“This Real Madrid side is not a young one, they are experienced veterans who know everything and more about winning this competition. They have lived it all, won the coveted prize three times a row under Zinedine Zidane. Some of these experienced campaigners were with the side when the current manager, Carlo Ancelotti, led the white army to the landmark tenth European Cup. They call it ‘La Decima’ inside the club.”
These were the words of Martin Tyler when Real Madrid hosted PSG in the Bernabeu for the Round of 16 second leg of the Champions League. Tyler was commentating on that historic night. And, for goodness sake, he didn’t end up calling this resilient Real Madrid side an ‘old squad’. However, his words were true. So many of the current first-team stars have enjoyed elongated spells in the White Shirt. In said spells, they have won silverware and rewritten the Madridlore. As such, which current club veterans merit the ‘Legend’ status? I make my picks here.
I am starting the list with more unlikely picks. For many, Isco’s importance in the squad has come down. Ever since the iconic Kroos-Casemiro-Modric (KCM) midfield trio took flight and Real Madrid shifted to a standard 4-3-3 starting formation, chances have been scarce for other midfielders. There were so many good ones if we roll back the years. Players like Mateo Kovacic, James Rodriguez, etc. come to mind. But, Isco was built differently. He battled for a role in the squad and he ended up finding one on the wings.
Isco played a major role in the 2018-19 season when he stepped up in a more attacking role. With Gareth Bale’s inconsistency and Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus posing a major threat to Real’s play on the wings, Isco didn’t mind flanking Karim Benzema in the attack. And, that’s special about Isco. The former Malaga man respected the club badge enough to fight for minutes, change positions, and yet found a way to contribute to the team. He was undoubtedly instrumental in materializing the Champions League three-peat under Zinedine Zidane.
Isco is now close to leaving the club. He did have his moments this season as well. Especially in the Copa del Rey, where the veteran had a great run of matches. As we come close to bidding him goodbye, I do see him merit an entry into the club’s Legends section. He is making the most of the remaining days. He is bringing his kids to match days, whether or not he is playing. He gets out on the pitch after the final whistle and kicks the ball around with his kids.
That’s probably more meaningful than meets the eye. Isco loves the club, he loves the success he enjoyed in the White Shirt and he means to soak every available bit of this magical time with small gestures as such. His trophy cabinet with Los Blancos includes four Champions League titles, four Club World Cups, three each of LaLiga, Supercopa, and Super Cup, and one Copa del Rey. His contributions in the big games, especially the Champions League final in 2016-17 against Juventus and the UEFA Super Cup final in 2017 will always be remembered by Madridistas.