REAL MADRID

Santillana: “The public sucked in my minute 90 goal vs Borussia”

Santillana sat down with AS to talk about Real Madrid's most famous comebacks in Europe.

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Santillana on Madrid's miracle comebacks

Former Real Madrid striker Santillana is something of an expert on late comebacks - he played a part in several of the club's most memorable European fightbacks - matches that were deemed as good as lost but somehow, were turned around at the Bernabéu on nights that have entered into Real Madrid folklore. As the saying goes, 90 minutes at the Bernabéu is a very, very long time...

How did this legend aboout Madrid comebacks all begin?

When we met Derby County in 1975-76. We lost 4-1 over there and we manage to get the same result in the return leg at the Bernabéu; we went into extra-time and scored another. Back then the Bernabéu could hold 120,000 and they made you leave your heart and soul out there. Whether we played well or badly, we'd be saying to our rivals: “Eh, we're here!”. Now something similar is happening. The Champions League is our competition, and you can really tell...

Does this Madrid side remind you of the team you were a part of when you'd give it one final push?

It's fantastic to see the players display such a good attitude right up until the very end like they did against Sporting; the team played with intensity even though it wasn't a two-legged tie and only a group stage game where the tension is much lower.

What was the secret to Madrid always bouncing back in the 80s?

We had a lot of confidence at the Bernabéu. Even when we suffered heavy defeats, we'd all get together as one - Amancio, Pirri, Velázquez... then players like Juanito, Camacho, Stielike, San José, and myself. The courage and rage we had provoked a reaction.

How did you go about turning a score around?

We had a very good side for playing our home games. Both wings were wide open with Míchel and Gordillo on either side - both were excellent crossers of the ball; we had players like Valdano and myself who were decent headers of the ball... And for little one-twos through the middle we had Buitre with Míchel or Martín Vázquez and before that, Juanito...

What were the circumstances when Juanito came out with his famous phrase ‘90 minuti...’?

(Laughs). That was in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in '85-86 - we went 3-1 up then made it 5-1 in stoppage time. I'm sure you know that at San Siro there used to be this really long corridor from the pitch to the changing rooms - it was at least 50 metres or longer. And both teams had to walk down the corridor. The Italians would be going down it laughing to themselves. And Juanito, who was a huge character and was just as wound up as we were by this, confront them and said: “Just you wait -  90 minuti en el Bernabéu son molto longos” in perfect Spanish-Italian... To be honest though, in in a lot of those games, we had luck, because we were playing for our lives.

In the 1985-86 UEFA Cup campaign there was another miracle comeback, against Borussia Mönchengladbach...

For me, that was, without any doubt on a par with the Derby County tie, those were the two most emotional ties I can recall. We'd lost 5-1 in Germany and we believed we could win 4-0 at home. The stadium felt like it was about to errupt. And we reached the final minutes needing just one goal. I scored in the last minute, on 90 minutes. Just imagine those 120,000 people screaming. To this day I am convinced that the public sucked in that goal for us.

What was the move like?

It came from a throw-in into the box. Blimey, what a racket the crowd was making. The ball landed at my feet and I just had a couple of stabs at it, don't ask me how. I'd scored not long before that, to make it 3-0. Now that was a nice goal - a volley.

How did you celebrate?

I did lose it a bit! (view image above). Everyone piled on me. That game was all down to the fans, who helped us against those very strong German players who had steamrollered us over in Germany... The psychological preparation was different back then, it's more professional now, I see this Madrid team with the kind of DNA only winners have in Europe.