Real Madrid Team Of The Decade

Munachimso Nnebe-AgumaduContributor ISeptember 6, 2010

Real Madrid Team Of The Decade

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             With a very prestigious club like Real Madrid and an elegant history, it's an extremely difficult task to choose a particular group of players to call the best especially in a decade when legends were made. This is an eleven-man squad consisting of the best players in each position over the last ten years.

         One would notice that most of the players on this list were part of the previous 'era of the galacticos' but it's no surprise as the past ten years, at least, belonged to them.

         Firstly, I would like to give credit to Vicente del Bosque for managing the best Real Madrid side of the decade, thereby, giving the club recent memories to be proud about.

Goal Keeper: Iker Casillas

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         This goalkeeping machine is a product of Real Madrid's youth system. He started with the junior squad during the 1990-1991 season and was first called to the first team in 1997 at the age of 16 to face Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League. However, it wasn't until the 1998-1999 season that he debuted in the senior side when he substituted Bodo Illgner. In 2000, he became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in the Champions league final when Real Madrid defeated Valencia just four days after his nineteenth birthday.

         Casillas lost his place in the side to backup Cesar Sanchez after a patch of bad form during the 2001-2002 campaign but redeemed himself when Sanchez suffered an injury in the last minutes of the 2002 Champions league final match. He came on and pulled off several brilliant saves to deny a rampant Bayer Leverkusen the crown. Since then, Saint Iker has maintained the number one shirt.

         The Spaniard has won so many honors including four La Liga trophies, three Supercopa  de Espana, two UCL trophies, one UEFA cup and one intercontinental cup.

         At just 29 years old, Iker Casillas has surpassed Paco Bugo's record of 454 matches played ( for a goalkeeper) and is Real Madrid's most capped goalkeeper of all time.

Right back: Michel Salgado

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         Michel Salgado began his professional career with hometown's Celta Vigo, making his first division debut on 22nd January 1995 in a 0-4 loss at Real Madrid. He was later snapped up by Real Madrid for a reported 11 million euros.

         Nicknamed II Due( two in Italian), he was known for his combative tackling and attacking play. Attesting to his aggressive style, Salgado's former teammate, Steve Mcmanaman, once described him as "the hardest person in the world... a genuine psychopath, even in training".

         The Spaniard spent a complete decade in the whites outfit( 1999-2009) where he won one intercontinental cup, two UCL trophies, one UEFA super cup, four La liga titles and three Supercopa de Espana.

Center Back: Fernando Hierro

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         Hierro made his first division debut with Real Vallodolid after which he was bought by Real Madrid after two solid seasons.

         He was an amazing defender who was equally at ease as a central defender or defensive midfielder and had the ability to combine solid defensive play with a nearly unlimited passing range and surprising goalscoring talent. He was one of the world's most sought after players.

         At Real Madrid, Fernando Hierro scored seven goals in 37 contests in his first season, and eventually had his position on the field advanced by then coach, Radomir Antic, continuing his good perfomances with the addition of goals in three seasons combined. He scored an astonishing 44 league goals, 21 alone in 1991-92, a career best.

         During his spell at the Spanish capital, he won three UCL trophies, one UEFA Super cup, two Intercontinental cups, five Spanish league trophies, one spanish cup and four spanish supercups.

Centre Back: Ivan Helguera

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         Helguera started playing for Manchego CF and Albacete Balompie, appearing in 14 Segunda division matches in 1996-97 for the latter. He was later snapped up by A.S Roma but after one disappointing campaign, joined RCD Espanyol where his stellar perfomances led to a Real Madrid deal even before 1998-99 season had finished.

         With Real Madrid from July 2000, Ivan was an instant first choice and netted five and six league goals in his second and fourth seasons respectively. He alternated between defense and midfield and was instrumental in the capital side's two UEFA champions league conquests.

         During the Spaniard's time at Real, he won two UCL trophies, one UEFA super cuo, one Intercontinental cup, three Spanish league titles and one Spanish supercup.

