Real Madrid have demanded higher standards of their players than any other club throughout the course of their history. The most valuable sports team in the world and the highest-earning, Real are often considered the most supported club in world football. They are by far the most successful team in Spain and the most decorated team in the world. Real have won 32 La Liga titles and 10 European Cup/Champions Leagues – both of which are records – as well as 38 various other titles.
Real supporters are notoriously demanding. Players often get little time to impress, and as such, few survive more than a couple of seasons at the Bernabeu unless they are genuinely quality players capable, mentally and physically, of playing for the biggest club in the world. Let us not forget, these are a group of supporters who have only recently booed the likes of Kaka, Gareth Bale, and most astonishingly, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The lowest Real Madrid have ever finished in La Liga is 11th, and they have only finished outside the top-4 12 times in their 113-year history. As such, Real have had consistently held incredibly high standards, and few genuinely ‘bad’ players have ever featured for the club. Now, having said that, we now explore the most notable exceptions to that rule. Here are the top 15 worst players in Real Madrid history:
15. Flavio Conceicao
Having won six titles in four years at Real Madrid and having won 44 caps for Brazil, the stats suggest Flavio Conceicao has no place on this list. The truth of the matter is that the Brazilian’s time at Real was incredibly poor. He may have been on the club’s books for four years, but he played less than 50 league games in that time. Conceicao made a big-money move to the Bernabeu after impressing with Deportivo la Coruna, but failed to impress, being loaned out and after leaving the club his career petered out with short spells in Turkey and Greece before an early retirement at the age of 32.
14. Thomas Gravesen
The logic behind Real’s move for Thomas Gravesen is difficult to put one’s figure on. A solid but not spectacular midfield enforcer at Everton, Gravesen joined Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate in arriving in Madrid from the Premier League in the summer of 2005. Whilst Owen and Woodgate both struggled with injuries, Gravesen just plainly was not good enough. The Dane soon fell out with boss Fabio Capello and headed to Celtic after just a single season in Spain.
13. Albano Bizzarri
From Ricardo Zamora to Iker Casillas, Los Blancos fans are used to having a safe, and quite often superb goalkeeper between the sticks. Albano Bizzarri did not match that description during his single season in the capital. Signed from Racing Club, Bizzarri’s arrival co-incided with the emergence of an 18-year-old Iker Casillas. In Bizzarri’s seven starts he earned a great deal of criticism, and he was quickly shipped out to Valladolid, where he became a first team regular for six years. Now aged 37, Bizzarri currently plays for Chievo in Serie A, and has never won a cap for Argentina.
Chendo is very much the odd one out on this list. Not only did he have a long and successful career at Real Madrid, but he was also a regular first team player throughout much of this time. A product of the club academy, Chendo went on to play 497 games for Real in all competition, winning seven La Liga titles and one Champions League. His inclusion then seems laughable, but in terms of natural ability, Chendo should never have been a Real Madrid regular. He was hard working and industrious, but so is James Milner, and there’d be a few raised eyebrows if Rafa Benitez made a move for him next summer.
11. Ivan Campo
A tough-tackling holding midfielder, also capable of playing in defense, Ivan Campo was actually technically not a bad player. He was capable of making good, strong challenges, as well as being capable of passing a ball accurately. The mental aspect of his game though, meant he was always destined for failure at a huge club like Real. Mistakes and poor judgement saw him lambasted by supporters, and after 5 years and 60 league games, Campo joined Bolton Wanderers, later playing for Ipswich and AEK.
10. Fernando Sanz
Real Madrid had some real problems in defense in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and few encapsulate that better than Fernando Sanz. Madrid-born and a product of the club’s own youth academy, the Los Blancos faithful would have loved to see Sanz succeed. The fact was though, that his name on the team sheet filled supporters with dread. The son of Real president Lorenzo Sanz, his place in the squad was often considered not to be on merit. He left after 35 games, spending the rest of his career at Malaga, eventually retiring in 2006.
9. Julien Faubert
In arguably the most bizarre transfer move in football history, Julien Faubert joined Real Madrid on a half-season loan from West Ham. Faubert wasn’t even considered to be one of the star players of the West Ham team, and certainly looked out of place in Madrid. The move was as underwhelming as everyone expected. In six months, Faubert played two games, and the highlights of his loan were a missed training session and when he was pictured asleep on the bench during a game. Surprisingly, Real didn’t take West Ham up on the clause to make the deal permanent, and Faubert last played for Bordeaux’s reserves.
8. Dejan Petkovic
Nicknamed ‘Rambo’, Dejan Petkovic joined Real Madrid from Red Star Belgrade back in 1995. The attacking midfielder had become a star in Serbia (then Yugoslavia), but as is so often the case at Real, he was never really given a chance at Real. After just a handful of games he was shipped out on-loan twice, having failed to impress. Petkovic went on to play for seven different clubs in Brazil, but never really proved Real wrong, and won only 8 caps for Yugoslavia.
