Pepe is an all-time great at the center back position, there is no doubt about that. It almost feels wrong ranking him 40th, but that speaks more to the quality of the players who made the top 40. The Portuguese legend spent about a decade in Madrid from 2007 to 2017, progressing from a talented but rash center back into a certified baller, bossing any forward who came his way and regularly making interventions early, well outside his box.
The man fit the Real Madrid ethos of defending perfectly, learning from Fabio Cannavaro and then creating an even greater legacy at the world’s most storied club. Pepe won LaLiga three times, the Copa del Rey twice, and the Champions League three times. By the time he left Madrid, he was still at the top of his game, and even at the age of 39, he is still a star for his national team and FC Porto.
The lovable Chendo may be unseated by Dani Carvajal in the future, but this legendary right back was the definition of class in his own right. One of the greatest players in Real Madrid history in terms of both his quality and his impact, Chendo would always give his 100 percent to the club in every match, and his 100 percent was transcendent at times.
Chendo was at the club for nearly two decades, his Real Madrid career spanning from 1982 to 1998. He won LaLiga five straight times in the 80’s and then two more times in the 90’s. The Champions League? Chendo won that trophy in 1997/98, a decade after securing back-to-back UEFA Cups.
38. Ignacio Zoco
Ignacio Zoco is another player who defines being a Real Madrid legend. The midfielder logged 318 appearances for Los Blancos from 1962 to 1974, becoming a key starter for the Merengues after paying his dues in his first season signed from Pamplona-based outfit, Osasuna.
Zoco won LaLiga seven times as Real Madrid dominated the league in the 60’s, snagging a European Cup in 1965, too. The Spanish international had won the Euros with his country the year before, too.
Back to the defenders, Marquitos is as good of a defender as you’ll find in Real Madrid history’s – being ranked ahead of Pepe is no short feat, for example. But Marquitos was an even bigger Madrid legend, playing for the club from 1954 to 1962 and claiming both five European Cups and five league titles for Los Merengues.
Marquitos is definitely one of the finest center backs Madrid has ever seen, forming the backbone of that ridiculous five-peat European Cup side.
36. Claude Makélélé
The creator of “The Makélélé Role”, Claude Makélélé is one of the most influential players in the history of football – not just Real Madrid. Florentino Pérez’s short-sighted decision to sell him – he basically lied to Makélélé and said he would be extended and taken care of, not dumped off – and replace him with David Beckham was disastrous. It cost Real Madrid titles and ended Pérez’s first reign as president.
Makélélé is one of the most well-rounded, intelligent, and effective defensive midfielders the world has ever seen. He set the blueprint and has one of the strongest legacies in Real Madrid history despite only spending three seasons with the club. He really should have been there more, but from what fans saw, he was truly elite.