Real Madrid are celebrating the 70th birthday of their Santiago Bernabeu home, having officially opened the stadium on 14th December 1947.

Belenenses, Portuguese champions a year earlier in 1946, were the very first visitors to the venue on that day, with Real winning 3-1 to set the standard for the 70 years that have followed.

The first goal was scored by Blancos forward Sabino Barinaga, a player who had joined the club from Southampton in 1939 after earlier leaving Spain for England to escape the civil war.

The Bernabeu is of course named for legendary former Real president Santiago Bernabeu, who was a part of the fabric of the club from the age of 14 as a youth player in 1909 to the day he died in 1978.

Santiago Bernabeu

Bernabeu was first a player for Real, a striker between 1911 and 1927. Upon hanging up his boots, he became a director, then an assistant coach and eventually manager for a brief period.

His greatest influence and legacy stems from his time as president. Bernabeu took up office in 1943 and led his club for the next 35 years. The construction of the iconic stadium that would bear his name from 1955 onward was one of his very first projects.

He is credited with entirely restructuring with the club, which had been left in a bad shape after the Spanish Civil War and was lagging behind the likes of Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.

Santiago Bernabeu

Bernabeu was even one of the founding fathers of the concept of the European Cup, helping to organise an exhibition tournament in 1955 that that soon morphed into the more formal competition that soon became the most coveted club prize in all of Europe.

During his presidency, Real won six European Cups, dominating in those early years by winning the first five titles back-to-back from the competition’s inception. The club also won 16 league titles during his presidency, as well as six Copa del Rey trophies.

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