Monday Musings: Unheralded Hero – The story of Ivan Helguera’s comeback in 2006-2007


Matt’s Monday Musings: A series with no rhyme or reason, just coherent thoughts about everything real Madrid released every Monday. Some weeks can be long, others just brief anecdotal thoughts. Either way, I’ll be posting thoughtful content about the club’s current, past, and future activities:

It’s that time of year, the quiet period, where players go on much-needed vacations and fans have to wait for preseason to return. During this period, the Management Madrid team will often review the archives and watch Real Madrid matches from the past. In fact, there is a segment on the Managing Madrid podcast that has been dubbed “the historical segment”, and it dates back to the 1960s. One thing that always strikes me about watching old Real Madrid games is the players from the ones I’ve never heard of; the unannounced heroes. The players who often do the “dirty work” for the team, those who clearly stand out but are rarely mentioned when talking about teams of the past. These are players who are remembered by those who lived through the season, but are overlooked in high-level summaries for the new generation of Madridistas. There are countless names that could stand out, but Geremi, Savio, Quique Sánchez Flores, Gallego and Canario are among some of those discussed in previous podcast episodes as underrated standouts.

This made me think of some of the unannounced players from Real Madrid’s triumphs in 2006, 2007 and 2012. In future editions of the Monday reflectionsOne player from the aforementioned La Liga titles will be highlighted, this week we start with the famous 2006-2007 title under Fabio Capello:

2006 – 2007: Ivan Helguera

Despite playing at a high level in the Madrid colors for almost a decade, often alternating between midfield and defensive midfield as the team needed, Helguera’s legacy and tenure meant nothing to Pedja. Mijatovic (then sports director) and Ramón Calderón (the president after Florentino’s first reign). In an attempt by the club to force his exit, Ivan Helguera was stripped of his number 6 shirt, instead given to Capello’s priority signing Mahamadou Diarra, and was forced to train with the youth team at the start of the season. . Despite the unwarranted treatment, where the veteran defender was not even included in the first seven teams on the day, Helguera put his head down and got to work, seeking to convince Capello and company of the value he could still bring to Real Madrid.


Fabio Capello quickly realized that he had a problem on the right side. Michel Salgado was no longer the agile, two-way winger he once was and La Liga’s speedy wingers aged him with every passing game. Cicinho, who was a Brazilian winger who had technical quality and offensive sense, but failed to stay in shape and could not maintain his performance off the pitch. Cicinho, years later, revealed to BRAND who had a serious drinking problem at Real Madrid. Thus, the Italian coach, renowned for his defensive tactics, the same man who had the gall to pull out a Diarra-Emerson double pivot while playing at the Santiago Bernabéu, had to find a solution to the four problems behind him. Finally, Sergio Ramos was moved from center to right back and Helguera returned to the fold.

The then 31-year-old Spaniard built a strong relationship with Fabio Cannavaro, 34, at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. In February, Real Madrid were 8 points behind leaders Barcelona in La Liga, but managed to bounce back and secure one of the most epic La Liga titles in the club’s history. Players like Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robinho, Guti, Casillas or Sergio Ramos garnered much of the applause that season, but Helguera was a key player in LaLiga’s turnaround and was a determined defender, especially in both games (home and away). . ) against Barcelona.

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Ivan Helguera was never one of the “sexy” names that excited fans or struck fear into the hearts of the opposition, but his role and consistency were vital to a winning team. He worked his way into Capello’s starting XI despite being exiled earlier in the season. These unannounced heroes are critical to the success of winning titles and deserve their due credit.