First let’s see what is the meaning of Galacticos. Galacticos is a Spanish word and literally it means Galactics, a super star, in English.
In the real world the term “Galacticos” is used for expensive and famous players of Real Madrid. You can learn more about this term on Wikipedia here
Now that Real Madrid has overcome that period which was known as the Galacticos Era, now its time to tell everyone, what was it and why did it happen, where did it happen(well of course it happened in Spain, Madrid) and how it ended.
Galacticos Era started when the President of Real Madrid Florentino Perez started a new policy, under which Real Madrid would buy a super player, which means the best player in the world at the end of every season, no matter how much money it would take.
He did it, to boost Real Madrid as the richest club in the world, to improve Real Madrid’s economic condition and to give the fans what they want to see and that is A Dream team which would consist of, no stars, just superstars, super player’s , more precisely put, only Galacticos.
Then came the time when Real Madrid squad was filled with Galaxy of football stars, worlds best and most marketable attacking players were signed by Real Madrid which not only boosted Real Madrid’s popularity but also improved the quality of football played at the White House, the world was introduced to a new brand of football.
Football, where there were nothing such as defending in numbers, or making rash challenges to get the ball, Real Madrid strategy at that time was, you score 2 goals we score 5 goals.
Real Madrid, at the very best, defended with six players, along with four defenders, makelele ( who was the engine which ran the car known as Galacticos) and one other player from the forwards.
This was the time, every Real Madrid fan, wanted to watch every game that Real Madrid played, because Real Madrid played such neat, easy on the eye and attractive football.
The fans came to watch football and had absolute entertainment of 2 hours and left for home happy, dreaming at night about the football their team showcased.
The Original Galacticos included:
* Luís Figo (£38.7m from FC Barcelona) – joined in 2000
* Zinedine Zidane (£44m from Juventus) – joined in 2001
* Ronaldo (£26m from Inter Milan) – joined in 2002
* David Beckham (£25m from Manchester United) – joined in 2003
* Michael Owen (£8m plus Antonio Núñez from Liverpool F.C.) – joined in 2004 (not really a Galactico in terms of ability, but he was the best forward left who was not playing for Real Madrid at that time, ofcouse there was no C.Ronaldo or Messi at that time, neither had Ronaldinho playing so dominantly as he did a season after that, also Thierry Henry was too monotonous in his play, Owen had variety to his finishing and positioning)
Other players who were eventually considered galacticos:
* Roberto Carlos da Silva
* Iker Casillas (Called, The Saint)
* Raul González
So basically this policy was initially called Zidanes y Pavons, meaning that Real Madrid would buy world’s best footballers and also promote their youth system players (which never happened by the way).
Initially, the policy paid off, when Real Madrid won 2 league titles and 1 Champions League title (Zidane and Figo were on that squad), Ronaldo‘s form at Real Madrid lead him to win player of the year award too. Zidane was unleashing his talent on the football world, scoring impossible goals.
Ronaldo was scoring like a machine from every opportunities, beating whole teams by himself. Then there was Figo on the right flank, who could strip any defender in the world with his dribbling skills.
This was the golden age, Roberto Carlos was scoring 30 40 yard screamer regularly, even if his shots did not go in, still they looked magnificent.
Roberto Carlos never wanted to beat the goal keeper whenever he tried to score, he always wanted to destroy the keeper to score a goal. Makelele showcased, why he was the best defensive midfielder in the world.
Every Real Madrid forward wanted to take on players, beat teams up, do the little 1-2 moves. Every team that came to Bernabeau was treated with goals, for and against. Every team had to bow infront of the Madrid master class (not every team, but most of the teams including Manchester United).
With Figo and Zidane in the Real Madrid’s engine room, it was not difficult to understand why Real Madrid made so many chances and scored so many goals.
Then came another superstar, David Beckham, who set the Bernabeau on light with his booming pint point crosses and his bending free kicks, it was a thing of joy to see Real Madrid at that time.
