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Real Madrid -where soccer plugs into the fabulous world of the gods. Eleven players, a beautiful home stadium (Santiago Bernabeu) and the most demanding crowd ever to be. Our record? No less than 7 (!!) European Champions' Leagues (or the former equivalent), the most recent won in 1998. That means that RM towers above other giants such as AC Milan, Juve or Man United in this standard.

In this case, Real Madrid stands for "Royal" Madrid... there are other football clubs in Spain that use the adjective "Real" in their names, such as Real Betis, Real Celta de Vigo, Real Mallorca, Real Oviedo, Real Sociedad, Real Valladolid and Real Zaragoza.

Winners of 8 European Champions Leagues: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998 and 2000. Winner of 3 World Club Cups: 1960, 1998 and 2000. Winner of 2 UEFA Cups: 1985 and 1986. Has also won the Spanish Cup 17 times and the Spanish Primera Liga 27 times, finishing as runners-up 15 times.

On March 6, 1902, the aristocrat brothers Juan and Carlos Prádos decided to found the Madrid Football Club. The prefix Real (Royal) was handed to the club on June 26, 1920 by King Alfonso XIII. Six years later Real Madrid was one of the pioneers of the introduction of professional football in Spain.

President: Santiago Bernabéu
Professional football did not mark the start of a successful period for the club. Victories came only with the presidency of Santiago Bernabéu. The former striker was elected President of the club on September 15, 1943, at a time that the club belonged to the grey middle rankings of the Spanish competition. Bernabéu however had ambitious plans to take Real Madrid to the highest level possible. He started his actions with collecting money so that a new stadium could be built. But after Estadio Chamartín had risen next to the traffic aorta Paseo Castellana in December 1947, the club was broke and could not buy a single significant player for the next five years.

Discovery in Bogotá
The turning point was 1952. Real Madrid participated in a football tournament and encountered Millionarios, a team from Columbian capital Bogotá. In the Millionarios squad, a 25-year-old Argentine midfielder starred. He was called Alfredo di Stefano. Mention his name to Real Madrid fans now, and they will show you their chickenpocks. Di Stefano actually had already signed a contract at FC Barcelona, but the Madrid staff convinced the Argentinean to sign for them. After a quarrel and a intervention by the Spanish football association, Di Stefano went to Madrid and marked the start of the most successful period of any football club in the world.

A German called Alfredo
Alfredo di Stefano, nicknamed El Alemán (the German) because of his blond hair, played 6 times for Argentina and, after a naturalisation, 31 matches for the Spanish national team. He was European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959, and he was kidnapped for a short time during a round trip with Real Madrid through Venezuela in 1965.

Puskas, Kopa, Gento, Santamaría
During Di Stefano's stay, from 1953 to 1964, he scored 402 goals in 624 official matches, thus providing the opportunity for the club to win numerous prizes. With the midfielder and other stars as Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, Francisco 'Paco' Gento and José Emilio Santamaría, Real Madrid won 8 of its 27 national titles in this period: 1954, '55, '57, '58, '61, '63, and '64. The club also won the European Champions League (or better the equivalent, the European Champions Cup) five times in a row after its introduction, from 1956 to 1960.

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Real Madrid would win the major trophy again in 1966, 1998 and 2000, being finalist in 1962, 1964 and 1981 as well. Santiago Bernabéu was a legend already during his life. Even before he died in 1978, the stadium was called after the legendary chairman: Estadio Chamartín was now known as Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

The 1980s
Although the club lacked true European successes for long, the eighties were reasonably successful as well for Real Madrid. Under president Ramón Mendoza the club won six League Titles(1986, '87, '88, '89, '90, and '95), two Spanish Cups and two UEFA Cups. Here the victories were in the hands of five brilliant footballers, also known as la quinta del Buitre (literally: the five of the vulture): Emilio Butragueño (nicknamed El Buitre, the vulture), Manuel Sanchis, Michel, Rafael Martín Vázquez and Miguel Pedraza. They all came from Real's satellite club Castilla, an exceptional youth institute.

Sloppy years
After their Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker quit the club, Real Madrid had some sloppy years, until their victory in the UEFA Champions League in 1998 and 2000. Current heroes are Ronaldo, Raúl Gonzalez Blanco, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane.

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