The remarkable history of football has its own some part at the great Santiago Bernabeu stadium. There seems to be some kind of enchanted path that leads here and entice the world’s greatest footballers eventually to become one of the Real Madrid Legends. Being one of the most successful football clubs in the world and as the richest franchise Real Madrid has never been short of possessing the starring lights of the sport.
Founded in 1902 by some college pals, the institution is a little more than 100 years has grown into a thriving sporting brand. The world has witnessed some amazing talents over the years, combining to make them one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the history of the sport.
There are different thoughts while selecting the greatest Real Madrid players. Some believe, only one of the current team’s players is able to take a place alongside the greatest of the club. Yeas, of course, Its Cristiano Ronaldo, who has already smashed a number of records, and you all know that the most expensive player in the game is still charting out his course among the stars. He will definitely be changed from time to time for reaching the twilight of his career.
Here we are trying to build a short list of top 10 Real Madrid legends or you can say ‘Greatest Real Madrid players’ for your reading pleasure. I believe, now is a good time as any to rank Los Blancos’s greatest players of all time. But we are carefully avoiding the term ‘rank’ as we hesitate to do so for such great and legendary players of time. Better we maintain the serial as to the timeline of their entrance at the club.
Let’s take a look at the best of the Real Madrid players to have donned the famous white shirt.
Also, note that we have not included players who are still playing in the whites.
Santiago Bernabéu de Yeste (1911 – 1928)
Matches played: 79 official matches
The name Santiago Bernabeu can never be replaced to be considered as the greatest to be associated with Real Madrid. Definitely its difficult to understand how much he achieved as a player, surely following his playing days are remembered today with Real Madrid as the superpower of world football. The club owe their status and triumphs to this legendary one man. He will forever be emblazoned across the battlefields of modern and future Real Madrid greats.
Santiago Bernabéu also had a long and much less well known period as a Real Madrid player before transforming as the president of the club. Mainly he played as a midfielder/ forward and showed great quality. His physical strength, his goal scoring ability and his total commitment to the team were what characterized him as one of the Real Madrid legends.
Santiago Bernabéu spent 16 seasons as a Madrid player, although he is most famous as an extremely successful president of the club, he won many honours including nine Regional Championships and one Spanish Cup. In 80 official matches for the Whites, he scored the hugely impressive figure of 70 goals. But most interestingly, at the time of his trial for Madrid, he was almost selected as the goalkeeper.
Alfredo Di Stéfano Laulhé (1953-1964)
Matches played: 396 official matches
For some, the greatest player in Real Madrid is Alfredo Di Stéfano. But surely he is the player most responsible for establishing Los Blancos’s connection with the Champions League. You should always need to consider his tendency to score in big games aside from his obvious goal-scoring ability. He used to score at least one or more goals in every single European Cup Final. Probably his versatile nature is the most unnoticed feature in history. He was capable of playing in attack, midfield, and defence and could adjust to whatever his team needed him to be and was the man that made his side tick.
Di Stéfano ended his illustrious career with 2 Ballon d’ors, 5 European Cups, and 8 La Liga titles. Many believe, there will never again be a player like this man and he deserves to be known as one of the Real Madrid Legends of all time. He blessed the club with such unrepeatable feat of winning five consecutive European Cups which amazed the international football world.
Again he is the only player in the world to own a Super Ballon d’Or. In 1989 he received the trophy, which is sure to be found in the Real Madrid Museum.
The only word in Di Stéfano’s dictionary was ‘win’. His total career at Real Madrid was full of success. Eighteen trophies in eleven seasons and 308 official goals made him a symbol of the club and the idol of the Madridista worldwide. Real Madrid absolutely dominated Spanish and European football at the time. Alfredo Di Stefano certainly falls into that category. You can’t imagine the makeup of Real Madrid without some mention of the Argentine, there is enough written in the history books of the game that tells you why Alfredo Di Stefano is considered one of the best.
Francisco Gento López (1953-1971)
Position: Left winger
Matches played: 601 official matches
If you have any question, why Gento is on this list of top 10 Greatest Real Madrid players of all time, we can offer you only two words and that is “6 European Cups”. But if you want to know more about his brilliance at the game, it will definitely take a whole book to describe.
Francisco Gento is arguably the best left-wingers of all time. Quite surprisingly, he had the pace to rival the modern-day Ronaldos and Bales. His dribbling ability was quite to put Messi to shame, but most of all, the crossing accuracy that would make David Beckham’s jaw drop. He used to play alongside the likes of Di Stéfano, Raymond Kopa, and Ferenc Puskas to make Real Madrid the greatest team in the 20th-century football history.
