Miguel Muñoz is number 17 in 90min's Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next four weeks.

It seems strange that the greatest manager in the history of Real Madrid football club - the biggest and best football club in the history of the sport - is not really very well known outside of Madrid.

Hell, there's not even any pictures of him in Getty's image bank.

Regardless of the majority of his era pre-dating the colour TV, his status in football canon falls well below the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and the other icons of the day.

As a chunky, barrel-chested midfielder with a broad face and shock of dark (even in black and white images) hair, Muñoz spent his early playing years featuring for Celta Vigo and Logroñes in post Civil War Spain of the 1940s before earning a move to his hometown club of Real Madrid.

​​Those were the days before the Galacticos and Muñoz joined a side teasing the relegation zone before the arrival of near-mythical heroes like Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Paco Gento who lifted them to the apex of the sport.

Muñoz dealt well with the rapid rise to the top, scoring Madrid's first-ever goal in Europe in a 2-0 win over Swiss side Servette FC in 1955. It was the first of many notable moments in continental competition for the stocky, engine-room operator.

Career Honours
La Liga (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972)
Copa del Rey (1962, 1970)
European Cup (1960, 1966)
Intercontinental Cup (1960)

He won the newly designed tournament for Europe's best three times on the spin, twice wearing the captain's armband, before retiring in 1958 aged 36.

Real Madrid kept up the domination without him, winning the European Cup for the fourth time straight in 1959. However, manager Luis Carniglia was sacked (in part for leaving Puskas out of the starting lineup in the final) and, after a brief interlude under Manuel Fleitas Solich, back came Muñoz to lead his former teammates from the bench.

With the all-conquering Madrid in danger of being dethroned by up-and-coming rivals Barcelona - much to the dismay of ruling dictator Franco - Muñoz oversaw a 6-2 aggregate win over the Catalans in the European Cup semi-final (Puskas scored three in the two legs) before an astonishing 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 final in front of a stunned audience in Glasgow.

Frankfurt had put Rangers out of the competition in the semis with a 12-4 aggregate score, but were pummelled to dust by Muñoz's ultra attacking fleet, with Puskas bagging four and Di Stefano scoring a hat-trick.

Just think of the memes had that had happened in 2019.

Madrid's fifth in a row was also marked the first time someone had won the tournament as a player and a manager - an achievement later matched only by (bonus points if you can guess without looking) Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cruyff, Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane.

Armed with some of the finest talent of the day, Muñoz recaptured the league title from Barça in 1961 after going on a two-year drought (the horror) and then won it five times on the trot. Letting others have glory was not the Real Madrid way.

However, while the league was all well and good, the standard had been set in Europe and, just as it is over 50 years later, the obsession for Santiago Bernanbeu (then an actual person rather than a stadium) and the other club chiefs was Europe.

In 1961, Madrid went out to Barcelona in the semis (gasp), while 1962 saw Muñoz's attacking entertainers outgunned by a Eusebio-led Benfica in the final. A more conservative approach still saw Los Blancos bested at the final hurdle two years on in Vienna, as Helenio Herrera's Inter out-tacticed (to use a Sam Allardyce-ism) Muñoz and co.

It was four years since Real had won five in a row. That wouldn't do. Di Stefano was among Muñoz's most vocal critics, with the two famously exchanging unpleasantries during the 1964 final defeat.

"Muñoz told me to fuck off and they kicked me out of the club because I told him to fuck off back.” ​Di Stefano recalled as he slunk off to Espanyol at the age of 38.

Being told (mid-game) to fuck off probably wasn't the sendoff one of the greatest footballers of all time player deserved but in a way it was the start of a transition the club needed.

Puskas and Gento stuck around for the transition period but other old heads were bundled off into the sunset. In came exciting talents like Amancio Amaro, Ignacio Zoco and Pirri, who Muñoz helped turn into superstars, proving his worth as a coach rather than just a figurehead for football's Harlem Globetrotters.

Muñoz's youngsters with their long, messy hair and smiles rather than the Brylcreem look and furrowed brows of their predecessors earned them the nickname of the Yé-Yé team - a moniker taken from the chorus of the Beatles song 'She Loves You' (yeah yeah yeah) to refer to their youthful 'hippy' appearance. Think Liverpool's Spice Boys...only better, much much better.

Teams ManagedYears
Plus Ultra​1959-1960
Real Madrid1959-1974
Las Palmas​1977-1979
​Sevilla ​1979-1981

By 1966, Madrid were back in the European Cup final, having exorcised the ghosts of Inter by dumping Herrera's side out 2-1 on aggregate in the semis.

Legend has it that Inter - winners of the previous two finals - ​had booked their team hotel for the final in Brussels before even facing Real, such was the misplaced confidence.

Facing Partizan Belgrade in the final, Madrid went one down but were not to be stopped. This was not the swashbuckling superstar-laden juggernaut of 1960 (although Puskas and Gento were still around) but there was a steel, experience and hurt under the messy fringes of Muñoz's Yé-Yé's that would not come up short again.

Amancio and Fernando Serena scored second-half goals as the reinvented Real Madrid reclaimed the golden years and put themselves back on the top of the European pile, adding to the high of an addiction that future generations at the club would struggle to satiate.

The European Cup and impossible standards are synonymous with Real Madrid. Few people are more responsible for that fact than Miguel Muñoz.

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