Left back: Roberto Carlos

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         Roberto Carlos played at Real Madrid for 11 seasons, playing a total of 584 matches and scoring 71 goals in all competitions. 370 of them were league matches in which he scored 46 goals from his left back position. He famously set up Zinedine Zidane to score the winner for Real Madrid to win the Champions League in 2002. His consistently high standards and dynamic displays saw him voted into the user's UEFA Team of the year in 2002 and 2003.

         On the second of August, 2005, he received dual Spanish and Brazilian citizenship. This proved important for Real Madrid as it meant that he now counted as a European Union player. In January of 2006, he set a club record for the most league matches played by a non-Spanish born player by making his 330th appearance for Madrid, hereby, breaking the previous mark of 329 held by Alfredo di Stefano.

         During Roberto's time at Real Madrid, he won three UCL trophies, four spanish league titles, three supercopa de Espana, two Intercontinental cups and one UEFA supercup in addition to several individual honors.

Defensive Midfielder: Claude Makele

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         The rock solid defensive midfielder played for Celta Vigo before he was recruited by Real Madrid in 2000.

         At Real Madrid, Makelele substantially added to his medal tally, winning two Spanish la liga championships, the UEFA Champions league, the Spanish super cup, the European super cup, and the Intercontinental Cup. As an ever- present player in Vicente del Bosque's Real Madrid side, Makelele also established himself as one of the best holding midfielders in the world.

         However, despite his value to the team, the French man was one of the club's most under-paid members, earning a fraction of what was paid to players like Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Steve McManaman and Guti.

         In the summer of 2003, feeling that his position at the club was insecure after the shocking exit of Del Bosque, the arrival of David Beckham,  and encouragement from team mates Zidane, Raul, Mcmanaman, and Fernando Morientes, Makelele decided to ask for an improved contract which the Real Management flatly refused. Upset, he handed in a transfer request, whereupon he was signed by Chelsea. 

         Club president, Florentino Perez, infamously poured scorn on the French man's footballing abilities when he proclaimed that Makelele would not be missed. His fellow teammate, Zidane, later replied to Perez saying,"Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?"

         Claude Makelele's sale was probably the biggest mistake the club made in recent memory.

Central Midfielder: Fernando Redondo

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         Redondo narrowly fits the bill as he left the club in the year 2000. The Argentine made his debut in Spanish football in 1990 playing for CD Tenerife under the management of Jorge Solari. Twice during his time at the club, Real Madrid lost the league title to arch-rivals FC Barcelona on the final day of the season, in matches against Tenerife under the management of Jorge Valdano.

         When Valdano was subsequently appointed manager of Real Madrid, Redondo made the move along with him for a fee of five million dollars in 1994.

         The key years of his career were spent at Real Madrid, where he was twice league champion(1995 and 1997) and won two European Champions medals. It was during the second victorious campaign in Europe that Redondo arguably put up his finest performances. New coach Vicente del Bosque utilised the Argentine in a powerful midfield combination with Steve Mcmanaman and Madrid went on to win the Champions league final.

         On the road to victory, Redondo's contribution to a 3-2 quarter final victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford will live long in the memory of Madrid and United fans alike. After a spectacular piece of play that led to his assisting Raul for Real's third goal, Sir Alex Ferguson was quoted as saying "What does this player have in his boots? A magnet?" After winning the final against Valencia Cf, he was named the Champion's League most valuable player.

Attacking Midfielder: Luis Figo

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         In the year 2000, the Portuguese made a hugely controversial move from Barcelona to, very bitter rivals, Real Madrid for a then world record fee of around 37 million Euros. Many Barca fans felt betrayed by his transfer and turned against him, despite his being a fan favorite for over five years.

         When he returned three seasons later in a league match(2002), he got a heated reception from the crowd and many started throwing objects at him as he took corners and throw ins, including, infamously, a pig's head.

