Real Madrid: Ranking the Top 10 Captains in Club History

Nick LCorrespondent IApril 20, 2011

Real Madrid: Ranking the Top 10 Captains in Club History

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    VALENCIA, BARCELONA - APRIL 20:  Iker Casillas of Real Madrid looks on after the Copa del Rey final match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 20, 2011 in Valencia, Spain. Real Madrid won 1-0.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso
    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    It is an honor to be associated with a club of Real Madrid's stature. Millions of children's dreams across the would compass themselves to the Santiago Bernabeu. An elite list of players have graced the white jersey over the years and history fills the air in the Spanish capital. 

    To be a captain for Real Madrid, it takes something more. Its just something that writing or speaking couldn't explain. 

    The following players on this list had that extra spark to be honored with captaining the biggest football club in the world. 

    Hala Madrid!

10. Fernando Hierro

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    BARCELONA - FEBRUARY 2:  Fernando Hierro of Real Madrid brings the ball out of defence during the Spanish Primera Liga match between Espanyol and Real Madrid held on February 2, 2003 at the Olimpico de Montjuic Stadium, in Barcelona, Spain. The match ende
    Firo Foto/Getty Images

    Full Name: Fernando Ruiz Hierro

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Centre Back/Defensive Midfielder 

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1989–2003

    Years of Captaincy: 2001-2003

    Fernando Hierro was a great defensive player, equally splitting playing time between centre back and defensive midfielder. He was a Spanish native from Velez-Malaga, and played for Real Madrid for nearly 15 seasons. 

    Hierro started his playing career at his hometowns local club, Velez-Malaga. After tryout for a bigger, better neighboring team, Malaga CF, Hierro was told he wasn't good enough to make the squad. A few short years later he made his La Liga debut with Real Valladolid, where he played for two seasons. 

    After solid performances for two seasons he caught the attention of Spanish giants, Real Madrid. He joined Los Blancos in 1989 and continued his excellent play, scoring seven goals in 37 matches. 

    Point blank, his defensive dominance and excellent vision of the game, alongside his surprising talent and knack for goalscoring, made him one of the world's most popular defenders. He was named captain when his defensive partner, Manuel Sanchis, retired in 2001. With the Merengues, he won five La Liga and three UEFA Champions League trophies, over the course of nearly 15 years.

    Real Madrid Honors


      • UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2001–02
      • UEFA Super Cup: 2002
      • Intercontinental Cup: 1998, 2002
      • Spanish League: 1989–90, 1994–95, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2002–03
      • Spanish Cup: 1992–93
      • Spanish Supercup: 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001


    • UEFA Best Defender: 1997–98
    • FIFA World Cup: All-star team 2002

9. Amancio

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    Full Name: Amancio Amaro Varela

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Forward

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1962-1976

    Years of Captaincy: 1974-1976

    Amancio Amaro Varela, also known as El Brujo (The Witch), was an excellent Spanish forward who represented Deportivo de La Coruña, Real Madrid, and Spain.

    Amancio began his career aged 15 at local side, Victoria Club de Futbol, in the district of Santa Lucia. After four successful years in the youth stages of Victoria CF, he joined Deportivo de La Coruña in 1958, who were in Spain's Second Division.

    Growing as a forward on Deportivo he helped them get promoted to La Liga where his solid play caught the attention of Real Madrid's scouts. He joined Real Madrid in 1962 and earned his spot on the roster. In his first six seasons in Madrid, he won a breathtaking six La Liga titles.

    He also took the titles of Pichichi back-to-back seasons during 1969 and 1970. Playing for Real Madrid changed the career of Amancio but he also changed the team, especially during his years of captaincy in 1974-1976, until his retirement. Upon hanging up his boots, he joined the technical team of Real Madrid.

    Real Madrid Honors  


    • European Cup: 1965–66
    • Spanish League: 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72, 1974–75, 1975–76
    • Spanish Cup: 1969–70, 1973–74, 1974–75


    • Pichichi: 1968–69, 1969–70
    • Pichichi: Second Division 1961–62
    • Ballon d'Or: Third Place 1964

8. Ignacio Zoco

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    Full Name: Ignacio Zoco Esparza

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Midfield/Defense

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1962-1974

    Years of Captaincy: 1971-1974

    Ignacio Zoco was a crafty midfielder for Los Blancos 1962-1974, captaining and leading the team in 1971-1974. The Spaniard played in the European Cup Final in 1966, starting at center back. 

    He started his career in Oberena before transferring to Osasuna, where he made his name and caught the attention of Real Madrid. 

    During his years at captaincy, Real Madrid won the Spanish League and Spanish Cup. 

    Real Madrid Honors

    • European Cup: 1965–66
    • Spanish League: 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72
    • Spanish Cup: 1969–70, 1973–74

7. José María Zárraga

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    Full Name: José María Zárraga Martín

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Midfield

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1951-1962

    Years of Captaincy: 1958-1961

    José María Zárraga Martín started his professional playing career in 1948 for Arenas, his hometown club. After a successful season he moved to Plus Ultra for two seasons, where he then was recruited by Real Madrid and join the club in 1951. 

    Zarraga was part of Madrid's European Cup victories in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960. His leadership and good played earned him 10 caps for the Spanish National Team. 

    • Intercontinental Cup: 1960
    • European Cup: 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60
    • Latin Cup: 1955, 1957
    • Spanish League: 1953–54, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1961–62
    • Spanish Cup: 1961–62

6. Pirri

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    Full Name: José Martínez Sánchez

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Midfield

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1964-1980

    Years of Captaincy: 1976-1979

    José Martínez Sánchez, also simply known as Pirri, was a Spanish midfielder who hailed from Ceuta, Spain. It was precisely there where he started his youth career at SD Ceuta and Atletico Ceuta. Upon starting his professional career, Pirri played for one season for Granada before being inked to Real Madrid. 

    He called Santiago Bernabeu, home for 15 seasons (1964-1980) where he made over four-hundred appearances and winning 10 Spanish league titles, four Spanish cups, and the 1966 European Champion Clubs' Cup. 

    When his tenure and leadership led to his captain status, he led Real Madrid to three Spanish League titles, and one Spanish Cup. 

    • European Cup: 1965–66
    • Spanish League: 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80
    • Spanish Cup: 1969–70, 1973–74, 1974–75, 1979–80

5. Santillana

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    Full Name: Carlos Alonso González

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Striker

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1971-1988

    Years of Captaincy: 1979-1988

    After spending just one season in Racing Santander, Carlos Alonso González, better known as Santillana after his hometown in Spain, was purchased by Real Madrid in 1971. 

    Having a successful career at Madrid, Santillana won nine league trophies, adding four domestic cups and back-to-back UEFA Cups, where he scored in both of the finals. He played 778 first team matches, in which he scored 352 goals. He is the eighth highest topscorer of all-time in the Spanish first division where he netted 186 goals in 461 matches. 

    He captained Real Madrid for nine seasons and was known for his leadership as well as his stellar heading ability, despite not reaching 1.80m (5 ft 9 in), and was widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the history of Spanish football at the time. 

    Real Madrid Honors

    • UEFA Cup: 1984–85, 1985–86
    • Spanish League: 1971–72, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88
    • Spanish Cup: 1973–74, 1974–75, 1979–80, 1981–82
    • Spanish League Cup: 1984–85

4. Francisco Gento

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    Full Name: Francisco Gento López

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Forward

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1953-1971

    Years of Captaincy: 1961-1971

    Beginning his professional career with Racing Santander for just one season, he came to Real Madrid in 1953. He became a legendary player while donning the number 11 shirt at Real Madrid. 

    La Galerna del Cantábrico (The Storm of Cantabrian Sea) was a left-sided master and was well known for his blistering speed. He had great technique and skill and was a great scorer from long range. He was the captain of the legendary Ye-Ye squad. 

    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1960
    • European Cup (6): 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1965–66
    • Latin Cup (1): 1955, 1957
    • Spanish League (12): 1953–54, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69
    • Spanish Cup (2): 1961–62, 1969–70

3. Miguel Muñoz Mozún

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    Full Name: Miguel Muñoz Mozún

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Midfielder

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1948-1958

    Years of Captaincy: 1948-1958

    Miguel Muñoz Mozún was an excellent Spanish midfielder who spent most of his career at Real Madrid. Although he failed to attract attention from Real Madrid early in his career, it was his spell in Celta Vigo that gave him his name. 

    After signing for Madrid, Muñoz would onto a successful career in the nations capital. He went on to appear in 347 official matches and score Real Madrid's first ever goal in the European Cup against Servette FC and then eventually captaining Los Blancos to two consecutive European Cup wins in 1956 and 1957. He then retired the next year.

    • European Cup: 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58
    • Spanish League: 1953–54, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58
    • Latin Cup: 1955, 1957

2. Raul

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    Full Name: Raúl González Blanco

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Striker

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1994-2010

    Years of Captaincy: 2003-2010

    Raul Gonzalez is a prodigy of the Real Madrid Academy. He spent his entire playing career with Madrid until 2010 when he made the move to Schalke 04. He left Madrid the all-time leading goalscorer. 

    Raúl is a three-time winner of the UEFA Champions League and has long been the competition's all-time leading goalscorer. He left Real Madrid on 25 July 2010, having scored 323 goals in 740 appearances for Los Blancos.

    Although him and Real Madrid parted way, he is a true Blanco for life. 

