This list was originally going to be a combination of the best El Clasico players ever. That’s right, we were going to attempt to pick 10 players who have played for either Real Madrid or Barcelona and place them sequentially and claim one of them was the best. Looking back, that would have been impossible so we’re doing a top 10 for each team (Barcelona will be posted tomorrow). I had trouble choosing 10 Real players. I definitely had to leave some deserving players off. To be fair, I left current players (with one exception) off the list because it is impossible to tell where they will place on this list yet. Players like Isco, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, or even Christiano Ronaldo failed to make the list because they could end up deserving a much higher or lower place depending on their careers. I’m certain CR7 will be on this list eventually, he probably could even place now, but he’ll have to wait his turn. Below are some of the greatest and most influential players ever to grace the pitch. These players helped create one of the institutions of world soccer. Let’s start with:
10. Roberto Carlos
The player that helped to create the modern full back. The fact that the video provided is a best goals video says a lot considering his was a defender.
9. Francisco Gento
Francisco Gento won the European Cup, what is now the Champions League, a record six times. I’ll repeat that. Francisco Gento won the European Cup, what is now the Champions League, a record six times. That’s more than most teams have won it. The winger was instrumental in a team that dominated Europe for two decades and is part of the reason why standards are so high at Real.
8. Fernando Hierro
Another player with plenty of trophies in their cabinet, Hierro was the prototype for the ball playing, attacking central defender. In his time at Real Madrid, Hierro won five league titles and three Champions League medals.
7. Hugo Sanchez
Another player from the 80’s-90’s Real Madrid team, Sanchez was such a regular scorer that his nickname amongst fans was simply Hugol and helped lead Real to five consecutive league titles.
6. Iker Casillas
The only current player on this list, Iker Casillas makes this list because he is already a legend at the Bernabeu. “San” Iker was the face of Real for many years before CR7 and deservedly so. He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest keepers to play the game.
The former World Cup goal record holder and the one true Ronaldo. Ronaldo had this ability to make scoring any goal so easy. With his head, with his feet. If he had been able to stay fit he would undoubtedly be closer to the top of this list, if not the top of it.
If there is one player who symbolizes everything Real Madrid stands for, it is Raul. Majestic, ruthless, Raul was my idol growing up. The “eternal captain” of Real Madrid is also the all-time leading goalscorer, which is quite the feat considering who is on this list. The perfect striker.
3. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is one of those players you only ever see once in a generation. He genuinely could play anywhere in the midfield, with sublime passing, expert finishing, and could put in a tackle the likes of which we rarely see anymore. The fact that some of the best players in the world currently emulate their games off of his and that he is mentioned in the same breath as Cruyff, Maradona, and Pele says it all, really.
2. Ferenc Puskas
The only way I can show you how talented Ferenc Puskas was is to show his goalscoring numbers while at Bernabeu. He scored 242 goals in 262 games. That’s a goal every .92 games. Here’s the kicker. Puskas signed for Real at 31, when most players start their decline. This isn’t mentioning his five league wins and 3 European medals that he won while at the club.
1. Alfredo Di Stefano
So here we are at the top of the list. Was it ever going to be anybody else, really? Widely considered the clubs best player ever and second leading goalscorer, Di Stefano played for Real Madrid for a trophy-laden 11 years. He was the star of the most successful European side in history, winning the European Cup five consecutive times. Funnily enough, he was close to signing for rivals Barcelona but was convinced to sign for Real Madrid by former player and then club president Santiago Bernabeu. Yep, the legendary stadium is named after one of the most important figures in the clubs history. Neat little tidbit for you.
So what do you think? Should somebody be higher? Who did I leave off that deserved to be on?