But then suddenly, there were too many egos of the The Galacticos in the dressing room of Real Madrid, Vicente Del Bosque (coach of Real Madrid at that time) was able to control that for a period of time, but to have some tactical play as well, he had to drop some big name players.
Of course, players like Zidane and Figo would never like to sit on the bench, so it was very difficult for the coach to come up with a strategy because you know these legends, they always have a bad attitude problem, one Maradonna said “you cannot be the best player and a saint together”, now I understand what he really meant.
Zidane and Figo considered themselves to be too big, and did not listen to the coach.
Anyway, Real Madrid continued to buy attacking, attractive players who had little defensive abilities which lead to a weak backbone of Real Madrid Galacticos. Real Madrid did sign Beckham in 2003 but lost Ronaldinho to Barcelona saying that Ronaldinho’s face would sink them as a brand.
One interesting that also happened (which eventually lead to the destruction of the team) was that Perez was not prepared to pay defensive players high salaries and when Makelele along with some teammates demanded that, Perez (to stamp his authority) showed them the door, the coach Del Bosque was also sacked.
One very important thing to note is that, the arrival of Beckham and departure of Makelele to Chelsea started the, trophy less years of Real Madrid and Trophy filled years of Chelsea, hmmm, not so strange when you consider that Real Madrid sold the world’s best defensive player just because he wanted an improved contract.
The quality of Makelele’s role and his pureness about it can be judged from the fact that, football named a position in his name, which now a days, we know as “The Makalele role“
Zidane said afterward that Beckham is the gold plating on a car, but what good a car is if it’s engine is sold (referring to Makalele’s departure).
The beautiful game was gone now and the team looked like a bunch of talented players.
All trying to impose their ideas on the pitch, at one time Zidane would not make a pass to Figo and Figo would also do the same which, in the end, cost Real Madrid a lot.
After the sacking of Del Bosque, Real Madrid could not play as a footballing unit, like it used to, although Real Madrid still had the best attacking players in the world, still Real Madrid lacked defensive qualities where many times David Beckham was played as a defensive midfielder.
The signing of David Beckham was also stupid because of another reason, which I told my friends too when I heard of the signing, the reason was that Real Madrid already had the best right winger in the world, Luis Figo, so signing of players like these meant that all the galacticos could not be put into a single team sheet.
Which lead to many frustrations, eventually Figo left the club to join Inter Milan after he was not given a two years contract by Real Madrid which he wanted.
Owen also left in the same season (2004-2005), while Real Madrid had their troubles, the man they rejected because of his face, Ronaldinho, drove Barcelona to title victories, Ronaldinho who lead the resurgence of Barcelona to two straight league titles and a Champions League Title as well.
Sameul Eto (another surprise) was a Real Madrid player, but Perez sold him to Mallorca, who sold Eto to Barcelona where he would go on and become the top striker in the world, Perez argument was that Real Madrid already has Ronaldo and Raul as its strikers, the same reason he gave for not signing Ronaldinho, saying that Real Madrid already has Zidane in that position.
I think Florentino Perez was a stupid guy and a smart guy. Let me explain. He was a stupid guy because he did not know how to form a balanced team with attack and defense, he signed players because of their market value not on merit or on their footballing performances.
He was a smart guy because he knew how to increase Real Madrid fortunes, he sold some land and bought super players and made money for Real Madrid ( I intentionally have put it in this simple way).
Eventually he also realized that, the galactico policy was not paying off and after throwing the club into a turmoil, he stepped down as the president because of the decline in the team’s on-field performance seemingly hitting an all time low in the 2005-2006 season, exiting in the UEFA Champions League to Arsenal F.C. in the round of 16 without scoring a goal in either leg.
Perez stepped down, Zidane retired in 2005-2006, shortly after Beckham and Ronaldo left in the same season i.e 2006-2007 season, both on bad terms with Real Madrid.