Gento probably got trophies more than any other legends in this list. He started playing for several teams in his native Cantabria. And his brilliant performances there soon led to his transfer to Real Madrid in 1953, surely to be acknowledged as another most important signings in the history of the Whites. For many years he was also the most capped Spanish player.
Ferenc Puskas Biro (1958-1967)
Games played: 262
Goals scored: 242
This time the story is different while signing. As an old (already 31 years) and overweight man from Honved Budapest, Real Madrid fans did not expect great things from Ferenc Puskas Biro. But eventually they were all proven wrong. Not only did he amass one of the greatest goal to game ratios in footballing history, but he also led Madrid to 5 La Ligas and 3 European Cups.
Puskas had an extraordinary eye for goal and ability on the ball has made him a Real Madrid legend for anyone who knows an ounce of the clubs glorious history. Now a days we often get surprised that he remains strangely an unknown to anyone not a fan of The Whites. From my understanding, he deserves to be talked about in the same breath as Pele and Maradona.
Puskas dazzled Whites’ fans with his gentlemanliness, charm, friendliness and brilliant performances on the field. As a forward he broke all the goal-scoring records, earning himself the nickname of ‘Pancho’ or ‘Cañoncito pum’. Undoubtedly he is one of the greatest strikers in history, probably the best left foot ever to be seen at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. With his signing Madrid completed the legendary group already formed by Alfredo Di Stéfano, Kopa, Rial, Santamaría, Gento and Domínguez. He became the protagonist in the unstoppable Real team of the 1950s and 60s, striking up a fearsome partnership with Di Stefano.
Hugo Sánchez (1985-1992)
Matches played: 282 official matches
Hugo Sánchez flies into this of Real Madrid legend players with an eye-popping goal scoring record of all time. The Mexican possessed an incredibly keen sense of where the back of the net was. He managed to pick up 3of his Pichichi trophies with the Spanish giant club.
Hugo Sánchez was actually better known as a flair player. According to some well-established references, he is probably one of the greatest proponents of the bicycle kick in the history of the very sport. When Hugo Sánchez scored a bicycle kick against Logrones, the then Madrid coach Leo Beenhakker had to say –
“WHEN A PLAYER SCORES A GOAL LIKE THAT, PLAY SHOULD BE SUSPENDED AND A GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE OFFERED TO THE 80,000 FANS THAT WITNESSED IT.”
Again, Hugo Sánchez’s finishing was incomparable and he scored goals throughout his career. The statistics will always show him as one of the best forwards in the history of Real Madrid. Some say the perfect striker for the team led by the ‘Quinta del Buitre’.
Obviously Hugo was an integral part of one of the golden periods in the club’s history and is still fondly remembered by the fans for his acrobatic shots. He was named the best footballer of the 20th century in North and Central America by the IFFHS and earned 75 caps for Mexico. No doubt, just like at Real Madrid, Hugo Sánchez is a legend in his homeland.
Raúl González Blanco (1992 – 2010)
Games played: 741
Goals scored: 323
Here we have one of the most lethal strikers of all time, not only for Real Madrid but also in respect of the total football world. Raúl only achieved greatness in Real Madrid. He went on to win 6 La Liga titles and an incredible 3 Champions Cups, all the while being the captain and top goal scorer. Raúl also possessed an underrated amount of flair and work ethic. May be he didn’t have that much of technical abilities as others on this list, but surely deserves his place in the pantheon of Real Madrid legends for his unbelievable eye for goal.
Day by day, Raul Gonzalez became the Real Madrid symbol. He also became an example for everyone, putting in the maximum effort in every game, irrespective of the opponent. Undoubtedly an excellent role-model for anyone who has ever dreamt of being a football player.
Ever since he was a child, Raul showed a passion for football, and he excelled, a champion in the making. Acclaimed in Spain, he conquered Europe. Gonzalez is the man who was the face of Real Madrid for much of the last decade and an integral figure for the club even when Florentino Perez looked to introduce the galaxy of stars at the start of the 2000s. Raul rightfully sits alongside the other greats of legendary status, but he is undoubtedly the king of kings for Real Madrid in the 21st century.
Roberto Carlos da Silva (1996 – 2007)
Position: Left back
Games played: 527
Goals scored: 68
Roberto Carlos, the Brazilian, so dearly he holds the club to his heart, the left-back was quoted as saying late in his career that he would return to the Bernabeu to play for free. History of football will surely remark him as the most attack-minded defender in the world when in his pomp. But most of all, Carlos was capable of the odd spectacular goal against Tenerife in February 1998. He was the fine defender, able to use his pace to get him out of difficult situations.
