These ‘galacticos’ couldn’t light up the Santiago Bernabeu but went on to star for other teams
The lure of Real Madrid is unlike anything football has to offer.
Many big names have graced the fabled white shirt throughout its illustrious history. Meanwhile some players yearn to ply their trade at the Santiago Bernabeu at least once in their careers.
There’s a third category, of those who either didn’t get a chance to succeed at the club or simply, failed to impress.
Their names don’t often come up in conversations surrounding the club, so they’re largely forgotten.
Here are the top five players you might not know played for Real Madrid:
5. Emmanuel Adebayor
A prolific journeyman, the best spells of Emmanuel Adebayor’s career came in the Premier League with Manchester City, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur.
He arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2011 on a six-month loan from the Skyblues and oversaw moderate success.
With only 14 league appearances, the Togolese striker was a peripheral figure under Jose Mourinho. But he scored five times, including a hat-trick, and three more in cup games.
Adebayor returned to England the following summer with one Copa Del Rey medal to his name.
4. Juan Mata
The Spaniard’s time in La Liga is mostly remembered for being a part of an exciting Valencia side between 2007 and 2011. However, it’s his performances at Real Madrid Castilla that attracted Los Che in the first place.
Joining the club’s youth side as a 15-year old, Mata impressed with the B-team in his lone season of 2006/07. He made 39 appearances and scoring 10 times, the most in the squad after only Alvaro Negredo (18).
Yet, he agreed to leave in the summer. But, after four impressive years with Valencia, Mata carved a niche in the Premier League with Chelsea and Manchester United.
Fabinho started his European career at Real Madrid Castilla after joining from Portuguese side Rio Ave. He made 30 appearances during the 2012/13 season.
Then-manager Jose Mourinho handed the Brazilian his senior debut towards the end of the campaign, which he marked with an assist for in a 6-2 league victory over Malaga.
He was loaned out to AS Monaco in the following season and there was no looking back for Fabinho. He blossoming into one of the most sought-after midfielders during five successful years in Ligue 1.
Liverpool then came calling for his services in 2018. He went on to achieve bigger goals like the Premier League and Champions League titles over the next two years.
2. Esteban Cambiasso
Real Madrid was Cambiasso’s first stop in Europe after arriving from his native Argentina in 2002. He lifted four trophies over the next two years, including one La Liga, but could never really nail down a spot in their starting XI.
The Merengues, at the time, were packed to the rafters with Galacticos like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Raul, etc. So first-team opportunities were hard to come by.
He left for Inter Milan in 2004 after just one goal in 65 appearances for Real Madrid.
1. Samuel Eto’o
His accomplishments at other clubs make it easy to forget that Samuel Eto’o was once on Real Madrid’s books too, having in fact started his career at their youth academy in 1997.
However, the Cameroonian spent most of his playing time elsewhere across La Liga and left after just three league appearances for Los Blancos.
Their loss turned out to be Barcelona’s gain as Eto’o enjoyed the most glorious spell of his career at the Camp Nou, scoring goals and winning titles galore.
After lifting the continental ‘treble’ with them in 2009, the striker joined Inter Milan and repeated the trick a year later, making him the only player to accomplish the feat in consecutive years.