Wearing the colours of two different teams is a treacherous and often traitorous line to tread in Madrid. As a fan you’re either a Madridsta or a Rojiblanco, a Blanco or an Indio, not both. But some players have made that switch from Real to Atletico and vice versa. Some have proved to be successful at both, some less successful and a select few haunted by their former employers in one way or another.
Monchin Triana and Luis Olaso
Unhappy with the political stance of then-named Athletic Club de Madrid, Triana became the first man to cross the city divide when he joined Real Madrid in 1928. The midfielder’s move was followed by Athletic captain Luis Olaso the year after as well as other players concerned by the Athletic board. Triana and Olaso had been mainstays in the Athletic side that had won three regional championships during the 1920s. Their telling contributions were replicated for Los Blancos as they won a further four regional titles before becoming part of the first team to win a newly-formed La Liga.
One man who enjoyed fruitful spells at both clubs was Prudencio Sanchez Fernandez, or Pruden. The striker started his career at local club Salamanca in 1934, winning promotion to the Segunda Division. Meanwhile, Francisco Franco’s regime was changing Spanish football. With Franco’s intention of Madrid’s football clubs being linked with areas of his army, Athletic Club de Madrid became Atletico Aviacion after the air force.
Pruden went onto win the La Liga title with Atletico in 1942, scoring 33 goals to win the Pichichi as the league’s top scorer. After another two years at Salamanca, he returned to the capital to join Madrid Football Club, stripped of their Real title by Franco. Pruden didn’t manage a La Liga triumph at Charmatin but did win two Copa del Generalismos (renamed after the dictator), scoring in both finals against Valencia and Espanyol.
Perhaps the most high-profile player to play for both clubs is Hugo Sanchez. The Mexican joined Atletico in 1981, six years after the end of Franco’s dictatorship, from UNAM in Mexico City. Five years and 80 goals later, Sanchez had made a name for himself in Europe and was considered as one of top strikers in Spain. His double in the 1985 Copa del Rey final against Athletic Club secured his first trophy for the Rojiblancos and the club’s first in eight years. However, Real Madrid were in a trophy-draught of their own having not won La Liga for five years.
They wanted Sanchez and did all in their power to get him. To avoid uproar from the Atletico fans, the striker was sold back to UNAM before joining Real Madrid almost immediately after, signing the contract in Mexico City in 1985. Sanchez followed his Pichichi trophy from his last season at the Vicente Calderon with four more as he fired Los Blancos to four consecutive La Liga titles in a team that included Emilio Butragueno and Martin Vazquez. His goal tally of 38 during the 1989/90 season wasn’t bettered by anyone in Spain until Cristiano Ronaldo scored 40 during the 2010/11 campaign. Particularly famous for his overhead kicks or ‘chilenas’, you’ve probably seen his stunning strike against Logrones before.
The right-back isn’t known for his time at Real Madrid, making just six league appearances for them after promotion from the club’s youth teams. Five years after he left the Bernabeu, Juanfran rocked up at Atletico Madrid as one of Diego Simeone’s first signings since taking over. The tenacious defender was a stalwart during one of the most successful spells in Atletico’s history, winning La Liga in 2014.
Two painful Champions League final defeats to his old club in 2014 and 2016 remain particularly painful and especially vivid for Juanfran. Angel Di Maria managed to wriggle past him in the build-up to Gareth Bale’s goal in extra time in Lisbon that put Carlo Ancelotti’s side ahead. In Milan, it was his penalty that came back off the post and gifted Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to win the final for Real Madrid in the shoot-out. Ronaldo’s shirt-ripping celebrations and Juanfran’s tears are the pertaining pictures from that night.
On Saturday, Alvaro Morata follows in the footsteps of these pivotal names in the derby’s history. He’ll be looking to stick the ball past former Chelsea teammate and ex-Atletico player Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal.