Real Madrid is the undisputed king of Europe, having won 13 European Cups in total, including seven in the Champions League era – more than the next best club in history (AC Milan).
Los Blancos have won the European Cup four times in the last eight seasons, including an unprecedented three-peat between 2016 and 2018.
They’ve also been a domestic powerhouse for the last three decades, winning nine league crowns, three Copas del Rey, and eight Supercopas. Not bad for a time when fierce rivals Barcelona had arguably the greatest team in history.
From home-grown products to Ballon d’Or-winning Galácticos, the Santiago Bernabéu has hosted some of the world’s top players. But who will make the cut? Who are the top ten people of the contemporary era? Here is where we’ve compiled our ranking.
10. Ronaldo Nazario
Real Madrid appearances: 177
Real Madrid goals: 104
Real Madrid trophies: 3
Ronaldo made his Real Madrid debut with a goal just 61 seconds in, and it was evident that he was something special. The original Ronaldo, a World Cup winner with two Ballon d’Ors, was the best player in the world when he arrived, the quintessential Galáctico signing.
While his trophy haul is less impressive than that of others on this list, and injuries began to take their toll, O Fenômeno is remembered as a brilliant striker at the club. His stunning hat-trick at Old Trafford in the Champions League has to be considered his crowning achievement in the famous jersey.
9. Roberto Carlos
Real Madrid appearances: 527
Real Madrid goals: 69
Real Madrid trophies: 13
Brazil certainly knows how to develop full-backs. For a decade at Madrid, Roberto Carlos was an all-action flamboyant force. He was one of the first to reimagine the position and commit to offensive football.
Until recently, no foreign player had played more times for Real Madrid than him, and his endurance is remarkable given the club’s churn at the turn of the century. His free-kick method appeared impossible, but he was able to replicate the feat frequently enough to persuade. Roberto Carlos, a decorated full-back, inspired Marcelo to follow in his footsteps, hence he earns a spot on our list.
8. Gareth Bale
Real Madrid appearances: 254
Real Madrid goals: 106
Real Madrid trophies: 13
The shy Welshman rose to the top and, for five years, was a key part of a lethal Madrid front three that conquered and then controlled Europe. He arrived in tremendous excitement, called “the next Cristiano,” and had a transfer fee that exceeded even CR7’s four years previously. In his first season, he scored in both the Copa del Rey and the UCL finals. That scorching run that left Marc Bartra clutching at thin air became legendary, but he didn’t stop there.
Overall, the Welsh wizard scored four times in four finals for Real Madrid, including that brace against Karius in 2018. His later years were a letdown, but it should not overshadow his prime. He has a strong argument to be considered Britain’s greatest footballing export, and certainly the best British player to ever play for Real Madrid. Becks, I apologize.
7. Luka Modrić
Real Madrid appearances: 403
Real Madrid goals: 28
Real Madrid trophies: 13
Modric, without a doubt, is one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, having successfully converted the often-hostile Madrid press to go from record flop to Ballon d’Or winner during his stay at the club. Lukita had a rough start after joining Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2012, but he has since gone from strength to strength and continues to dictate the tempo of Madrid’s midfield into his mid-thirties.
Los Blancos have arguably the best midfield in Europe over the last five years, led by metronome Toni Kroos and dependable Casemiro. Modric, who has just reached the 400-match mark with the club, will shortly be among the top 20 appearance-makers of all time. He is currently playing at the highest levels for club and country and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
6. Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid appearances: 230
Real Madrid goals: 49
Real Madrid trophies: 6
Zizou requires no introduction. Zidane, another Galáctico on this list, is a virtuoso with the ball at his feet, with close control that makes other professionals look amateur. After winning nearly everything during his time at the club, he left on his own terms in 2006, retiring when many thought he could have gone on. His spectacular shot in the 2002 Champions League final at Hampden Park is an indelible reminder of his grandeur.
He would be higher on this list if his coaching success was included, but based solely on his playing days, he is just outside the top five.
Real Madrid appearances: 725
Real Madrid goals: 0
Real Madrid trophies: 19
Casillas, or San Iker as he is affectionately known, is the best Spanish goalkeeper of all time and Madrid’s greatest ever shot-stopper. He made his debut as a bright-eyed 18-year-old and quickly made the position his own, becoming a vital part of the Champions League-winning club just as he turned 20. Real Madrid never needed to hire a big-name goalkeeper because Casillas established himself as one. Casillas was a fan favourite for well over a decade as an ever-present, always-dependable goalkeeper.
