Real Madrid – The team of the 21st century?
Spain´s capital Madrid is home to three teams, Rayo Vallecano, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid. For some time, Atletico Madrid was a great challenge to Real Madrid, while Rayo Vallecano has always been dangling in between the first and second league. Atletico was founded only a month after Real Madrid, and have been rivals ever since. Atletico has always been known to be more for the humble Madrileños, while Real Madrid was more for the rich and posh public. Rayo Vallecano is from Madrid´s largest neighborhood called Vallecas, known for the working class. They used to be a separate town in the suburbs, but came part of the city in 1950, and so Madrid acquired a third football team.
Real Madrid is one of the best-known teams in the world, with numbers varying greatly from 250 million to 500 million supporters, depending on where you get the information from. Wherever you go, Africa, Asia, or Latin America, you will see people wearing the white shirt of Real Madrid with the name and number of their favorite player on the back. This is not for nothing, voted by the FIFA Club of the 20th century, nationally it has won the most matches, and won most cups, and internationally they hold the record of cups won and have been number one in the European UEFA and, in the FIFA world ranking for many consecutive years.
So, what is the story behind this miraculous team, and how did they come to its glory?
Real Madrid – The birth of a dream team
Even though the Madrid Foot ball Club was officially founded in 1902, the club was originally set up by some exchange students from Cambridge and Oxford who were studying in 1897 at University Institución Libre de Enseñanza, and introduced the game in the city. The team, then called Sociedad Sky Foot ball, commonly known as La Sociedad (the Society), had an internal row, with half of the team splitting up, creating the Nueva Sociedad de Foot ball (New Society of Football). This team would later be officially named as the Madrid Foot ball Club in 1902. 18 Years later in 1920, the king of Spain, Alfonso XIII, gave the team the title of Royal, “Real” in Spanish, this because of their great international performance. The name was changed to Real Madrid and a crown was placed on top of their coat of arms, and so the team was born.
Real Madrid – Their home
Their home used to be the stadium of Estadio de Chamartín, the stadium however was heavily damaged in the Spanish Civil war in the 1930s, so the decision was made to build a new stadium. Inaugurated in 1947, the stadium was named Estadio Nuevo de Chamartín, translated as The New Stadium of Chamartín, named after the neighborhood Chamartin, where both stadiums were located. A few years later, an extension was made and it became the second biggest stadium in Europe, holding up to 125.000 Real Madrid fans. Currently, after many modifications, the structure holds 82.000 people.
The stadium changed its name to Santiago Bernabue in 1955 in honor of its then most prestigious member Santiago Bernabeu de Yeste, who was the team’s first top player and later to become the club´s president for 35 years until his death in 1978.
Their heroes, victories … and losses
Even though Mr. Santiago Bernabeu is the most important figure in the club’s history, there are other players with a better reputation on the field. The 21st centuries-long list of most famous players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazilian Ronaldo, Raúl, Figo, Cannavaro, and Zidane were just a few of Real Madrid´s top scorers. . We mustn’t forget one of the world´s greatest goalkeepers Iker Casillas who prevented hundreds of footballs from entering the net. Finally, one of the team´s most classic and prominent players was Argentinean player Alfredo Di Stéfano in the 50s. Alfredo is regarded as one of the world´s best football players in history, and especially in the history of Real Madrid together with Cristiano Ronaldo. The arrival came as a controversial switch since he was very close to signing with Barcelona. Most of these players sure didn´t come to the club very cheap. In 2000 Figo is bought for € 62 million, a year later Zidane came to form part of the team for € 77,5 million. In 2009 Cristiano Ronaldo is acquired for € 94 million, breaking the all-time record for the highest paid price for a player. Finally, Gareth Bale is bought for € 100,8 million in 2013, breaking the previous worldwide record.
There are two more important figures in the team´s history, who made Real Madrid to the team of the 20th century. One was Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid who made sure that Real Madrid was for ten consecutive years the team with the highest income worldwide, and the highest valued team in the world, worth € 2,8 billion ($ 3,4 billion).
The other responsible is Vicente del Bosque, the former coach for four years, who made sure Real Madrid won 63% of all its matches and winning seven cups, four of which on an international level. They lost only five games out of 58.
The investment has resulted in making the team most successful worldwide, winning a total of 56 national cups, 34 of those being in the primer league. On an international level, they have won 29 titles, making it a total of 85 cups, at the time of writing.
Real Madrid´s history is not all glory and fairy tales. There have been many impressive defeats and losses for many years.
Years ending in the number 8 are bad luck for the team, since 1998, 2008 and 2018, were the worst years in the last three decades where they would lose around 30% of their matches.
The biggest ever defeat in the Primer League was against the club of Espanyol, losing with 8-1. This goes back nearly a century ago in 1929. The worst defeat against their rival FC Barcelona was 2-6 at their own home in 2009.
Internationally they had even a bigger defeat, which was against Bayern Munich losing 9-1 in 1980.
The other teams of Real Madrid
Besides the world´s most famous team, Real Madrid used to have 25 other teams in different sports playing from weightlifting to Greek-Roman wrestling to archery. Only two of them remain, guess which is the other one …
The biggest team after the football club, which has gained worldwide fame, is the basketball team. We can actually say that the basketball team is even better than the football team, compared to other European teams. The team was founded in 1929, and since then has grown to be by far Spain´s best team, and one of the best at a European level, having broken all records on Spanish and European grounds. Of all existing competitions both nationally and European, Real Madrid holds all records. The current count stands on 143 titles won, of which half of them on national soil. They are one of six teams in history that could win a match in the NBA.
Rather strange is that the Real Madrid female division of basketball is quite extended, having started in 1988, the same year the female football league was inaugurated, the female football team of Real Madrid, however, was only introduced in 2019. There have been many female clubs in Madrid, Club Deportivo Canillas was one, who joined Club Deportivo TACON, which was then absorbed in 2019 by Real Madrid.
As you´ve noticed, Madrid has one of the world’s most popular teams, and arguably one of the best teams in Europe. Even though you´re not a big football fan, it is worth paying a visit to the stadium, where the field, the dressing rooms, and other areas can be visited. The best experience is of course to see the team live in action during one of its games. Book them well in advance though, since they tend to sell out quite rapidly.