Chelsea may have never played at the famous Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the venue for Sunday evening’s meeting between our Legends side and their equivalents from Real Madrid in a charity fundraiser, but for several of our squad the experience will not be new.
Chelsea fans in the UK and Ireland can watch our Legends team take on their Real Madrid counterparts at 6.20pm live on our official app, The 5th Stand. Chelsea TV subscribers can also watch the match. Click for more details
Gustavo Poyet is one for whom the Bernabeu experience will be nothing new following the seven years he spent at Real Zaragoza in Spain, prior to his move to Chelsea in 1997, as he has been telling us.
‘It was always difficult when we played there, something always happened,’ Poyet recalls.
‘I remember when they started the rule that when the striker went past the goalkeeper and there was a foul for a penalty then it is also a red card, and we came to the Bernabeu and after seven minutes [Emilio] Butragueno dribbled past our goalkeeper and it was a penalty and he got sent off, so now we have a penalty against us and with 80 minutes to play at the Bernabeu, with 10 men, tough! We didn’t win!
‘But we used to play good football and I remember one game when Chelsea watched me play there, before they got me to Chelsea, and I played against [Fernando] Redondo and it was a 0-0. It was very tactical, I had to mark him a lot and it was a more defensive game for me than offensive.
‘But I don’t think I ever won there. It could be the first time today! We will try and I think we have a chance. You never know.
‘It is a lovely place, it is an absolutely fantastic stadium, it is massive and you look up and it never finishes.’
Even if Poyet did not beat Real Madrid on their own patch during his playing career, he certainly did in neutral Monaco when we played the side from the Spanish capital for the UEFA Super Cup in 1998. He scored the only goal of the game.
‘Some people here this weekend were asking me if I thought when I walk onto the pitch the Real Madrid fans will remember me and react because of the goal I scored in the Super Cup – and I am thinking please, come on, it is a charity game!
‘But yes, it was one big day for me in Monaco because I was always thinking about why I don’t score in finals and I was able to score in that one. For us at the time it was an incredible opportunity to play for a European trophy against Real Madrid. It was a massive game and I did not start the game which disappointed me but then I was able to help the team to win, so it is always there with the best moments in my career.
‘It was special for me because I had come from playing in Spain and not started the match. It happened to me also when we played Barcelona with Gianluca [Vialli] as our manager and I thought I was the player who knew Barcelona the best and I thought I am going to be playing. If someone needs to mark Guardiola then I am the person, I had marked him for seven years, and then I did not play.
‘With Real Madrid it happened the same way, but I was able to go on for the last 25 minutes, and what I liked was the reaction of the press in Spain who said if there was someone who was going to score against Real Madrid from Chelsea it was going to be Gustavo Poyet.’
For a different reason Claude Makelele is very familiar with Real Madrid and their home stadium. He played for Real for three years before his move to Stamford Bridge in 2003. He tells us how much he is relishing being back there this weekend and explains that a big crowd traditionally turns up for these Legends games for the Real Madrid Foundation. He thinks he still has 90 minutes running in him.
Another in the Chelsea squad, Ricardo Carvalho, is also a former Real Madrid player while Juliano Belletti returns there having experienced the El Clasico in his Barcelona days.
Poyet surveys the Real Madrid Legends squad.
‘I know well Fernando Morientes, I played with him in Zaragoza and it was spectacular, we had a good relationship and it will be good to see him again. I had a good chat with Raul in New York. I met him in a football gala, we talked about coaching and he just got his first appointment with the second team at Real Madrid which is going to be great and I congratulated him. I know Roberto Carlos from games between Brazil and Uruguay, and I ran a lot down his side!
‘Butragueno I played against for many years and he had a few nice words when Real Madrid beat Real Betis [where Poyet was manager], he was very good with me. Cesar Sanchez I had when I was a coach at Tottenham.
‘I could not play when Chelsea Legends played last year [against Inter Forever], I was working so it is nice to see the boys again.
‘I was never a runner, I did not like pre-seasons, I just did that work because it was needed, so I am not going to be running now, but I like the gym and I like to look after myself. I am alright and I think I am going to have a good time on the pitch today.’
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