In a poll held by FIFA in 2000, Real Madrid was elected as the best club of the 20th century and for many good reasons. No other club has ever won the European Cup 5 consecutive times like Real Madrid did in the late 1950s with some legendary squads. Looking at the current squad of the club featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema, Luka Modrić and Sergio Ramos one gets the feeling that the club is high geared towards reproducing that remarkable achievement. Real Madrid's history is paved with a long tradition of trophy wins. With 11 European cups (4 of them during the Champions League era), 2 UEFA cups, 3 European Super Cups, 3 intercontinental cups, 33 national championships and 19 Copa Del Rey national cups, Real Madrid is one of the most decorated clubs in the history of football.
The Padros brothers, Juan and Carlos officially established the club in 1902. In the early days they offered the mayor of Madrid to arrange a football tournament in the honors of king Alfonso Xlll's coronation. This was the beginning of the tournament Copa De El Rey, which was practically, until the establishment of La Liga in 1929, the national championship of Spain. This was also the beginning of the club's affiliation with the royal family that granted the name Real (royal) to the club in 1920.
Out of the superb football players that have played for the club, two stand out most as iconic symbols. The first one is Santiago Bernabeu who played for the club between 1911- 1928. In his years as a manager and as a president after the civil war and until his death in 1978 he led Real Madrid to its position as one of the best football clubs in the world. Acknowledging his achievements the General Assembly of Members honored him by naming the club's stadium after his name in 1955. The second iconic symbol that stands out is Alfredo Di Stefano. Considered by many as one of the greatest players in the history of football. It was under his leadership that Real Madrid won the European Cup 5 consecutive times (1956-1960).
Mentioning all the football stars that have played for the club would be an impossible thing to do. Of more recent decades the outstanding names are Juanito, Emilio Butragueño, Santillana and Hugo Sanches of the 1970s and 1980s squads. Raul, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Martin Hierro, Ronaldo (the Brazilian), Luis Figo and David Beckham are the prominent names of the 1990s and 2000s squads.
Raul, who played for the club between 1994 and 2010 holds the records of number of appearances (741). The top goal scorer is Christiano Ronaldo with 404 goals, 285 La Liga goals.
The biggest rivals of Real Madrid are Atletico Madrid (This match is called El Derbi madrileño) and Barcelona (El Clasico). Each game between Real and these clubs is assured to have an electrifying atmosphere.
Real Madrid's stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu is one of the finest shrines of football. With a current capacity of 81,044 seats.
Real Madrid holds the record with 12 Champions League titles and 33 La Liga titles.
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