Before Zidane, there’s Miguel Muñoz, the man who gave his heart for Real Madrid and led them to arguably their greatest decades. First, we will briefly talk about his magic as a player for the Los Blancos, and then we’ll move up to his dominance as their coach!
Miguel Muñoz was born in the Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid on January 19, 1922. His father worked as a tailor, and Miguel spent much of his boyhood as his apprentice. The best part of his day was when he managed to sneak away to play football.
Following his passion, he went to become a professional football player and joined the sides of Logroñés. In 5 years, he switched several teams, making transfers first to Racing Santander and finally to Celta Vigo in 1946, right before the turning point of his career.
Miguel Muñoz Joining Real Madrid
Together with the great Pahiño, they managed to help Los Celestes finish 4th in La Liga and play in the Copa del Generalísimo final, where Miguel scored in a 1-4 defeat against Sevilla. That opened the possibility for them to be noticed by soon to be the best club in history. Both players joined the Whites in the 1948-49 season, setting the beginning of the Original Galácticos era!
Playing alongside players like Di Stéfano, Marquitos, and Rial, Miguel managed to win 4 La Liga titles, 3 European Cups, and 2 Copa Latina ones. His most iconic moment for the club is scoring their first-ever European goal in the dying moments of their match against Servette in 1955.
Moving Into Coaching
At the end of season 1957/1958, at 36 years old, he retired as their captain, winning 3 European Cups back to back. He kept his good ties with Real Madrid and first coached Plus Ultra (their second team, known today as Real Madrid Castilla) before beginning his 14 years old spell with the first team. Could he repeat his success?
Barcelona was on route for a second consecutive victory when Muñoz took control, and they were favorites to break Real’s European dominance of 4 successive Cups. The teams met in the semi-final, with Madrid winning 6-2 on aggregate to advance to the historic final at Hampden. Real won 7-3 over Frankfurt with four goals from Puskas and a hat-trick from Di Stefano, showing the real attacking power of the Muñoz side.
Miguel Muñoz became the first coach to win the European Cup as a player and a manager by collecting Madrid’s fifth European Cup. A feed that was later repeated by greats such as Johan Cruyff, Carlo Ancelotti, Zinedine Zidane, Frank Rijkaard, and Pep Guardiola.
During the golden period of 1955-60, Madrid has switched between 7 coaches, but after the final, Muñoz was entrusted with the first-team duty for good, and he more than lived up to the expectation. Los Blancos have won La Liga five times in a row, making them the only team in history to do so (a feed that is yet to be broke).
For his 16 seasons in charge of the club, he collected 2 European Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cups, 9 La Ligas, and 2 Copa de Españas.
How Many Trophies Did Miguel Muñoz Win
Miguel is Real’s most decorated coach with 14 trophies with a looping 352 wins in 595 games (59.16% win ratio). That’s the sum of the three coaches after him (José Mourinho, Vicente del Bosque & Leo Beenhakker) who have 362 wins combined during their reigns over Real.
Madrid’s collapse was becoming apparent outside Europe, despite its lack of visibility at home. Barcelona avenged their previous year’s defeat by overcoming Madrid to reach their first-ever final in 1961. Real returned to the final in 1962 but were defeated 5-2 by Eusébio’s Benfica. The following season, they were particularly humiliated, losing in the preliminary round against Anderlecht.
Real Madrid Watershed Moment
The year 1964 was a watershed moment in the club’s history and Miguel Muñoz’s managerial career. Madrid had once again advanced to the European Cup final, where they would meet Inter Milan. Muñoz was infatuated with Inter full-back Giacinto Facchetti. He set up his team to oppose the Italian’s barrage of offensive runs, despite significant opposition from the club.
Real lost 3-1 because Facchetti did not break during the game. Since Miguel took over, tensions had been building among him and the crucial players of the team. Despite initially pushing Bernabéu to recruit Muñoz, Di Stéfano became his harshest critic following the 1964 final defeat.
During the final, there was an infamous moment midway through the game when Muñoz instructed Di Stefano to “f**k off” according to the player. Di Stefano recalled that at that moment, he found out the real personality of Muñoz.
Rebuilding Real Madrid
Miguel Muñoz was given the monumental task of rebuilding the team with new, younger players that would fill out the shoes of their predecessors. That, combined with the Spanish Football Federation’s two-year restriction on foreign player transfers, made recruitment more challenging than ever.
The enormous emotional burden and the formidable challenges of Miguel made him want to leave the team, but his resignation was rejected. This increased the tension between the manager and the directors, and he went to do whatever he wanted. He benched Di Stefano against Atletico Madrid the following season without explaining why.
Stuck into the position, Muñoz decided to do the job and slowly build a team of young promising players. Amanico Amaro and Ignacio Zoco joined potential academy products Manuel Valáquez, Pedro de Felipe, and Ramón Grosso, who had arrived from Deportivo and Osasuna two years previously. Muoz added Pirri from Granada in 1964.
Real destroyed two of the past’s ghosts in 1966’s European campaign, Anderlecht in the quarterfinals and Inter in the semis. In the final, they faced Partizan Belgrade, who took an early lead before Madrid fought back, with Amanico, the semi-final hero, equalizing before Fernando Serena scored the winner six minutes later.
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Miguel Muñoz Greatest Achievement
It was Muoz’s crowning achievement and Madrid’s most stunning cup victory to date. Real was thought to be out of the race against their European opponents. Helenio Herrera, Inter’s manager, and a long-time rival, had booked Inter’s hotel for the final before the semi-final versus Real. “Madrid was resurrected!” he asserted.
Miguel Muñoz went to coach several other Spanish sides. He spent six years with the Spanish national team before retiring in 1988. Unfortunately, Muoz died two years after leaving his post in Spain, in July 1990, at the age of 68. In Madrid’s La Almundena cemetery, he was laid to rest draped in the team’s flag he adored. He was awarded the gold medal of sporting merit a week after his death.
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