    Real Madrid Honors

    • La Liga (6): 1994–95, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08
    • Supercopa de España (4): 1997, 2001, 2003, 2008
    • UEFA Champions League (3): 1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2002
    • Intercontinental Cup (2): 1998, 2002


    • Don Balón Award for Breakthrough Player in La Liga: 1995
    • Premio Don Balón for Best Spanish player in La Liga (5): 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02
    • ESM Team of the Year (3): 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–00
    • Zarra Trophy (4): 1995–96, 1998–99, 2000–01, 2002–03
    • Intercontinental Cup Best Player: 1998
    • IFFHS Best Forward: 1999
    • Pichichi Trophy (2): 1999, 2001
    • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer (2): 1999–2000, 2000–01
    • UEFA Club Forward of the Year (3): 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02
    • Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament
    • FIFA World Player of the Year Bronze Award: 2001
    • Ballon d'Or Silver Award: 2001
    • FIFA 100
    • Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano: 2008
    • Golden Foot award 2nd place: 2009
    • In the World Team of the Decade by Mirror Football: 2009
    • Marca Leyenda: 2009


    • Real Madrid Record Goalscorer: 323 goals
    • Real Madrid Record Appearance Maker: 741 games
    • UEFA Champions League Record Goalscorer: 71 goals
    • UEFA Champions League Record Appearance Maker: 142 games
    • European Competitions Record Goalscorer: 72 goals
    • European Competitions Record Appearance Maker: 145 games
    • UEFA Competitions Record Goalscorer: 73 goals
    • UEFA Competitions Record Appearance Maker: 148 games

1. Manuel Sanchís

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    24 May 2000:  Manuel Sanchis of Real Madrid holds the trophy high after the European Champions League Final 2000 against Valencia at the Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France. Real Madrid won 3-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Full Name: Manuel Sanchís Hontiyuelo

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Sweeper

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1983-2001

    Years of Captaincy: 1988-2001

    Manuel Sanchís was a part of the famous Quinta del Buitre, which stemmed from the Real Madrid youth ranks. He was the only of its five members to play his entire career for the capital side. 

    During the following 15 seasons, Sanchís appeared in less than 30 matches in two of those seasons, and was vital in the Merengues' several conquests, including six leagues, two Champions League and two UEFA Cups. In 1999–2000, he helped to the club's 8th European Cup.

    Sanchís retired in 2001, having appeared in 710 overall matches for Real Madrid while also captaining the side during 13 years.

    Real Madrid Honors

    • UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–00
    • UEFA Cup: 1984–85, 1985–86
    • Intercontinental Cup: 1998; Runner-up 2000
    • Spanish League: 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1994–95, 1996–97, 2000–01
    • Spanish Cup: 1988–89, 1992–93; Runner-up 1989–90, 1991–92, 2001–02
    • Spanish Supercup: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1997; Runner-up 1995
    • Spanish League Cup: 1984–85
    • UEFA Super Cup: Runner-up 1998, 2000


    • Spanish Footballer of the Year: 1989–90

Iker Casillas (Current Captain)

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    MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 19: Iker Casillas of Real Madrid shows the trophy of Golden Glove Award prior of the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty
    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    Full Name: Iker Casillas Fernández

    International Team: Spain 

    Playing Position: Goalkeeper

    Seasons at Real Madrid: 1998-present

    Years of Captaincy: 2010-present

    Casillas is a product of Real Madrid's youth system and started in the junior squad during the 1990–91 season. He was first called up to the first team on November 27, 1997, at age of 16 to face Rosenborg in Champions League. 

    Since coming onto the pitch as a teenager, Iker Casillas has captured the heart of Spaniards. He is the skipper of the national side, as well as Real Madrid. His list of credentials are endless and he has never represented another club besides Real Madrid.

    As of July 2010 Casillas is one of a very select group of players who have won all major club and national championship titles. On October 19, 2010, Casillas became the most capped goalkeeper of all time in the UEFA Champions League at just 29. 

    A true leader and fierce captain. Hala Casillas!

    Real Madrid Honors

    • La Liga (4): 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08
    • Supercopa de España (3): 2001, 2003, 2008.
    • UEFA Champions League (2): 1999–2000, 2001–02
    • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2002
    • Intercontinental Cup (1): 1998, 2002


    • Bravo Award: 2000
    • Don Balón Award: Breakthrough Player 2000
    • UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
    • ESM Team of the Year: 2007–08
    • Zamora Trophy: 2007–08
    • UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008
    • FIFA World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010
    • FIFA/FIFPro World's best goalkeeper 2008, 2009, 2010
    • IFFHS Best Goalkeeper: 2008, 2009, 2010
    • ESM Best European Goalkeeper: 2008, 2010
    • Team of the Year: 2008
    • LFP best goalkeeper: 2008–09
    • FIFA World Cup Golden Glove: 2010 
    • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010



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