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Santiago Bernabéu (footballer)

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Santiago Bernabéu
Bernabéu in 1971
11th President of Real Madrid
In office
11 September 1943 – 2 June 1978
Preceded byAntonio Santos Peralba
Succeeded byLuis de Carlos
Personal details
Born(1895-06-08)8 June 1895
Montealegre, Spain
Died2 June 1978(1978-06-02) (aged 82)
Madrid, Spain
Association football career
Full name Santiago Bernabéu de Yeste
Position(s) Forward
Youth career
Madrid FC
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1911–1920 Madrid FC 29 (27)
1920–1921 Athletic Madrid[1][2] 1 (0)
1921–1926 Real Madrid 22 (20)
Total 51 (46[3])
Managerial career
1926–1927 Real Madrid
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Santiago Bernabéu de Yeste (Spanish pronunciation: [sanˈtjaɣo βeɾnaˈβew ˈʝeste]; 8 June 1895 – 2 June 1978) was a Spanish footballer who played for Real Madrid as a forward. He is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of Real Madrid,[4] having served as its president for 34 years and 264 days, from 11 September 1943 until his death on 2 June 1978.[5]

Under Bernabéu's leadership, Real Madrid became a dominant team both on national and international level, with its influence stretching beyond the football pitch. The club's current stadium is named in his honour.[6]

Early years and career[edit]

Bernabéu was born in Montealegre del Castillo (named simply Montealegre before 1916), in the province of Albacete, Spain. However, he was registered at his parents' home in the near town Almansa, where his family lived. His family moved to Madrid when he was very young, and Bernabéu himself joined the Real Madrid junior ranks in 1909 at age 14, after being a regular spectator at their matches for years. Bernabéu wore the captain's armband for years. In 1920, Santiago Bernabéu withdrew from Real Madrid and went on to join their city rival Atlético Madrid, with whom he would only play one game. In 1921, he returned to Real Madrid, playing as a striker before retiring from playing in 1926. He continued to be associated with the club until 1935, first as manager of the first team, then as a director and later becoming assistant manager.[7]

Civil War[edit]

With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, professional football ceased to be played in Spain. During the war, Bernabéu fought on the side of Francisco Franco's Nationalists under the general Agustín Muñoz Grandes.[8]

Post-Civil War[edit]

After the war, Bernabéu proceeded to spend the next several months finding and contacting former players, directors, and club members, eventually restructuring the club.[9]

In 1943, Bernabéu was elected president of Real Madrid – a position he would occupy until his death on 2 June 1978, beginning to implant his ideas. He restructured the club at all levels, in what would become the normal operating structure of professional clubs in the future, giving every section and level of the club independent technical teams and recruiting people who were ambitious and visionary in their own right, such as Raimundo Saporta.[10]

He then endeavoured to build what would become the stadium that today bears his name, at the time the largest stadium in all of Europe. The Ciudad Deportiva, built so that the players could train without damaging the stadium's pitch, was also constructed during these years. Finally, he embarked upon an ambitious strategy of signing world-class players from Spain and abroad, the most prominent of them being the signing of Alfredo Di Stéfano. During Bernabéu's presidency many of Real Madrid's most legendary names played for the club, including Molowny, Muñoz, Di Stéfano, Gento, Rial, Santamaría, Kopa, Puskás, Amancio, Pirri, Netzer, Santillana, Juanito, Camacho, del Bosque, and many others.[11] With this legendary team, Real Madrid would go on to usher in an unprecedented era of dominance both domestically and internationally, highlighted by its five consecutive European Cup triumphs and numerous domestic titles.[12]

Influence in Europe and legacy[edit]

In 1955, acting upon the idea proposed by the L'Équipe journalist Gabriel Hanot and building upon the Latin Cup (at the time the most important European club tournament involving the champions of France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy), Bernabéu met in the Ambassador Hotel in Paris with Bedrignan and Gustav Sebes and created what was at first a loosely constructed tournament played among invited teams, but which over time developed into what is today the Champions League. Under the administration of UEFA, it is the world's premier club competition.[13]

Bernabéu helped Manchester United rebuild its team following the Munich air disaster in 1958.[14]

At the time of his death, Bernabéu had been the club's president for 35 years, during which his club won 6 European Cups, 2 Latin Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 16 league titles, 6 Spanish Cups, and 1 Copa Eva Duarte.[15] He died in 1978, while the World Cup was being played in Argentina. In his honour FIFA decreed three days of mourning during the tournament.[16] In 2002, he was posthumously awarded the FIFA Order of Merit.[17]





  1. ^ "Santiago Bernabéu y su increíble traición al Real Madrid" [Santiago Bernabéu and his incredible betrayal of Real Madrid]. futbolretro.es (in Spanish). 21 November 2018.
  2. ^ "El día en que Santiago Bernabéu fichó por el Atlético de Madrid" [The day Santiago Bernabéu signed for Atlético de Madrid]. as.com (in Spanish). 6 March 2021.
  3. ^ "BDFutbol - Santiago Bernabéu". BDFutbol.
  4. ^ "36 años sin Santiago Bernabéu" [36 years without Santiago Bernabéu]. Marca.com (in Spanish). Unidad Editorial Información Deportiva. 2 June 2014.
  5. ^ Santiago Bernabeu Real Madrid C.F. Retrieved 13 February 2010. Archived 19 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Santiago Bernabéu 1943·1978". Real Madrid CF. realmadrid.com. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Santiago Bernabéu de Yeste 1911·1928". Real Madrid CF. realmadrid.com. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Datos biográficos". ABC. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Santiago Bernabéu 1943·1978". Real Madrid CF. realmadrid.com. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  10. ^ "Nueva Junta Directiva del Real Madrid". ABC. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Veteranos del Real Madrid y del Eintracht rememoran 'El partido del siglo'". Diario Marca. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Santiago Bernabéu 1943–1978". Real Madrid CF. realmadrid.com. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  13. ^ "Franco fue el primer culé de España". El Correo Gallego. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  14. ^ "How Real Madrid helped rebuild Manchester United after the Munich air disaster". 6 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Santiago Bernabéu 1943·1978". Real Madrid CF. realmadrid.com. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  16. ^ "Don Santiago Bernabéu falleció ayer". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Listado de los galardonados con la Orden del Mérito de la FIFA" (PDF).

External links[edit]