Ranking the 75 best players in Real Madrid history

Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Luís Figo
Real Madrid, Luís Figo (photo by Gary M.Prior/Getty Images) /

20. Roberto Carlos

If it weren’t for Marcelo, Roberto Carlos would be the greatest left back in Real Madrid history. In terms of athletic ability, there isn’t a fullback in history who comes close to Roberto Carlos. His speed was truly something else, as he could accelerate so quickly up the pitch, Real Madrid teammates would cross the ball to the other side of the field knowing that Roberto Carlos would get there. Madridistas would not see him on their screens, but he would be there.

His defending was also fantastic, contrary to what the uneducated will spout to you. He was a great, aggressive attacking left back, but his speed and take-no-prisoners approach to tackling made him a fearsome and effective defender, even if he did leave a lot of space behind him. It was worth it. Roberto Carlos was a special player, and everyone who got to see him play in a Real Madrid kit is blessed for it.

19. Luís Figo

Luís Figo leaving Barcelona for Real Madrid – a trap set by Florentino Pérez against his agent – is one of the most infamous transfers in football history and the move that set the stage for the Galáticos. Though Zinedine Zidane’s legacy surpassed that of Figo’s, the Portuguese icon was the most consistent of the Galactic signings for Los Blancos in that era.

Though Figo ended up scoring fewer than 50 goals for the Merengues during his time at the Bernabéu, he did so much in terms of creating chances and progressing the ball. A warrior on the pitch, Figo would embrace his move from Barcelona to Real Madrid. He goes down in history as one of the greatest wide playmakers and wingers to ever play the game.

18. Santillana

Every true Madridista knows that Santillana is in hallowed territory among the all-time greats in the club’s history. Santillana was a striker for Los Blancos from 1971 to 1988, getting a then-record 778 appearances in all competitions while forming a devastating partnership with another absolute legend of the Merengue club, Juanito.

Santillana scored 10 goals and was league champion in his first season as a teenager, so, like many great Madrid strikers, it did not take him long to make an imprint on the squad. His clinical finishing and remarkable aerial ability helped the Merengue club win nine league titles and four Copas del Rey during his nearly two decades at the Bernabéu. With 290 career goals, Santillana ranks fifth all-time in Real Madrid history.

17. Juanito

The man for whom Madridismo was coined, Juanito is one of the most ingenious and passionate players to have stepped foot on a football pitch. Juanito spent a decade in Madrid from 1977 to 1987, standing out on a team that also boasted a host of icons on this list, such as Vicente del Bosque in midfield and Santillana in attack.

An attacking player of his own, Juanito scored 121 times in 401 matches, taking the breath of Madridistas away with his dribbling chops. Nobody quite captured lightning-in-a-bottle or the hearts of fans like Juanito. His legacy is forever entrenched.

16. Amancio

Sometimes it feels like Amancio gets overlooked when discussing the Real Madrid legends, but there is little doubt that Amancio is both one of the greatest players in club history and also one of the greatest right wingers in football history.

Amancio played for Los Blancos from 1962 to 1976, scoring 155 goals in 471 matches across all competitions, winning the league nine times and the European Cup once. The definition of world-class, Amancio’s skill made him the player to watch on the pitch for many fans. His legacy extends to coaching Castilla, where his eye for talent was instrumental in setting up another generation of success in Madrid.