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. You can find Andrew Headspeath’s Muñoz career overview here.
In the history of the best club there has ever been, Miguel Muñoz is quite probably Real Madrid’s best ever manager.
The former European Cup-winning player navigated what should have been a perilous transitional period to transform the ageing Galacticos of Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano into the youthful Ye-Ye’s (named after the Beatles chorus in She Loves You) of Amancio and Pirri, while keeping them at the very apex of Spanish and world football.
Here we continue 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Managers of All Time series, with an XI of Muñoz’s greatest ever players.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Andoni Zubizarreta – Compared with the rest in this lineup, Zubi played precious little under Muñoz and was a Barcelona icon rather than a Real Madrid one but he was given his international debut by the Los Blancos legend. The keeper won his first Spain cap in 1985 under Muñoz and went on to make a record 125 appearances for La Roja, representing his country at four World Cups.
Marquitos – The grandfather of Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso, Marquitos was one of the greats for Madrid and a key figure as they monopolised the early days of the European Cup. The full back made over 150 appearances for Los Merengues in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly as Muñoz’s teammate, and scored one of his two goals in the 1956 European Cup win.
Pachin – A key player in bridging the transition between one generation and another, the versatile Pachin won the European Cup in his first season at Real Madrid in 1960 and again six years later as part of Muñoz’s famous Ye-Ye team. The full back later rejected offers to move to Italy calling Real Madrid ‘the greatest thing that can happen to a footballer’.
Andoni Goikoetxea – With nicknames like ‘the Butcher of Bilbao’ and ‘the Giant of Alonsotegui’, it’s not much of a surprise that Goikoetxea was a notoriously uncompromising centre back. Frequently cited as one of the hardest players of all time, his brutal tackle on Diego Maradona broke the Argentine superstar’s ankle in a league game in 1983. Nevertheless, the defender was an intimidating presence, to say the least, and an important part of Muñoz’s Spain side that reached the Euro 1984 final.
Jose Santamaria – A hugely successful centre back in his native Uruguay before moving to Real Madrid in 1957, Santamaria earned the nickname ‘the Wall’ for his defensive acumen. In nine years in Spain, he won six league titles (including five in a row) and four European Cups among other awards. Although a generation too late for Uruguay’s World Cup successes, he did make the FIFA All-Star Team in 1954 as La Celeste came fourth.
Pirri – Signed as a teenager from Granada for the princely sum of 200,000 pesetas (around €1,000 in today’s money), boy was he worth the money. With his youthful look and long hair, Pirri was another cornerstone of Muñoz’s Ye-Ye team. However, the midfielder also became known as something of a hard man, often playing through serious injury. He finished his career a 10-time La Liga winner and lifted the 1966 European Cup.
Jose Maria Zarraga – One of the old guard who played alongside Muñoz as well as under him, Zarraga was one of precious few to win five straight European Cups and play in all the finals. The Basque midfielder spent almost all his career at Madrid, retiring in 1962 with a trophy haul that also included six league titles and the first-ever Intercontinental Cup in 1960.
Paco Gento – Forget Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Paolo Maldini, no man has won more European Cups than Francisco Gento Lopez with six. The outside left (a winger in today’s parlance) played alongside Muñoz as Madrid dominated Europe in the 1950s before captaining the Ye-Ye‘s as an old head in a transitional period. He is a 12-time La Liga winner and played in eight European Cup finals.
Amancio Amaro – Nicknamed El Brujo (the Wizard), Amancio was a key signing for Muñoz and Real Madrid as the transitioned away from the old guard. The former Deportivo La Coruña winger-cum-striker won nine Spanish league titles and scored the equaliser as Madrid went on to win the 1966 European Cup final against Partizan Belgrade. He later managed Los Blancos and is credited with discovering the legendary ‘Vulture Squad’ of the eighties, led by Emilio Butragueño.
Alfredo Di Stefano – Quite possibly the best player Real Madrid have ever had, Muñoz famously said having Di Stefano was like having two players in every position. The Argentine eventually fell out with his manager and former teammate, but his 308 goals in 396 appearances, five Pichichi trophies, eight league titles and five consecutive European Cups can’t be overlooked.
Ferenc Puskas – One of the finest goalscorers in the history of the game, ‘the Galloping Major’ was a four-time Pichichi winner at Real Madrid, while he also top-scored twice in the European Cup and has a record of seven goals in two finals. With 514 career goals, the Hungarian netted so many times that he even has his own FIFA prize named after him – the Puskas Trophy, for the year’s best goal.
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