This was the end of the Era which gave all Real Madrid many great moments and some bad moments, all in all, it put Real Madrid on the map of top European Club’s in the world (which it was even before this policy, but now it’s authority was official). Let us now look at a quick glance to why Real
Madrid bought the “ORIGINAL GALACTICOS” Zidane: Do I even have to write about this guy, probably the greatest midfielder of all time, certainly one of the greatest players of all time, no doubt, he was the silent general, no words just pure raw action. Why he was signed, well:
- Had the greatest first touch of all time
- Had great vision, could pick out any run, any pass anywhere
- Had great shooting ability with both feet
- Had composure and self belief (probably the reason why he played with so much finesse)
- Of course all the money he brought with him in the shape of fan following, sponsors and merchandise sale
- Just had everything you could possibly want from a midfielder, his speed was not like Ronaldo’s though
Makelele once said that “when we did not know what to do with the ball, we just gave it to Zidane, he would always work something out”
Figo : He was also , almost a complete player like Zidane, the only reason why Figo did not win the Player of the Year award three times or more was because he was unlucky enough to have Zidane in his time, who took all the awards leaving only second places for Figo. Figo had:
- Great touch on the ball
- Tantalizing dribbling skills
- Pin point crosses
- Not renowned for his speed, but he was never slow
- Was two footed, had great shooting ability
- Could also take freaking free kicks (his free kicks curved the most, more than Beckham’s)
- Also had great vision and understanding of the game
- His ability to work in tight situation, with no space to work with was amazing as well
- Of course the money he brought with him in the shape of Merchandise sales and sponsors
Ronaldo: Many call him the greatest striker to have played the game, came to Real Madrid with his huge reputation of scoring picture perfect goals and he lived up to it, treated the fans with his amazing sprints and solo goals. He was at Real Madrid because:
- He had great speed, fastest player on the planet
- Great skill
- Great ball control
- Ability to take on players after players
- His finishing was unmatchable
- His feet movement was unchallenged
- His acceleration is still one of the fastest
- His stamina and composure when making those solo runs
- Always knew what the defender was thinking
- Of course the money he brought with him in the shape of Merchandise sales and sponsors
David Beckham: As the name suggests, he was the most known and marketable player on the planet, not necessarily was the best player in the world in terms of ability at any point in his career but was very entertaining because:
- He had that never die attitude, always had that work ethic
- Had the best crosses in the world, sometimes they were called bananas, the way they swung
- Had great looks (yeah, this also counts, not that Zidane, Figo and Ronaldo were ugly but just that Beckham was handsome)
- Looked like a Robin Hood, had that pony and those devastating free kicks and long passes (resembled an archer, with a bow (his feet) and arrows (the ball)
- Of course the money that brought with him for reasons specified before.
NEO GALACTICOS ERA:
Florentino Perez came back to Real Madrid 2 years ago and he came back with a bang after some time off contemplating about his decisions in his previous reign as Real Madrid’s president.
Well, he did not disappoint anyone and shocked the transfer market and the world with the signings of C.Ronaldo, Kaka , Benzema and Xabi Alonso in the same season.
All four of these players are the best at their positions and to picture them in one team you only had FIFA 11 on the pc to look at. But this was the reality at Real Madrid.
After these signings, people thought that Real Madrid were going to outclass every opposition on the continent except Barcelona. And how true that turned out to be as Barcelona denied Real Madrid a possible treble this season.
The signings made by Perez this time around were similar in nature to the ones he made when he first arrived. He bought Ronaldo for 80 million pounds which made him the most expensive player in the history of football.
Shortly before Ronaldo became the most expensive player in the world, Kaka became the most expensive player in the world for about 2 days when Real Madrid signed him from AC Milan for 65 million euros. Fast forward some two days later and Real Madrid signed the hottest young striker on the planet and that was Karim Benzema with some 40 million euro cash.
And amidst all this chaos of huge signings and with people blaming Real Madrid for blowing up the transfer market and introducing inflation in the players market value, Real Madrid also signed Xabi Alonso, possibly the best long passer of the game and dead ball specialist after David Beckham.
Florentino Perez had a business plan to recuperate all the money he had spent on these players through marketing. And he did, Ronaldo sold over 100 million euros worth of shirts for Real Madrid in his first week as a Real Madrid player and some good figures were posted by Kaka and Benzema as well.
