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Firing Blancos

Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 100th and 101st league goals for Real Madrid on Saturday and in doing so racked up a century of goals in the Spanish top-flight in record time. He is now Madrid's 12th highest scorer of all-time in the league, so here we take a look at the XI leading the way.

Raul (228 goals, 550 matches, 1994-2010)

Born in the capital, Raul Gonzalez was to become the ultimate symbol of Real Madrid, but it might have been very different. His father was a diehard Atletico Madrid supporter, and he had sent his son to play for Atletico's nursery club, Villaverde Alto. He was part of their Under-14 side during a season in which they scored 175 goals and conceded just one but, in 1992, Rojiblancos' president Jesus Gil dismantled the youth team and Raul made his way to their arch-rivals.

By 1994, Madrid coach Jorge Valdano had promoted Raul from the third team to the senior team; at 17 years and 124 days old, he became the club's youngest ever player and, despite a disappointing debut, swiftly established himself as a forward of genuine class as he edged the legendary Emilio Butragueno out of the team. "The boy is too good to leave out," Butragueno admitted.

Hugely dedicated to his craft, Raul was to win six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with Madrid, winning the Pichichi in 1998-99, with 25 goals, and in 2000-01, with 24, on his way to becoming the club's all-time leading scorer.

"It's nice that everyone congratulates me," he said when drawing level with Alfredo Di Stefano's record tally in February 2009, "but I am focused on the next match and another victory. I want to win more titles."

Alfredo Di Stefano (216 goals, 282 matches, 1953-64)

Widely regarded as one of the finest players ever to have played the game, Di Stefano's signing was hugely controversial, and he might well have become a Barcelona player - the full story of his signing is covered here.

Di Stefano's presence was central to Madrid's early dominance of the European Cup: Los Blancos won each of the first five editions of the competition, and the Argentine scored in every one of those finals, including a hat-trick in the legendary 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960.

His incredible contribution to the club's European success was matched by his prowess on the domestic front: he helped Madrid to eight Liga titles, and won the Pichichi trophy in 1953-54, 1955-56, 1956-57, 1957-58 (tied with Manuel Badenes and Ricardo Alos) and 1958-59.

He played for the club for 11 years before being released, at the age of 38, after the 3-1 European Cup final defeat to Helenio Herrera's Inter Milan in 1964.

Santillana (186 goals, 461 matches, 1971-1988)

Although Carlos Alonso Gonzalez, nicknamed Santillana in honour of his Cantabrian hometown, remains Madrid's third-highest scorer in the league, he did not once win the Pichichi during his distinguished playing career.

Having begun his professional career with Racing Santander, he agreed a move to the capital before he had reached his 19th birthday, but nearly did not play beyond his 20th: a kidney problem threatened to bring an early end to his career in 1972.

After talks with the player, doctors allowed Santillana to continue his career and he never looked back. Largely thanks to his legendary heading ability - despite standing just 1.75m (5ft 7in) tall - he scored the goals to help Madrid to nine league titles over the course of his career. He enjoyed particular success in the UEFA Cup, scoring in both finals as Madrid lifted the trophy in 1985 and 1986, as well as winning the Copa del Rey four times.

Hugo Sanchez (164 goals, 207 matches, 1985-92)

After spending the early years of his career in his native Mexico with Pumas, Sanchez made the move to Spain with Atletico Madrid in 1981, and won his first Pichichi with the Rojiblancos in 1984-85 after netting 19 goals in 33 games. After winning the Copa del Rey, he made the controversial switch to the Bernabeu.

He was a huge success at Real. He won the Pichichi in each of his first three seasons, and - after missing out to Baltazar of Atletico in 1988-89 - won it for the fifth time in 1989-90 with 38 goals in just 35 games.

His time at the club was not all plain sailing. He endured a difficult spell with the supporters after making noises about a move to Italy in 1987 - sacrilege at a club like Madrid - and his arrogance did not help. Explaining the supporters' lukewarm reaction to his efforts, he said in 1988: "It's my own fault for scoring marvellous goals. Since I score so many, people get used to them and it doesn't seem so important."

His incredible on-field success, as he helped the club to five Liga titles, was ultimately too impressive to disregard and he was to become a club legend, but many still found him difficult to like, and as the Atletico president Jesus Gil said in Sanchez's final year in the capital: "He is about as welcome in this city as a piranha fish in a bidet."

Ferenc Puskas (156 goals, 180 matches, 1958-66)

The great Puskas spent his best years playing for Honved, netting 165 goals in 164 games, but he began the most famous chapter of his club career after being hit with a Hungarian Football Federation ban in March 1957, just before his 30th birthday, as a result of his refusal to return to his homeland following the Hungarian Revolution.

He touted his services to numerous top clubs around the continent, expecting to be banned for only six months, but it was not until 1958 that Puskas, by then 31, returned to full-time football with Real Madrid.

There had been serious doubts over his fitness - Puskas' weight had long been a cause for concern - but they were swiftly dispelled. The inside forward scored four hat-tricks in the 1958-59 season and won the Pichichi in four of the five seasons that followed, while he netted 100 league goals for the club in his first 105 matches. His goals helped the club to five Liga titles before his retirement in 1966

He also won three European Cups with the club, though he played in only two finals, and his greatest moment came with his four goals in the 7-3 success over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960. Puskas had nearly missed the game, having been banned from all football activity by the German authorities after accusing them of using drugs in the 1954 World Cup final, but he apologised for his comments in the days leading up to the game and the ban was lifted.