Many believes, his left foot was essential in Real Madrid’s conquest of more than ten titles. Carlos will always be remembered for his friendly nature, regularity, prodigious speed and tremendous power.
The integration of Roberto Carlos within the team in 1996 was very successful. He played 11 seasons with the Whites, winning many major trophies, in particular three European Cup titles. And still he holds the Whites all-time record for most number of games by a foreigner at Santiago Bernabeu.
Iker Casillas Fernández (1999-2015)
Games played: 725 official matches
May be you have already seen, Real Madrid’s official website calls him “the best goalkeeper in our history”, and definitely it’s hard to disagree with them. Casillas had the lightning reflexes and a one-on-one ability second to none along with humility, composure, and leadership qualities that have made him Madrid’s best ever captain. Yes it has been a long time for him to stay at Bernabeu. The number of trophies he has lifted is too large to count and needs no re-telling. I think every Madrid fan has a special place in their heart for The Saint.
Casillas arrived at the club aged 9 and wore the Whites shirt for 25 years. Day by day he became one of the benchmarks in the club’s history, winning the respect, affection and admiration of Madrid supporters along with all the football lovers all over the world. In addition to those triumphs he also won 1 World Cup and 2 European Championships with the Spain first team.
Hopefully, Madrid fans will never forget the images of the captain lifting those trophies. He was included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI on 5 occasions and was also named best goalkeeper in the world 5 times by the IFFHS. His impressive sporting career has been recognized with the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, the Royal Order of Sports Merit and the Community of Real Madrid’s Gold Medal.
Taking over the captaincy following the departure of Raul, Casillas has followed on the same path as his predecessor and become an outstanding representative and one of the Real Madrid legends forever. He is to be considered as one of the great players of modern football.
Zinedine Zidane (2001-2006)
Games played: 227
Goals scored: 49
Genius. Magician. Mercurial. These are just some of the words one thinks of when hearing the name Zinedine Zidane. Some even want to say, putting Zidane in the same sentence as those words is a compliment to those adjectives! Yes! Exactly such brilliance is not an exaggeration, and he is easily one of world football’s most technically gifted players of all time. Zidane is undoubtedly an absolute delight to watch. His artistry on the pitch was not just for mere show however, as he scored a brilliant volleyed goal against Bayer Leverkusen to win Real Madrid “La Novena”.
In fact, Zidane is the only player in this list of Real Madrid legends to get back to the club as manager. As currently he is flying high with the Los Blancos for another triumph to come in time. Zinedine Zidane has marked an era in world football with his elegance and technical skills. The French midfielder won everything that could possibly be won, both with his clubs as well as with the French national team.
Zidane guided ‘Les bleus’ to victories in the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. These triumphs confirmed his status as the world’s best player and awoke an interest in Real Madrid. Florentino Perez, completed his signing –
“I WANTED TO WIN THE EUROPEAN CUP AND I WANTED TO WIN IT WITH REAL MADRID”,
-he declared during his official presentation as a Madrid player.
Believe me there occurred no mistake, one year later he won the European Cup title, the only trophy he was missing, scoring the decisive goal against Bayer Leverkusen. On some level, you’ve got to admire a club who can cast such a spell over the footballing greats of time. Zidane’s ability on the pitch was nothing short of art, and definitely not that strange kind of art that highlights everything that was wonderful about the beautiful game.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2009-2018)
Position: Wide Forward
Games played: 229
Goals scored: 311
Cristiano Ronaldo is nothing but a legend to conquer his position among the greatest Real Madrid players of all time.
His sheer desire to win, incredible individual ability, and unparalleled goal scoring record can answer for him. Signed for a then world record 80 million pounds from Manchester United, few could have guessed the monumental impact that he would have. With absolutely no stability in teammates and managers, Ronaldo went on to put up the most ridiculously consistent numbers in Los Blancos’s history-whilst simultaneously winning titles and keeping us competitive with Barcelona.
It is obviously not an overstatement to say that Ronaldo had made Los Blancos relevant again. Some have already taken him as the greatest ever player of Real Madrid. Definitely Cristiano Ronaldo is that kind of player, who is destined to make history. After he arrived at the Bernabéu from Manchester United, his goal scoring figures have just kept on improving to the delight of Madrid fans. Again he further improved the already illustrious lists of honours won by the greatest club of the 20th Century.