Manchester United and Real Madrid are two of Europe’s most historically prestigious clubs. Prior to the recently developed strain in the relationship between the clubs in the transfer market, they always had maintained a good professional relationship between them and can be traced back to as early as 1950s.
As the two heavyweights go head to head against each other later today for the UEFA Super Cup, let’s take a look at all the players who have played for both the clubs till date:
Laurie Cunningham (England):
Real Madrid : 1979-1983
Manchester United : 1982-83(Loan)
Laurie Cunningham became the first British player to play in the Spanish League after joining Real Madrid from West Brom in 1979. Cunningham, popularly known as El Negro de Los Blancos, made 44 appearances for the club and is best known for his brace on his debut.
He remains the only Madrid player to receive a standing ovation at the Camp Nou, and played a crucial role in Real winning the Liga and the domestic cup in 1979.
In 1982, he re-united with his former boss Ron Atkinson at Manchester United after agreeing to move on a loan deal. However ,his stint with United was a rather unsuccessful one and made only a handful of appearances for the Reds.
David Beckham (England):
Manchester United : 1992-2003
Real Madrid : 2003-2007
David Beckham was probably football’s first global superstar and was immensely popular in the football community.
Part of the famed Class of 92 that formed the core of the Manchester United team for the next two decades, David Beckham was one of the best, if not the best, free kick takers in his time and has scored on countless occasions.
He was named Man of the Match in United’s Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in 1999 and has won 13 trophies with the club.
After somewhat falling out with Sir Alex a couple of years later, Beckham made the move to Los Blancos and became Madrid’s first ever ‘Galactico’.
His four-year tenure at the club saw him win one Spanish league title which came in the final season of his career for the Los Blancos before he made his move to MLS side LA Galaxy.
Rudd Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands):
Manchester United : 2001-2006
Real Madrid : 2006-2010
In his time, Rudd Van Nistelrooy was one of the best goal scorers in the world and was well known for his ‘poaching’ instincts as well as his knack of coming up with the goods consistently.
After moving to United from PSV in 2001, it didn’t take long before the Dutch striker became immensely popular with the Old Trafford faithful. He scored 23 goals in 32 league matches in his debut season, and was named the PFA’s Player of the Year.
He was the league’s top scorer in the following season, leading United to a victorious league campaign, which earned him the Premier League Player of the Season award in 2003.
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He made the move to Real Madrid in 2006 after it became common knowledge that he was unhappy with the club. He was the league’s top scorer, finishing the season with 25 goals, leading Real to their 2006-07 league title in his debut season.
However, he soon fell out of favour after struggling with injuries which constantly kept him out of match day squad. He scored over 60 goals for the Spanish side and remains one of the few players who became successful at both the clubs.
Gabriel Heinze (Argentina):
Manchester United : 2004-2007
Real Madrid : 2007-2009
One could see why United fans loved Heinze, in spite of playing for just three years for the club.
Fiery, passionate and extremely committed to his game, he established himself as United’s first choice left-back the year he made the move from Paris St.Germain and was named United’s best player in his season, and played a part in United’s 2006-07 title winning campaign.
However, the arrival of Patrice Evra limited his game time and he became unpopular with the fans by demanding a move to Liverpool.
Understandably Sir Alex refused to sanction the deal and instead allowed Heinze to move to Spain to be the third player after Beckham and Van Nistelrooy to join Madrid directly from United.
His two year stint with Real Madrid saw him win the league title in his debut season.
Michael Owen(England) :
Real Madrid : 2004-05
Manchester United : 2009-12
In his time , Michael Owen was one of the best strikers around and after having a successful career with his boyhood club Liverpool, he made the move to Real Madrid in 2004.
However, he couldn’t cement a regular starting spot , often playing second fiddle to Raul Gonzales.
In spite of scoring 18 goals in just 15 starts, Owen opted to move back to the Premier League as Madrid signed two other attackers in the form of Robinho and Julio Baptista.
In 2009, Manchester United signed Owen on a pay-as-you-play deal as he was well known to be struggling with constant injuries.
His three years at the club saw him win the League Cup in the 2009-10 season and the 2010-11 Premier League title.
His last minute winner against rivals Manchester City has endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful much more that the crowd from Anfield would have liked.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal):
Manchester United : 2003-2009
Real Madrid : 2009-current
He needs no introduction. One of the greatest players to have ever played the beautiful game of football, Cristiano Ronaldo was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s favourite signing and predicted him to be the best player in the world before anyone else did.
He came to Old Trafford in 2003 from Sporting Lisbon as a raw, unproven teenager and went on to become one of the greatest players to don the famous red shirt.
He scored an impressive 118 goals in 292 appearances for the club which is a remarkable feat since he predominantly played as a left winger at the time.
His remarkable 42 goals in all competitions in the 2007-08 season , which saw United win the Premier League and the Champions League, won him the European Golden Shoe, becoming the first winger to do so.
After a long transfer saga over his transfer to Real Madrid, the 4 time Ballon D’Or winner eventually made the move to the Bernabeu for a then world record transfer fee of 80 million pound deal.
It is safe to say that Cristiano has made the price look like a bargain, as he scored more than 400 goals ( And still counting!) and helped Madrid to win the Spanish League 2 times, Copa del Rey 2 times and Champions League 3 times.
He is also the only player to have won the Champions League and the Ballon D’or with both the clubs.
Angel Di Maria (Argentina):
Real Madrid : 2010-14
Manchester United : 2014-15
The talented midfielder/winger from Argentina was a fan favourite at the Bernabeu and rightly so. In his 4 year stint with the club, Di Maria was part of a team that became well known for their deadly counter attacking football , a team that included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo , Mesut Ozil, Higuain and Kaka.
He is well known for his creativity and was often the provider for many of Madrid’s, in particular, Cristiano’s goals , and also chipped in with quality and important goals.
In 2014, he became Manchester United’s most expensive signing at the time after United agreed to pay close to 60 million pounds for the Argentine.
In spite of starting the season well and providing 10 assists in his lone season with the club, Di Maria’s stint in England was rather unsuccessful and he moved to PSG in the following season.
At the 2014-15 season’s end, Di María was judged by pundits and journalists to be the worst signing of the season.
Javier Hernandez (Mexico):
Manchester United : 2010-14
Real Madrid : 2014-15 (Loan)
Javier Hernandez, well known as Chicharito(Mexican for ‘Little Pea’), made the move to Old Trafford in 2010 after club scouts filed positive reports to Sir Alex.
In 157 appearances for the club, he scored 59 goals, often as a substitute.
Chicharito was a favourite among the Old Trafford faithful and was used more as an impact player rather than a starter.
With excellent instincts and positioning, Chicharito has often swung games in United’s favour after coming on late as a substitute.
In 2014, Louis Van Gaal allowed Chicharito to join Real Madrid on a loan deal where he scored 9 goals in 33 appearances, and soon after , United permitted Hernandez to join Bayer Leverkusen for 7.3 million pounds.