He outlasted the other stars, playing until 2015, and was the one who lifted the coveted 10th European title in Lisbon. For the lad from Móstoles, defeating Atleti to accomplish the milestone made it much sweeter. Only one individual has appeared for the club more times, and he is significantly higher on this list.
Real Madrid appearances: 741
Real Madrid goals: 323
Real Madrid trophies: 16
Raul, the homeboy, the perpetual son, must be ranked high. After leaving the Atleti youth system, he joined the Valdebebas ranks and went on to become a legend. He scored in the first half of a Madrid derby on his home debut and never looked back. He is the club’s all-time appearance leader and, until Cristiano joined, its all-time scorer. He won six league titles in 16 seasons, the most of any player on this list, given his career occurred after the Cruyff years and before Pep’s peak at Barça.
This excellent timing reflects his goal-scoring instincts, as he always knows where to be at the right time. Madridistas will be hoping that now that he is involved in the youth coaching setup, he might discover a new version of himself. That could be his most lasting legacy.
3. Karim Benzema
Real Madrid appearances: 575
Real Madrid goals: 293
Real Madrid trophies: 18
It’s one thing for a foreign player to stay at Real Madrid for 12 years, but it’s quite another for a forward to do so. Benzema is a stalwart who has witnessed the Jose Mourinho era, both Ancelotti periods, and everything in between. When he arrived from Lyon, he was the ideal partner for Ronaldo, his unselfish link-up play allowing others to flourish.
Since the departure of the Portuguese, Benzema has demonstrated his true worth to the club. For the previous few years, Benzema has led the assault, frequently on his own, and is the indisputable MVP of the squad and La Liga as a whole. The Ballon d’Or campaign is not too far-fetched, progressing from facilitator to frightening finisher. Soon, he will enter the exclusive 300-goal club, and he is only 15 goals away from joining Alfredo di Stéfano on the pantheon podium. One thing is certain: he is among the top three on this list.
2. Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid appearances: 671
Real Madrid goals: 101
Real Madrid trophies: 22
Sergio Ramos, if you had to define the ultimate Madridista, gets fairly close. Despite being a Seville native, Ramos has personified everything about the club and its supporters over the last 15 years. This icon has been important to their success throughout the years as a leader, a warrior with an eye for goal, a brilliant CV, and a long list of accolades. This summer’s departure seemed seismic, and it was a tragic way for his legend to end. What a story it was, though.
Initially signed as a right-back, he later went inside to dominate the boxes at both ends of the field. His defining moment, like many others, occurred on that night in Lisbon in May 2014. Atletico Madrid was on the verge of becoming European champions, but Sergio Ramos had other plans. Leaping into the air, he blasted home the equalizer, saving Madrid and crushing Atleti.
His developing collaboration with Raphael Varane blossomed into a powerful understanding, laying the groundwork for future victories. Ramos will be remembered as a volatile adversary, but also as a ferocious competitor who bled for Real Madrid.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid appearances: 438
Real Madrid goals: 450
Real Madrid trophies: 15
The figures are hard to believe. This money was paid back with interest thanks to a scoring ratio of more than a goal per game over nine years, despite arriving amid passionate euphoria and a world record transfer fee.
Although he was a part of that summer spending spree in 2009, it was always going to be the Cristiano show, and what a performance it was. Ronaldo is Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer, having led the club to three successive European crowns. Mr Champions League was always present on the biggest stages, scoring the winning goals in famous comebacks against Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, as well as pressure penalties when everything was on the line. Cristiano was a dead cert for goals, pushing the bar to extra-terrestrial proportions.
He scored 50 goals in the knockout stages alone, which is more than many football legends achieve in their whole careers.
His development was remarkable. Ronaldo evolved from a quick winger in José Mourinho’s counter-attacking machine to a freakishly reliable penalty box scorer by 2018. Perhaps the most startling number is that Cristiano scored 17.5 percent of the 600 goals Real Madrid has scored in the Champions League era (105). There can undoubtedly be few who argue that he deserves to be regarded as Real Madrid’s finest player of the modern age.
Please follow @Familyliferinfo on Twitter
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.