90min
Real Madrid

Real Madrid's 10 greatest players of all time

Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest player of all time and he won no less than five Ballons d'Or.
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest player of all time and he won no less than five Ballons d'Or. / ISABELLA BONOTTO/GettyImages
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Real Madrid have been blessed with some of the greatest players ever to don a pair of football boots. So as you can imagine, picking their best ever top ten was no easy task.

Los Blancos have won the European Cup a record 13 times, are one of the most decorated football clubs on the planet and were even named as FIFA's team of the century. 

So you can only start to imagine the number of stars who have passed through the doors of the Santiago Bernabéu over the years.

It means there are a few noticeable absentees from the shortlist, so before we get underway, time for some honourable mentions:

Iker Casillas, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Luís Figo, Emilio Butragueño, Ronaldo Názario, Kaká, Guti, David Beckham, Xabi Alonso, Fabio Cannavaro, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Marcelo, Peđa Mijatović, Manuel Sanchís, Ivan Zamorano, Paco Buyo, Fernando Redondo & Pirri.

Right, now with those out of the way, let's crack on with the top 10.


10. Fernando Hierro

Fernando Hierro of Real Madrid
Fernando Hierro was captain for Los Blancos and a real rock at the heart of Real's defence / Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Legendary Real Madrid skipper Hierro was a rock at the back for over a decade in the Spanish capital and played over 600 times for the club.

Arguably, his finest moment came in the 1998 Champions League final, where Hierro silenced Juventus' Alessandro Del Piero for the entire game as Real ran out 1-0 winners.

Hierro would lead his side to two more European titles during his time at the Bernabéu, but perhaps more impressive were the 147 goals that he accumulated from defence - not bad going for an old-fashioned centre half.


9. Francisco Gento

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This man won quite a few trophies / -/Getty Images

Gento, affectionately known as Paco, was a serial winner and the legendary number 11 became one of Real's most decorated players. 

He featured in eight European finals, over three decades, for Los Blancos and was on the victorious side on six occasions - and is still the only player to ever win six European Cups. 

But Paco's achievements don't stop there. His trophy cabinet must be practically bursting as he claimed no less than 12 La Liga titles with the great 1950s and 1960s Madrid sides.


8. Raymond Kopa

Kopa became the first-ever Frenchman to be crowned European champion when he played in Madrid's 2-0 victory over Fiorentina in 1957, shortly after he received the Ballon d'Or.

The triumph over the Italians was the first of three consecutive European titles that Kopa would go on to win during his short yet successful three-year stint with Madrid.

'Little Napoleon', as he was christened by renowned Madrid-based publication Marca, struck up a great partnership with Ferenc Puksás in attack and scored 24 goals in 79 games from the number 10 role.


7. Luka Modric

Luka Modric
Modric has become a mainstay of the Real Madrid side in recent years / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Another Ballon d'Or winner, Modrić received the accolade in 2018, the same year that he completed his own hat-trick of consecutive European successes with Madrid.

The diminutive Croatian has been Real's creative cog in midfield since 2012 and has established himself as an artisan on the world stage.

Perhaps surprising he has only one La Liga title to his name, but his four Champions League triumphs make up for it - and he will be remembered as a modern-day great in the Spanish capital.


6. Sergio Ramos

Real Madrid v Atalanta - UEFA Champions League
Ramos has now gone to PSG, but he's certainly not forgotten / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ramos has ripped up the manual when it comes to the blueprint of a stereotypical centre-half, redefining the role since he moved to the Bernabéu from Sevilla in 2005.

Real's now former charismatic leader scored in every one of his 16 seasons with the club and his 101 goals for Madrid have coincided with five La Ligatriumphs and four Champions League winners medals.

The defender is a natural-born winner and definitely wears his heart on his sleeve - perhaps demonstrated by his record of being the most carded player in Spanish history.


5. Raul

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Raúl became synonymous for kissing his finger in celebration and the Spaniard scored over 300 times for Madrid during his career / CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images

Raúl was unquestionably the greatest goal scorer to ever don the white of Madrid, until a certain Cristiano Ronaldo came along (more about him later). 

But even so, the Spaniard is still revered as one of the greatest ever to play for Los Blancos, and his signature kissing of the finger celebration was seen on no less than 323 occasions.

A Real icon, he was an inspirational captain, a shining example to anyone who took to the field and his goalscoring feats were rewarded with six La Liga titles and three European Cups. He also holds the record number of appearances for the club, featuring a staggering 741 times.


4. Hugo Sanchez

A Mexican striker widely known as a showman, with a forward with a penchant for the spectacular, Hugo Sanchez was something else.

Sánchez's afro was eye-catching enough but he endeared himself to the Real faithful with his acrobatic volleys and exuberant goal celebrations. The forward is one of the most prolific to ever grace the hallowed turf of the Bernabéu and bagged 208 goals in 282 matches in an era which saw him win five Spanish league titles.

Staggeringly, some view him as underrated - which is mad when you watch some of his highlight reels.


3. Alfredo di Stefano

“People argue between Pele or Maradona. Di Stéfano is the best, much more complete.” - Pele.

The most complete footballer in the history of the game.” - Eusebio.

High praise indeed. Di Stéfano truly is regarded as one of football's greatest ever players and is the only ever recipient of the Super Ballon d'Or, which was awarded to him in 1989.

The Blonde Arrow won five consecutive European titles during the 1950s with Madrid, scoring in each, en route to earning two Ballon d'Or trophies.

He is Madrid's joint highest ever goalscorer in El Clasico alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, notching 17 goals against Barcelona and in his 11 years with Los Blancos, he was an eight time La Liga winner.


2. Ferenc Puskas

Ferenc Puskas
Puskás took everyone by surprise when he arrived at the club and went on to be one of Madrid's greatest ever players / Central Press/Getty Images

'Pancho' has been dubbed the best-left foot to ever play in the famous white shirt (sorry, Gareth Bale) and the Hungarian would often dazzle madrileños with his silky skills.

Incredibly he arrived in the Spanish capital at 31 years old but showed that age was simply a number as he racked up startling figures of his own - 242 goals in 262 games.

The portly striker's extraordinary goalscoring touch helped Madrid to three European crowns and five La Liga titles. Such was his knack for finding the back of the net, FIFA posthumously named their best goal of the year award after the hot-shot Hungarian in 2017.


1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed unprecedented levels of success during his time with Madrid, securing no less than 5 Ballon d'Or awards / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo to rounds things off?

In spite of the true greats that have represented Real, CR7 stands head and shoulders above them all - with his five Ballon d'Or wins good reason for it.

The man is simply not human. He scored more goals than games that he played for Madrid, an astonishing 451 strikes in 438 games.

He broke every goalscoring record imaginable and although the Ronaldo vs Messi dispute will rage on for eternity, there is no arguing that the Portuguese is numero one when it comes to Real Madrid.


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