I do not know about you guys but I certainly did not think that Real Madrid would win anything the first season Perez came because he made a massive overhaul of the whole squad and that messed up the team chemistry for Real Madrid.
Anyway, I was happy to see some real talent on the pitch for Real Madrid after a long long time. Lets take a look at the 4 star players that Perez signed.
Well what should I say about this guy. Just that he is the best player on the planet and he is the most complete attacking player I have ever seen. If he keeps on improving the way he is currently improving, I think there will come a day that he will be remembered alongside names like Ronaldo, Figo Zidane.
This guy is just so perfect. His attributes are
- Great speed
- Great skill
- great strength
- great header
- great shoot
- great free kick
- great left foot
- great dribbling
- great head for the game
- great vision
- Exemplary leadership skills
- great finish on his right foot
With Ronaldo in our team, I think it was a given before every match that Real Madrid were going to score goals or at the least create a hell loads of chances.
Ronaldo scored 33 goals in 35 games in his first season with Real Madrid. In his second season with Real Madrid he scored 54 goals in 54 games which was an all time record.
He scored 40 goals in 38 games in La Liga, an all time top. C.Ronaldo showcased some brilliant individual skills in his early days with Real Madrid.
After Mourinho came to Real Madrid he got much more disciplined and played with much more purpose than before. 2nd galactico was Ricardo Kaka, the wondrous Brazillian.
I know it might sound a bit too common now but Kaka is another one of those players who perfect the position they play in. Apart from his fitness problems, I think he has been a great signing for Real Madrid.
In the few games he played with Real Madrid in his first two season with Real Madrid (he had to sit out long periods of time because he got injured) he showcased his quality with authority.
He scored beautiful goals and provided clever assists. He was much more robust and effective than Xavi,who Barcelona fans think is the best in his position but I think Kaka would play even better than him in that position. His qualities are:
- great speed
- great dribbling
- great shooting
- great head for the game
- great passing
- great vision for the game
The only problem with Kaka was his fitness problem due to which he could not live up to his price tag. 3rd one was Benzema, the youngest of these fantastic 4:
Neither Pelligrini or Mourinho trusted the young lad early on in their reigns as managers of Real Madrid but Benzema kept on pushing and fighting to get a starting place in this star studded line up of Real Madrid.
He scored quite a few goals in the handful of games that he played for Real Madrid and if I am not mistaken, he scored like 28 goals in his second season for Real Madrid and that is a great achievement given that Mourinho basically used him as a sub throughout the whole of the season.
But benz did not loose hope and kept on working hard on his already well established game and may be that is the reason why Mourinho was so hard on Benzema.
May be it was because he had seen the true reserves of untapped potential in Benzema. Benzema did not disappoint Mourinho but lets just keep it at that. His main attributes are:
- Great position skills as a center forward
- great left foot
- good shoot on the ball
- good dribbling skills
- great speed
- can head the ball and can take tough challenges of opponent’s defenders as well
4rth big signing was of Xabi Alonso.
Not exactly a galactico in terms of his marketability but in terms of his skills on the ball, I think he deserved to be one of those people who shared the same locker room as Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema.
His arrival at Real Madrid was a quite one and since them he has been performing for Real Madrid in the midfield to good levels. His main attributes are:
- Great range of passing
- great ball control
- great first touch on the ball
- dead ball specialist
- good head on his shoulders
- good work ethic
- Solid engine
- can play as a defensive midfielder as well
- team player.
So these were the main signings that Perez made in his second stint as Real Madrid’s president. Who knows what else has got in store for us but so far the journey has been a reasonable one.
I have not even listed the star players that were already on Real Madrid’s roster before these people came in. People like Higuain, Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Diarra and co.
Even after their arrival. During the Mourinho era, the signings of Angel DI Maria, Mesut Oezil and Sami Khedira were vital ones as they became the integral part of a formidable team that was formed by Jose Mourinho. A team that could win titles and not just play pretty football. Team Galacticos!