Fabio Capello has reflected on his two spells at Real Madrid, including an overweight Ronaldo and difficult requests from Presidents.
It was put to Capello in an interview with AS that there are a number of players current Madrid Coach Zinedine Zidane has to name in his starting XI, but he denied having a similar experience barring the time Fernando Sanz made the case for one player in particular.
“When Madrid signed Marcelo, Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain, all very young, Ramon Calderon said ‘why don’t you play them?’ I replied ‘don’t worry, they’re the future fortune of Madrid,’” he revealed.
“The only problem I had with Lorenzo Sanz is because he wanted his son to play. And Fernando is a good kid. He trained perfectly. But his father insisted he play, and that couldn’t happen.”
Capello coincided with Ronaldo in his second spell at Madrid around a decade ago, and recalled the time he questioned the forward about his weight.
“Look, he weighed 96kg. I asked ‘how much did you weigh when you won the World Cup [in 2002]?’ the veteran revealed.
“84kg he said. ‘Can you go down to 90kg at least?’ And he didn’t…
“It was a Madrid of words, not work. They were good players, but they weren’t connected. It was difficult. They had cliques…
“When people ask me the best player I’ve worked with, I always say Ronaldo. Ronaldo was awesome, the best by far. Him and [Marco] van Basten.”
Capello was, like Rafa Benitez recently, derided for being ‘defensive’ during his time at Sangtiao Bernabeu, an accusation he feels strongly about.
“It’s the biggest lie in the world! They started to say it when I won the first title at Milan, all games were 1-0, 1-0, 1-0,” he protested.
“But look at my first year at Madrid. I only played Redondo in midfield. Next to him was Clarence Seedorf, the playmaker. Victor was wide, Raul and either Pedrag Miajtovic and Davor Suker up front. Is that defensive?
“[In 2006-07] we couldn’t move the ball [with Emerson and Lassana Diarra], no. We were missing quality, but that was what I had. And we had problems with some of the players, such as Ronaldo. When he was sold, the team changed.
“I talked to the team to try and win the last 11, 12 games, and we did. We won the title because people started to move and press more.
“My first Madrid team was high quality, a very serious team. They were a team of men. [Fernando] Hierro, Raul, [Bodo] Illgner as well…there were a lot of men. Mijatovic, Suker, Redondo.
“They were all leaders of character, they were determined to win. They wanted to suffer, to train…”