Former Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate has named the top three players he played alongside during his spell at the club.
Woodgate played for the Spanish giants between 2004 and 2007. He was signed from Newcastle for £13.4 million in 2004.
The defender had already established himself as one of England’s finest young centre-backs. He came through the academy at Leeds United, and made a combined 59 Premier League appearances in his first two seasons as a professional.
Woodgate also highly impressed in Europe as Leeds reached the 1999/00 UEFA Cup semi-final. The Whites eventually lost to Galatasaray.
However, injuries affected him in the following seasons. He was then sold to Newcastle as Leeds’ infamous financial problems began to mount.
Now back in Europe, Woodgate once again hit top form. But injuries once again played their part. In addition, he was injured when he moved to Real that summer.
‘Injury’ was a word that plagued Woodgate throughout his time at the Bernabeu. He missed the entirety of his first season at the club. He was then sent off shortly after conceding an own goal on debut.
The Leeds-born defender showed his talent in the 14 appearances he made for the Spanish giants, but his 2005/06 season was eventually curtailed early due to injury. He joined Middlesbrough that summer on a loan deal that was later made permanent in 2007.
At the time of his signing at Real, Woodgate became one of the three British players at the club, alongside Michael Owen and David Beckham. Real were firmly in the midst of the ‘Galacticos’ era under Florentino Perez, meaning the England defender played alongside some incredible, world-class talents.
Speaking to BritishGambler.co.uk, Jonathan Woodgate revealed the top three players he played alongside at Real Madrid. Here is who he chose:
Woodgate chose Zinedine Zidane as the best player he ever played with.
The Frenchman joined Real in 2001 for a world-record fee and established himself as a club legend in just five years. He scored 49 goals in 230 games in all competitions, including a stunning strike against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final.
Known for his incredible eye for a pass and his goalscoring ability, Zidane is one of the game’s greatest midfielders.
Woodgate explained: “Zidane was unbelievable. So elegant. I was so lucky to be involved with world-class players.
“The things he would do in training were just frightening. [We] couldn’t get the ball off him. He’d just see passes that weren’t there. Special player.”
Jonathan Woodgate also named Guti as one of his top three Real Madrid team-mates.
The Spanish attacking midfielder came through the youth system at the club, before going on to make over 400 appearances. He was one of the finest midfielders of his generation, with an incredible passing ability and the knack of bringing team-mates into play out of nowhere.
Woodgate simply said: “That Guti backheel to Ronaldo against Deportivo. He was just phenomenal. A very underrated player.”
Woodgate’s third pick is none other than Ronaldo.
The Brazilian legend needs little introduction. The 1997 winner of the Ballon d’Or award, Ronaldo was like no other player to have ever played the game in his early career.
A horrific knee injury suffered at the latter club caused him to miss almost three years of action and permanently changed him as a footballer, but Ronaldo retained his status as one of the best forwards on the planet.
At Real, Ronaldo netted 103 goals in 187 appearances in all competitions. In 2002, he won his second Ballon d’Or.
Woodgate explained: “I tried to mark Ronaldo in training! When Ronaldo wanted to turn it on, he could really turn it on. And he could turn it on. He was that good that he could just turn it on whenever he wanted to, to be honest.
“A real top player. Everyone said he was heavy, but you could see in the dressing room without a shirt on that he was muscly, powerful and strong. Great personality as well.
“I really got on with Ronaldo and the Brazilian lads – all very down to earth and enjoy themselves and enjoy life, with happy go lucky personalities, which is similar to myself.”
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