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REAL MADRID

'Air' Ramos emulates Pirri with dunk shot 45 years on

Zidane has reintroduced a training ground favourite last used in the 1970s – mini-basketball games once a week.

'Air' Ramos emulates Pirri with dunk shot 45 years on

Real Madrid’s players are delighted with Zidane and enjoying the daily workouts in Valdebebas more than ever. Yesterday, the coach reintroduced a training ground favourite - one last used in the 1970s and fondly remembered by the likes of Pirri, Amancio, García Remón and company. In his book Memorias en Blanco y Negro AS Editor Alfredo Relaño recalled the mini-basketball matches which Madrid’s players would regularly stage on a small plot of land next to the Bernabéu which is now occupied by La Esquina restaurant. During the biting-cold Madrid winters, the players would stage their basketball games a few hundred metres up the Castellana in the warmth of the old Ciudad Deportiva.

Amancio 'in the paint' in the early 70s

In the early 70s, Madrid’s training schedule was usually Mondays – rest, Tuesday – water therapy and massage, Wednesdays – physical preparation, Thursdays – mini-match against the reserves or youth team and Fridays – basketball before training in the mountains. Sergio Ramos, who many have compared to Pirri for his leadership qualities and fighting spirit, published images from Wednesday’s basketball game in Valdebebas.

Ramos two-pointer (left), Pirri pings one in in the early 70s (right)

Zidane’s troops had a great time in Wednesday’s session. Ramos posted a picture of his dunk shot while Luka Modrić published a photo on his Instagram account with a note: “My favourite sport after football”.

The 1972 clash

It’s unlikely that the football team will pit themselves against the basketball team at the end of the season, like they did in 1972. It was club director Raimundo Saporta, who came up with the idea – 5,000 fans packed the basketball court at the old Antigua Ciudad Deportiva to watch the duel which the football team won after winning the first half of the game 20-0 (players had to kick the ball into the basket with their feet – success efforts were multiplied by 10) and losing the second half, a traditional basketball game 168-49.

'Birdman Cristiano'

No one will forget Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible leap to score against Manchester United in the Champions League in 2013; yesterday, he produced another impressive jump during the basketball game in Valdebebas. According to a study conducted by Castrol, Cristiano’s body strength allow him to leap 78 centimetres, which would enable him to head a ball at 2.63 metres – his take-off potential is almost five times his body weight - jumping qualities which are above the average set in the NBA.