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, Paco Buyo
Real Madrid, Paco Buyo (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images) /

35. José Santamaría

José Santamaría was a serial winner. After claiming the top title in Uruguay five times at Nacional, Santamaría became a legend at another historic club, Real Madrid. He played 227 games for the club from 1957 to 1966, one of the early greats in a proud succession of elite center backs to suit up for the Royal White club.

The Uruguayan and Spanish international was nicknamed “The Wall”. Though it is certainly not the most creative nickname for a defensive player, it shows you just how damn good Santamaría was at his job – good enough to snag six league titles and four European Cups.

34. Francisco Buyo

One of the many great goalkeepers in Real Madrid history, “Paco” Buyo holds a special place in the hearts of Madridistas. Buyo is a legend of LaLiga, having played for Mallorca, Deportivo La Coruña, Huesca, and Sevilla before joining Real.

But his time with Los Blancos was obviously the most special of his career. He appeared in 343 matches for the Merengues from 1986 to 1997, capturing the Zamora Trophy twice. An institution in Madrid, Buyo set records with his ability to keep opponents off the scoresheet – including over 700 minutes at one point – and was a six-time LaLiga winner. By the way, he never won the league at any of those other clubs.

33. Casemiro

The missing piece to Real Madrid winning the three-peat, Casemiro took Real Madrid from a team that won La Decima but bottled it against Juventus in the 2014/15 semifinals to a truly unstoppable juggernaut. His defensive-focused playing style, hard-as-hell tackling, and ingenious off-the-ball command of attackers made him the best No. 6 in the world – a distinction he still honors, particularly in the biggest of matches.

Casemiro has three league titles and five Champions League crowns to his name, and it is no coincidence that the Merengues have won so much with Case in the building. One of the best bargains in football history at just a handful of million euros from São Paulo, Casemiro could finish in the top 25 by the time his career in Madrid ends.

32. Miguel Muñoz

Another Madridista who was both a distinguished legend as a player and a manager, Miguel Muñoz commanded the Madrid midfield for a decade from 1948 to 1958, making 223 league appearances. Muñoz won four league titles as a player and three straight European Cups.

As a manager, he was even more prolific in the league, grabbing a dominant nine titles. And he was still great in European competition, guiding the greatest club in the world to two more European Cups.

31. Ronaldo Nazário

Though the first Ronaldo at Real Madrid only spent a handful of seasons with the club, he was a different type of player to what Madridistas had seen before. The best player on the planet at the time, the hero of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph was unstoppable with his finishing, acceleration, and jaw-dropping elasticos.

Ronaldo surpassed 20 goals in each of his first three seasons with Real Madrid. Injuries eventually robbed the world of the greatest talent there has ever been at the 9, but Madridistas were at least able to see the true peak of Ronaldo for those glorious three years. It’s too bad he never got to win the Champions League with the competition’s owners.