On October 30, 1999, Atletico Madrid fans were on cloud nine. They had just beaten Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu 3-1 but tragedy was just around the corner. A few months later the club were relegated and the rest is history. Since that fateful evening there have been 25 games in which 183 players have played in El Derbi. There have been 19 different Coaches in the dugouts and 36 different players have scored for either Los Blancos or Los Indios. Friday might see more players added to those statistics, but let’s take a look back at that night in the Santiago Bernabeu and the last Atleti team to beat Real Madrid.
This is the side that Coach Claudio Ranieri sent out. Los Rojiblancos had Jose Francisco Molina between the sticks. The goalkeeper was part of the 1996 double winning side and would go on to win the League at Deportivo too. Also at the back there was the South American pair Carlos Gamarra, former Paraguay captain, and Argentine and former Lazio defender Jose Antonio Chamot, with Juan Carlos Aguilera, whom is now head of Atletico’s Youth Academy, on the wing with another Canterano, Gaspar Galvez Burgos, making up the defence.
Sitting just in front of them there is possibly one of the unluckiest players in football. Czech defensive midfielder Radek Bejbl signed for Atleti after losing to Germany in Euro 1996. At Atletico he played in two Copa del Rey Finals, losing both and when the team went down he joined Lens in France, who would then also go on to be relegated. Playing in front of him in defence was World Cup and European Championship winning left-back Joan Capdevila, who would then leave with Molina for Deportivo. Ruben Baraja played in the centre of midfield and he would later have a very successful career at Valencia. On the wing there was Santiago Hernan Solari who would later leave after relegation and join arch rivals Real Madrid. He is one of only a few players who have scored for both clubs in El Derbi.
The most famous player is certainly Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who joined the club from Leeds United and was back in England a few months after scoring a brace in the Bernabeu. The striker scored 24 goals for Atletico in his only season at the club. Upfront Jose Mari partnered him. The former Sevilla forward joined Milan after the Manzanares club was relegated, returning to Spain in 2003 and becoming a bit of a journeyman, playing with Atletico on loan, Villarreal, Real Betis, Gimnastic and Xerez.
Coming off the bench that night was Juan Carlos Valeron, Uruguayan striker Fernando ‘Petete’ Correa and a man who has had more clubs than Nick Faldo, Veljko Paunovic. Every now and again when the Derby gets close one of Spain’s sports papers interview one of the players to ask about that night and to explain what it is like to win against Real Madrid. Atletico fans will be hoping that maybe after Friday, looking back with this group of players will be no longer needed.