Francisco Gento (126 goals, 428 matches, 1953-71)

The legendary Paco Gento had dreamed of playing for Racing Santander as a youngster, and achieved his goal when making his professional debut for the club in the 1952-53 season, but after just one year he was persuaded to move to the capital by Santiago Bernabeu.

Famed for his speed - he had also pursued athletics in his youth - outside-left Gento nonetheless struggled to show many other qualities upon arrival at Madrid. It was with the signing of Hector Rial in 1954 that he began to show his qualities, and Gento developed into a player renowned throughout Europe - the fact that he played on for the club until he was a rather corpulent 37-year-old is evidence enough of the breadth of his qualities.

He did not once win the Pichichi award but ended his career with an extraordinary wealth of trophies: a record six European Cups, 12 league titles and two Spanish cups.

Emilio Butragueno (123 goals, 341 matches, 1984-95)

The man who would become famed as El Butre was born in Madrid, but it had been by no means certain that he would don the famous white shirt. In his early years, he had idolised the Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff, and Atletico had attempted to sign him after he scored eight goals in one youth game; ultimately, though, Real won the battle for his signature.

Having made a positive impression with Real's youth and reserve teams, coach Alfredo Di Stefano promoted Butragueno to the first team in 1984, and he made his debut as a substitute in a game at relegation-threatened Cadiz in February. With Madrid losing 2-0, the 20-year-old Butragueno came on to score two goals and provide an assist to secure victory.

Butragueno featured in the UEFA Cup triumphs of 1985 and 1986, and enjoyed even greater success on the domestic front, winning Liga titles in 1985-86, 1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1994-95 - though his only Pichichi award came when he scored 19 goals in the 1990-91 campaign in which they finished third.

His time at the club came to end with the emergence of the prodigious Raul, and Butragueno departed in 1995 for Mexican side Celeya.

Pirri (123 goals, 417 matches, 1964-80)

Jose Martinez Sanchez, nicknamed Pirri, scored an impressive number of goals for one who played much of his career in midfield and defence, even if he was sometimes used as a makeshift striker.

He joined the club in 1964 after just one year as a professional with Granada - one of several signings that summer as Real overhauled the great squad of the previous decade - and established himself as a heart-on-sleeve player of the highest order, memorably playing with his arm in a sling in the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup final defeat to Chelsea.

In his debut season, he won the first of ten league titles, and he was part of the European Cup-winning side of 1966. He remained an important member of the team until his move to Mexican side Puebla in 1980 at the age of 35.

Amancio (119 goals, 344 matches, 1962-76)

After four years in the second tier, Amancio finally had his chance to play in the top-flight as Deportivo secured promotion in 1962, and his performances had not gone unnoticed. A skilful and pacy player, several top clubs had sought his signature but, when Madrid made their approach, they were told the outside right was requesting a signing-on fee of 10 million pesetas (£60,000).

The Madrid officials subsequently told Santiago Bernabeu that the signing would therefore not be feasible but the president - having been advised of his quality by an old school friend who owned the Voz de Galicia newspaper - insisted: "Amancio will play for Real Madrid. Sign him."

The transfer went through in June 1962, and Amancio was an instant success. He scored on his debut at Real Betis, and won the title in his first season. In the seasons to come, he would win the league a further eight times - twice finishing the season as the joint Pichichi winner, with 14 goals in 1968-69 and with 16 goals in 1969-70 - as well as scoring the equalising goal in the European Cup final victory over Partizan in 1966.

Pahino (108 goals, 124 matches, 1948-53)

Pahino had proved himself a prolific striker with hometown club Celta Vigo during the first five years of his career, netting 59 goals in 101 games, and his 20 goals in 22 games in the 1947-48 campaign saw him win the Pichichi.

Having helped his club to fourth in the table and the final of the Copa del Generalisimo in 1948, Pahino requested a pay-rise. When he failed to receive it, Madrid swooped and took the player to the capital.

Madrid won no silverware during Pahino's time at the club, but that was no reflection on the player: in his first season, he scored 21 in 24 games; in his second, he hit 19 in 22; and in his third, 21 in 24. He won the Pichichi in 1951-52 with 28 goals from 27 appearances, and then scored 19 in 25 games the following campaign.

On the back of that impressive goal-scoring form, he had requested a three-year contract extension, but Madrid, whose policy was to offer only one-year extensions to players over 30, refused. Pahino departed for Deportivo, and Madrid went on to better things as the great Alfredo Di Stefano joined their ranks.

Fernando Hierro (102 goals, 439 matches, 1989-2003)

In almost 15 years at the Bernabeu, Hierro established himself as a defensive lynchpin, but also managed to rack up over a century of goals.

Hierro, who joined Madrid in 1989 after two years with Real Valladolid, began his career as a defensive midfielder but ultimately established himself as a centre-back. Yet, as an expert penalty taker, a free-kick specialist and a fine header of the ball, he could be prolific, as seen when netting 21 league goals in the 1991-92 campaign.

His time at the club brought five Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, but he was released in 2003 at the age of 35 after coming under fire for his performances.


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