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Real Madrid greats Camacho, Hierro remember ‘81, ‘98 European Cup finals


On Wednesday, Spanish radio show El Larguero had the nice idea of inviting on José Antonio Camacho and Fernando Hierro, two major figures in Real Madrid’s history. Two legends who, between them, cover two Madrid eras - one, a period in which the club tried in vain to claim its seventh European Cup; the other, a period in which La Séptima finally arrived. After the first, we were left feeling grateful to a team that had performed beyond its capabilities to get so close. It was the Madrid de los Garcías - a name that made reference to the team’s abundance of homegrown products with the surname. It was a side that went into the 1981 final with both its foreigners, Uli Stielike and Laurie Cunningham, struggling for fitness. The other era was that of the Madrid de los Ferraris, a team of stars who overcame their penchant for the good life to beat Juventus in the final in 1998, despite being heavy underdogs.

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Camacho shackled Souness superbly; Hierro was heroic

In 1981, Camacho didn’t play in his customary left-back role; he was shifted into the midfield to cancel out Graeme Souness. He did just that, and had Madrid’s best chance of the game, only to fire over the crossbar. That was a shame, but the abiding memory of Camacho’s performance was his commitment to doing the key job given to him. No-one was asking him to score the winner, so he shouldn’t dwell on that bad memory. Meanwhile, Hierro was imperious against Juventus. He was booked after 15 minutes, but remained steadfast against the likes of Inzaghi, Del Piero, Zidane and Davids. To this day, I regret not giving him four stars for his display (the maximum in AS is usually three, but the editor-in-chief can choose to give one extra).

Mbappé's Real Madrid rejection also discussed

Two finals: one won, one lost. A contrast that made for a hugely stimulating discussion. I also liked Camacho’s words on the disappointment Madrid suffered in their pursuit of Kylian Mbappé, a fabulous striker that we all believed was pretty much in the bag. His late U-turn has been met with bewilderment and is, without doubt, a huge failure for Madrid’s management. An unexpected setback that is reminiscent of the dramatic ending to the movie The Sting. It has left a cloud hanging over Real Madrid, but guys like Camacho and Hierro remind us that, regardless of unfortunate episodes such as this, the club is built on such firm foundations.


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