Luka Modric recently turned 37 and joined an exclusive group of four players to play with Real Madrid Over the age of 36. The Croatian is already the 30+ most capped defensive player to play for Real Madrid and must beat Francisco Puyo to set a record this season.
To celebrate Modric’s ongoing challenge to biology, I thought it would be fun to put together a stellar squad of senior Real Madrid and perhaps give some ideas to the Real Madrid legend picker. Before choosing my team, I had to see who would qualify. Naturally, every player should have played for Real Madrid after the age of thirty. I am also setting a minimum of 100 players to save time and reduce his workload every 30 years in order to appear for Real Madrid.
The final roster finished at 42 players, the biggest being Ferenc Puskas at 39 with Michel at the other end at 32. From that roster I took 35 players that I felt had a realistic chance of starting at 11. Narrowing this 35 down to a line-up was daunting and came down to personal preference in some positions.
Goalkeeper: Francisco Puyo
Real Madrid have an honorary breed of goalkeepers for Cantera, so Puyo’s selection of the site from Seville might come as a bit of a surprise. However, at a staggering 345 appearances in all competitions after the age of 30, it’s hard to ignore Puyo. Compared to his closest competitor (no prizes for who he is), Omar Buyu has fared better. Zamora won at the age of 33 and still holds the record for a Real Madrid goalkeeper in a single season, with 16.
Casillas certainly makes a strong case with his performances in 2011-12, but his career at Real Madrid fell apart after winning the league in 2012 while Puyo continued to go from strength to strength until his final few years at the club. I feel sorry for Iker in this fight because he wasn’t all to blame for his deterioration, but we can’t live as the old saying goes.
Miguel Nogueira played his entire sports career at Real Madrid. A producer from Cantera and promoted to the first team from Castilla, he held the position of right-back for 16 years, retiring at the age of 37.
It’s an ugly legacy. One of the questions that Danny Carvajal has made a fair claim to rescind, though questions about whether he can match Chendo’s longevity still remain well. One way or another, she chooses some of the same positions in teams like this and Chendo was one of them. He’s been consistent until his retirement and his work ethic matches well with some of the other guys I’ve gone with in fifth position.
Central Defence: Sergio Ramos
The first familiar faces will appear in this team. One could say that including Sergio Ramos and those he has played with takes some of the spice out of picking a team like this. I agree, however, that it was important for me to bring in players who were, at least, able to maintain some level they set at their peak and continue to contribute to Real Madrid’s fortunes well into their thirties. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that modern gamers are facing a game that is more physically and tactically challenging than their compatriots last year.
For me, Ramos was one of those players who really improved with his age. It is clear that his late goals during the 2016-2017 season helped achieve the European double this season and his consistency from a penalty kick made Real Madrid win more titles after Ronaldo’s departure.
But Ramos wasn’t just goals, he was a world-class defender with leadership skills that the club is still unable to replace. Ramos’ coolness and the quality of his technical skills covered the cracks in Real Madrid’s playing under pressure, and the defensive errors that marked his early career at the club disappeared long into his thirties. His departure to PSG may have done a lot to his legacy at Real Madrid given how he has struggled with injury since then, but somehow I don’t think I can name a Real Madrid defensive line without Ramos in the squad.
Central Defence: Pepe
This was an intense call between Hierro and Pepe. In terms of appearances and success with the club late in their careers, there is a lot of overlap between the Portuguese defender and the former Real Madrid captain.
In the end, the bias of modernity triumphed for me. I know a lot about Hierro’s career and how difficult it is to replace him after he’s gone, however, I’m a huge fan of Pepe and the player he has become and is at this point in his career. It was a very vital piece in ending the long wait of ten Champions League The title and managed to hold off a really promising player in Varane practically until he left in the summer of 2017.
Central Defence: Perry
One of my all-time favorite legends, Berry’s longevity is rooted in its versatility. He started his club life as a striker in 1964 and declined more slowly, ending his career as a defender. He was a good defender too. Perry already had a fighting streak in his game having twice won Real Madrid’s highest honor for playing through injury and illness.
His technical quality and eye for goal may have inspired two generations of Real Madrid defenders who have done the same since his retirement.
Left-back: Roberto Carlos
I’m proud of my back choices on this team. It brings me a satisfaction of which I am ashamed.
You don’t really need to make an introduction to the Brazilian full-back, his name speaks for itself. I suppose what surprises me about Roberto Carlos is how heavily the club relied on him in the final years of his club career. He never made less than 30 games a season for Real Madrid, a service record that made him the most capped foreign player in Real Madrid’s history (now surpassed by Karim Benzema).
Camacho was the only other contender for Carlos’ place here, but I think Roberto fits this team’s profile well until he gets the nod.
Defensive midfield: Xabi Alonso
In my opinion, it was too late for Alonso to be in Real Madrid’s best squad. There was a time when a starting lineup wouldn’t be complete without him, and again, I’m not sure the position has been properly filled since he left. This would say more about Alonso’s quality than the failures of his successors.
Having joined Los Blancos at a later stage in his career, Alonso played most of Alonso’s career at Madrid in his thirties when he helped propel the club to several notable successes. His performance in the semi-final against Bayern Munich in 2014 is definitely the best for me in addition to the struggle we had the following year. I don’t need to sum up much given the period in which his football career ended recently and I thought he would combine my defense in an attacking midfield very well.
Midfield: Luka Modric
Obviously, Luca will be in this team! I don’t think world football has seen a modern player perform as consistently over two decades as Modric has.
Showing no signs of backing down despite the obvious physical challenges Modric has faced in recent years is somewhat surprising. The defining characteristic of the players I’ve listed in this article so far is that they’ve all been lost since they left, despite their seniority. With Modric’s playing career showing no sign of stopping soon, it’s hard to imagine the impact of his eventual departure. However, given how much Real Madrid have relied on him lately, one can speculate that it will be a challenge for the generations to replace the Croats.
Winger: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo in his early thirties saw him at Real Madrid rediscover himself as a striker and help Real Madrid through one of the most successful periods in their history.
Slimming to maintain his pace, the Portuguese winger transformed himself into a lethal striker while retaining most of the skills that made him a great player to watch. Three consecutive titles in the Champions League, in addition to another title in the League, followed by Ronaldo’s contribution to those successes. It would be impossible to leave him out of this squad despite his leaving at the relatively young age of 32. Juventus.
Winger: Paco Gento
From the generation of the 1950s, Gento has already laid down the challenge of longevity. Ferenc Puskas played games for Real Madrid in 39, however, this was largely in a partial role. On the other hand, Gento was still a competitive force in the starting lineup until his last season with the club.
The winger has propelled over 600 appearances in his career and been the club’s most successful player for over half a century.
Striker: Karim Benzema
Choosing the front position was one of the hardest decisions I had to make for this team. Puskas, the player who played his entire football career at Real Madrid, left after the age of 30, and it was hard to accept. However, I don’t think there is any modernity bias in saying that Benzema deserves this spot.
He has played in an era more physically and tactically more challenging and is a much more complete striker than Puskas ever was while still offering the kind of output that his Hungarian predecessor provided. Nine has really become his number for me and it will be hard to get that association off my mind for some time to come.
I imagine many of you disagree with me on these choices, feel free to share your incorrect answers in the comments to be deleted by your colleagues. That’s how this works right?