7. Francisco Villarroya
A decent left midfielder for mid-lower La Liga sides, Francisco Villarroya should never really have been a Real Madrid player. He had impressed with Zaragoza, but looked out of his depth at the Bernabeu, with the exception of his debut season. He was used largely as a utility player, playing more games at left-back – where the club was distinctly short of options – than his preferred position in midfield. The arrival of Roberto Carlos spelt the end for Villarroya, who left after 83 games, and went back to playing for more modest teams in Spain, retiring after a spell with second division Badajoz.
6. Jaime Sanchez Fernandez
Born in Madrid, Jaime Sanchez Fernandez (better known simply as ‘Jaime’), joined Real Madrid from Madrid-based minnows Alcala. He played regularly for both Real’s C and B teams, but never looked competent stepping up to the first team. Jaime played 45 games for the club, most notably coming on as an 82nd minute substitute in Real’s 1998 Champions League final win over Juventus. After leaving Real, Jaime failed to even secure a regular first team spot in a La Liga side, eventually dropping into the Segunda Division and retiring in 2006.
5. Carlos Secretario
A man who won 18 titles with Porto and three with Real Madrid, as well as winning 35 caps for Portugal and finishing 3rd in a European Championship’s sounds like a fairly decent player, and Carlos Secretario was, except for when he played in a Los Blancos shirt. His time at the Bernabeu was eminently forgettable. He was considered a liability and replaced by Christian Panucci in the same transfer window he had been signed. In 13 games for Real, Secretario is best remembered for catching a rabbit which had found its way onto the pitch. This was largely considered as the highlight of his time in Madrid, which speaks volumes about his regard at the club.
4. Perica Ognjenovic
Another Yugoslavian who had a tough time at Real is Perica Ognjenovic. Like Petkovic, Ognjenovic arrived from Red Star Belgrade. His move seemed a little unusual, given that he hadn’t really set the world alight with Red Star, scoring just 19 goals in 78 games and having failed to score in his 8 caps for Yugoslavia. His time in Madrid was a disaster. He made just 30 appearances for the club, only 12 in the league, and most from the bench, failing to score a single La Liga goal.
He couldn’t even win a cap for his country after joining the Spanish giants, and went on to become a journeyman, playing in China, France, Malaysia, Greece and Serbia. Despite this drop in quality, Ognjenovic ended his career with a total of only 37 career goals. To compound matters for Real, they sold a 17-year-old Samuel Eto’o to make way for the Serb, with Eto’o going on to become a legend for bitter rivals Barcelona.
3. Edwin Congo
Having become an emerging star in his native Colombia, scoring 30 goals in 110 games, and winning his first international cap, a 23-year-old Edwin Congo was snapped up by Real Madrid. He spent three years with Los Blancos, but was loaned out for almost the entirety of those years. He failed to make a single La Liga appearance, playing only a handful of non-distinct cup games, in which he failed to score. He went on to have unimpressive spells with the likes of Levante and Sporting Gijon, and scored just three goals in 17 caps for Colombia. Congo must go down as one of Real’s least gifted players of all time.
2. Royston Drenthe
The emergence and decline of Royston Drenthe is quite incredible really. There was no horrible injury, no attitude problem and no drug scandal, yet he went from one of the hottest prospects in world football to one of Real’s worst ever players in rapid succession. He burst onto the scene with Feyenoord and became a superstar with Holland’s under-21s at the U21 Euros in 2007, where he won player of the tournament. Europe’s elite were on his trail and arguably the greatest of the lot snapped him up, Real Madrid. Still just 20, Drenthe was given a taste of first team football.
After five years at Real, and now in his mid-20s, Drenthe seemed to have regressed as a footballer. La Liga and Premier League loan moves had both ended in failure and he had scored only four goals and made only four assists in 65 games for Real. Time in the English and Turkish second tiers was equally unimpressive and Drenthe now plays in Abu Dhabi, in the Arabian Gulf League for Baniyas Club.
1. Predrag Spasic
Quite simply the worst player in Real Madrid history, the name Predrag Spasic will still give Real Madrid fans nightmares. Yet another Yugoslavian, Spasic joined Real in 1990, this time from Partizan. Already a Yugoslavian international and World Cup quarter-finalist, it was hoped Spasic would add some steel and fortitude to the Real Madrid defense. He did anything but. The center-back was a calamity, not only did he look a liability in defense, he also scored a spectacular own-goal against Barcelona in the El Classico derby.
It takes a lot to come back from that, and Spasic didn’t have what it t0ok. He spent just a single season with Real, playing 22 league games and being largely hated by his own supporters for much of that time. He remained in La Liga after his Real departure, playing for Osasuna and Marbella, before returning to Serbia. He failed to win another cap for his country after the disastrous move, despite being a first team regular prior to it.
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