One of the most popular teams in the world in any sport, Real Madrid was founded in 1902 and was FIFA’s Club of the 20th Century in 2000. It was the highest earning football club of the 2014-15 season with €577 million in annual revenues. During that season, it was estimated to be worth €577 million ( $ 3.64B ).
Real Madrid is a winner of a record 32 La Liga titles and a record 11 European Cups. It also shares the record with 3 Intercontinental Cups. It is one of three founding teams of the Primera Division that have never been relegated from the top division.
The success of Real Madrid on and off the football field can be attributed to the long line of great players who have donned its white kit over the years.
Here are the top Real Madrid Players of all-time:
10. Hugo Sanchez
The transfer of Hugo Sanchez from Atletico Madrid to Real Madrid changed the landscape of Spanish football and turned Real Madrid into a powerhouse team in the 1980’s.
Sanchez was a prolific goal scorer all throughout his career. He was one of the best forwards in the game and a key figure in the team which was led by the ‘La Quinta del Buitre’ or the ‘Vulture Squadron’. In his first season with Real Madrid, he won the La Liga and led the tournament with 22 goals. Real Madrid also won the UEFA and it was just the beginning.
When all was said and done, Sanchez was part of 5 La Liga titles, 1 UEFA Cup, 3 Super Copas and 1 Copa Del Rey. Individually, he won four Pichichi trophies as Spanish football’s top scorer.
Known as the Phenom, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima was a magician with the ball. He was a physically gifted athlete who scored goals with ease.
Ronaldo starred for the Brazilian National team where he is the 2nd all-time leading goal scorer behind the legendary Pele. He was a star before he came to Real Madrid but injuries stole many of his prime years. After winning his second World Cup with Brazil in 2002, he signed with the Whites. In his first season, the Los Blancos won the La Liga and the Intercontinental Cup.
Ronaldo was a three-time FIFA Player of the Year winner and a two-time recipient of the Ballon d’Or. In four and a half seasons with Real Madrid, he scored over a hundred goals and winning his second Pichichi in 2003.
8. Roberto Carlos
His infectious smile was as important as his left foot which was key in winning over a dozen titles at Real Madrid. Roberto Carlos was a physical specimen. He ran 100 meters in 10.9 seconds and his kicks reached speeds of 140 km/h
He started football young and was a star in all level in his native Brazil. After winning two titles in Brazil, he moved to Inter Milan and then arrived in Real Madrid a year later. With the Los Blancos, Roberto Carlos won 4 La Liga crowns, 3 Spanish Super Cups, 3 European Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups and 1 European Super Cup.
After 11 seasons with Real Madrid, he left in 2007. But not after winning his fourth and final La Liga with them. Roberto Carlos owns the Real Madrid record for most games played by a foreigner.
7. Ferenc Puskas
Nicknamed Pancho, Ferenc Puskas was a prolific goal scorer who broke goal scoring record during his time. Gifted with the best left foot in the history Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Pancho wowed the crowds with his charm and friendliness.
Puskas was part of the legendary Hungarian team which won in the 1952 Olympics. He arrived in Real Madrid at age 31 and looked old and overweight. He quickly won over the hearts of the faithful with his scoring prowess.
He helped the Whites win 5 La Liga titles, 3 European Cups, 1 intercontinental Cup and 1 Spanish Cup. He was La Liga’s leading goal scorer four times and after his death in 2006, FIFA paid tribute by naming the award for the year’s best goal after him.
6. Zinedine Zidane
The french midfielder who won everything that could be won both in the pros and with his country.
Algerian in origin but raised in Marseille, Zidane made his debut in the French first division at the age of 17. But it was only in 1992 when he played for Girondins Bordeaux when he started to gain international recognition. Zidane won the Ballon d’Or with Juventus in 1998 and then won the World Cup for France. In 2001, he joined Real Madrid with the desire of winning his first ever European Cup before hanging up his jersey. Zidane was prophetic. A year later, the only trophy missing in his trophy case was his.
Zidane scored the decisive goal against Bayer Leverkusen, striking with a left foot volley off a bullet pass from Roberto Carlos.
5. Iker Casillas
Photo: DailyMail UK
We’ve talked a lot about the scorers. But the goals would be meaningless if not for this man’s saves and incredible stops.
Arguably the best goalkeeper in Real Madrid history, Iker Casillas arrived in the club at the age of 9 and spent 25 years of his life with the Whites. He debuted for the first team in 1999 and went on to play in a total of 725 official games and win 19 titles.
Casillas was named best goalkeeper in the world by the IFFHS five times and part of the FIFA FIFPro XI five times. Individual recognitions include the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, Community of Madrid Gold Medal and the Royal Order of Sports Merit.
Photo: Daily Mail UK
The eternal captain who symbolized Real Madrid’s values.
Raul always left his heart on the football field regardless of the opponent. He put 100% effort in every game and his quest for victory was insatiable. If you’re looking for a role model in this sport, he is the perfect choice.
Raul played 16 years with Real Madrid and is currently the club’s 2nd all-time leading scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo. He is also the 5th leading goal scorer in La Liga history and the highest Spanish scorer in the European leagues. His honors include 6 La Liga titles, 4 Spanish Super cups, 3 European Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups and 1 European Super Cup.
3. Francisco Gento
The Storm of the Cantabrian played in one of the great Real Madrid teams of all-time. Along with Di Stefano, Puskas, Rial and Kopa, Francisco Gento’s career was all about winning trophies. And more trophies.
Probably the best left winger in the history of the game, Gento was part of a total of 24 titles. He is the only footballer to win six European Cups, including five in a row. He played a total of 761 matches in 18 seasons with the Whites. He played 44 matches for Spain and appeared in two World Cups.
In October 2016, he was given the distinction of being the honorary president of the Real Madrid Football Club for his valuable dedication to the club.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Regarded as the 2nd best player in football today ( next to Messi ) and one of the greatest of all-time, Cristiano Ronaldo sits at #2 but we won’t be surprised if he finishes his career as the greatest player in the history of Real Madrid.
A powerful figure on and off the football field, Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s most famous athlete of 2016, according to ESPN. He also topped the Forbes list for highest earning athletes in 2016 and has been consistently in the Top 10 year in and year out.
He’s won four Ballon d’Or award, the most for a European player. He was the FIFA Player of the Year in 2008 and Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2016. Cristiano Ronaldo is also a four-time winner of the World Soccer Player of The Year award and has been a member of the FIFA FIFPro World XI from 2007-2016.
1. Alfredo Di Stefano
Photo: Real Madrid via Getty Images
Real Madrid reached the peak of its legacy during his era. The best footballer in Real Madrid history, he could do it all: attack, defend, you name it.
Real Madrid won 18 titles in 11 seasons with Di Stefano. He scored a total of 308 official goals and became the symbol of the club. He won an unprecedented five consecutive European titles, and scored a goal in each European Cup Finals match.
He won the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959 and is the only player to receive the Super Ballon d’Or trophy. He won the Pichichi Trophy from 1956-1959 ( he also won it in 1954 ). He was named to the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998 and the World Soccer Greatest XI in 2013.
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