sign Fluminense full back Marcelo, River Plate forward Gonzalo Higuain and Boca Juniors midfielder Fernando Gago.

Supporters & rivals

During most home matches the majority of the seats in the stadium are occupied by season ticket holders, of which there are approximately 65,000. In order to become a season ticket holder one must first be a socio, or club member. Not all members are able to get a season ticket. In addition to members, the club has over 1,800 peñas (official, club-affiliated supporters' groups) in Spain and around the world.