         Figo was very sublime in his play and had some very good passes and shots to his boots. His arrival signaled the beginning of Florentino Perez' "Galactico Era". With Madrid, Figo won La Liga in 2001 and 2003 as well as the 2001/02 Champions league.

Attacking Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane

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         In 2001, Zizou joined Real Madrid from Juventus for a then world record fee of about 75 million Euros and signed a four-year contract. He scored a famous match-winning goal; a volley hit with his weaker foot, in Madrid's 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 UEFA champions league final, thereby, completeing his personal quadruple.

    The next season, Zidane helped Real Madrid to win the 2002-03 La liga and was named the FIFA World player of the year for the third time. And in 2004, fans voted him as the best European footballer of the past 50 years in UEFA's 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee poll.

         On 7th May 2006, Zizou, who had announced his plans to retire after the 2006 World Cup, played his last home game and scored in a 3-3 draw against Villareal. The squad wore commemorative jerseys with "Zidane 2001-2006" below the club logo.

Left Striker: Ronaldo Luis Nazario De Lima

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         Ronaldo along with Zidane are the only two players to have the World Player of the Year award three times.

         Having signed for Real Madrid for 39 million euros, his jersey sales broke all records on the first day; such was the obsession and hype surrounding him. Although he was sidelined through until October 2002, the fans kept on chanting his name.

         Ronaldo scored twice in his debut for Real Madrid. He received a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu faithful. That same reception was observed on the night of the final game of the season against Athletic Bilbao, where Ronaldo scored again to seal his first season with 23 league goals and the la liga championship title for 2003, which Ronaldo had previously failed to win with Barcelona.

         With Real Madrid, he also won an intercontinental cup in 2002 and a Spanish super cup in 2003. In the second leg of Real Madrid's champions league quarter-final, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Manchester United to knock them out of the competition. Real was on track to win the treble until Ronaldo was injured towards the end of 2003/2004 season and they lost the copa del rey final, were knocked out of the champions league semi-finals and suffered a total league form breakdown.

Right Striker: Raul Gonzalez Blanco (el Capitain)

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         Raul started his professional career in the 1994-1995 season with Real Madrid C, but was promoted to first team by coach Jorge Valdano after a few games. He became the youngest player ( seventeen years and four months) ever to play for the senior side, scoring in his second senior game against derby rivals Athletico Madrid. In all, Raul registered nine goals in 28 appearances to help Real Madrid win the 1994-1995 league championship in his first season.

         Over the next eight seasons, he won several honours, including another three la liga titles and three champions leagues. For most of his time, Raul struck up to a prolific scoring partnership with Fernando Morientes ( and later Ronaldo ). Raul took over the captaincy of Real Madrid when Fernando Hierro was transferred in 2003, a responsibility he held until leaving the club in 2010. Unusually for such a successful and long-serving player, and despite appearing in two finals, 2002(in which he scored) and 2004, Raul never won the copa del rey (Spanish cup).

       He became the first player to score fifty champions league goals when he netted in a 2-1 group stage win over olympiacos in 2005 and continues to be the all-time leader in both champions league goals and appearance.

       He was also the first player to score in two champions league finals, netting in both 2000 and 2002 against Valencia and Bayern leverkusen respectively.

        Raul holds the distinction of having never received a red card throughout his 15 years at the professional level. He scored 322 career goals for real, breaking the long-standing club record of Alfredo Di Stefano.

       Raul and fellow long-serving teammate Iker casillas were both awarded a 'contact for life' in 2008- the terms of which stipulate that it will be renewed annually  for as long as they play 30 games per season. On 23 September 2009, Raul equaled former veteran and legend Manolo Sanchis' league appearance record for Real Madrid,and is now the second in La Liga behind Andoni Zubi Zarreta who played 622 games.

       The club confirmed on 27th July 2010, that Raul would be leaving the club, a day after veteran Guti confirmed he too would be leaving the club after 25 years.