Hala Madrid Part VIII: Vultures Feast

Hala Madrid

Through over 100 years of history, Real Madrid has become one of the most recognizable names in world football. But how did they get there? In partnership with Howler magazine, The Center Circle is embarking on a multi-part journey from the roots of this historic club to the Cristiano Ronaldo era it enjoys today. If you consider yourself a Real fan, or really just a soccer fan in general, this is for you. Finally, do you see that “Hala Madrid” graphic right above this? You can click on that to open up Howler’s incredible Real Madrid timeline, replete with informative tidbits, pictures, and some cool graphics. Scroll through each section, zoom in to read, and enjoy.

Previously: Part I – Part II – Part III – Part IV – Part V – Part VI – Part VII

Part VIII: Vultures Feast

Emilio Butragueno

Emilio Butragueno

For new fans of the club, the 1960’s and 80’s are a bit of a shock. Real Madrid today is a club that spends lavishly to sign sexy and foreign players and win the Champions League. For example, in the 2014 Champions League final, the team’s starting XI featured only three Spaniards: Casillas, Ramos and Carvajal. However, the Ye-Ye generation showed Madrid could cultivate young native talent. And in the 1980’s, the club’s cantera (youth academy) produced stunning group of players.

The pick of the litter was Emilio Butragueno, nicknamed El Buitre (the Vulture) because of his thin frame and lanky stride. A striker, he also possessed the keen ability to be in the right place at the right time, often knocking in rebounds and half-saves. Still, you wouldn’t call him a poacher – he was too elegant, too effortless. His movement off the ball was limited but precise.

Before the success came the heartbreak. The 1980 season just may have been the most heartbreaking in Real Madrid history. First, in La Liga, Real Madrid raced nose-to-nose with Real Sociedad. In the last game of the season, away to Sporting Gijon, Socied scored a goal off a setpiece in the very last minute of play to tie, earn a point, and win La Liga at Madrid’s expense. Things went even worse in the European Cup. Real Madrid at last reached the final after more than a decade, but were thoroughly out-muscled by Bob Paisley’s Liverpool. They lost 1-0.

Luckily, in addition to Butragueno, Real Madrid’s youth system, then known as la fabrica (the factory), produced other great players like Manolo Sanchis, Martin Vazquez, Michel, and Miguel Pardez. This group was nicknamed La Quinta del Buitre, “the Vulture’s Cohort.” The club also signed prolific Mexican striker Hugo “Hugol” Sanchez from rivals Atletico de Madrid, and the club was unstoppable. Hugol was La Liga’s top goalscorer from 1985-1988. Domestically, the team won five La Ligas in a row and a King’s Cup.

In Europe, though, the team did well but failed to match the glory of the 1950’s. They twice won the UEFA Cup, the ugly sister of the Champions League. They also lost in historically bad fashion in the 1987 Champions League semis, losing 4-1 away to Bayern Munich after fiery winger Juanito stamped Lothar Matheus for diving. Still, despite these setbacks, it was pretty good times for Madrid. They owned La Liga, Juanito and Hugol brought a sense of urgency and passion to the play, and they were knocking at the door to European greatness.


Part IX: Stagnation and the Septima


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About the author: Elliott Turner


Elliott blogs about soccer at Futfanatico.com . He has written for The Guardian, Yahoo Sports, Fox Soccer, The Blizzard, and Howler Magazine. He is the author of "An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish".

Website: http://www.futfanatico.com/


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