They may not have won what Zidane, Figo and Ronaldo did during their careers or have people drool over them as much as the aforementioned trio, but they were still outrageously talented players. As part of a new series, we assess the careers of superb players who scaled the heights, if not quite reaching the top of the mountain. Here, talkSPORT looks at Fernando Redondo.
Listen, the man won two Champions Leagues in three years at Real Madrid and another with Milan, on top of league titles in Spain and Italy. But the point is that there should have been more. A lot more.
He played in a quality Argentina side at USA ’94 with Diego Maradona , Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Simeone . However, Maradona was expelled for failing a drugs test and Romania eliminated them in the last 16, putting an end to any hopes of World Cup glory.
Redondo actually only played 29 times for his country as a result of injury and, at one time, for refusing Daniel Passarella’s bizarre demand that he cut his hair – to be fair, it was a barnet worthy of a L’Oréal advert, so why would he?
But then again, he did always dance to his own beat. His upbringing didn't involve the rags-to-riches tale so often associated with South American footballers and he once even politely declined to play in a friendly for Argentina in order to sit a law exam. An incredulous Maradona said he could never forgive him for it.
Then there are the individual accolades Redondo didn't win, like the European Footballer of the Year. Luis Figo won the Ballon d'Or in 2000 with 46 votes, followed closely by Zinedine Zidane on 43. Redondo, meanwhile, blessed with equally outrageous talent, collected just three votes.
Remember, this was the year he was crucial to Real Madrid's Champions League success where, en route, a moment of brilliance against Man United is still recycled regularly across various social media channels.
Facing the touchline on the left hand side of the pitch, he ghosted past Henning Berg with a clever nut meg, creating room for himself to surge into the box and set up Raul for a tap in during a 3-2 win. It was a thing of beauty.
Cuando Fernando Redondo era el jefe del medio campo del Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/8d6izJ6Ppo — adnblanco (@adnblanco_) 31 January 2018
Fergie wondered if Redondo had magnets in his boots.
He was a God in midfield and things ran through him. “Tactically perfect”, is what Fabio Capello , one of his coaches at Real Madrid, said about him, while a young Xabi Alonso idolised him. Yep, Redondo effortlessly combined elegance and aggression – as an Argentina international, you'd expect nothing else.
His boss at Tenerife, Jorge Valdano, loved him so much that when he took the reigns at the Bernabeu he is said to have insisted on bringing Redondo with him. Fans grew to love him and Redondo spent six years at Real where he won two Champions Leagues in three years, but despite all that, the love affair ended in unpleasant circumstances thanks to newly-elected president Florentino Perez.
A month after that second European triumph in 2000, Perez sold him to Milan for £11.25m. He didn't want to go and supporters were devastated because he was untouchable in their minds.
Claude Makelele likened replacing Redondo at Real to playing with a Molotov cocktail at his feet in reference to the numerous signs around the Bernabeu begging for his predecessor’s return. "Redondo is Madrid" they told their president in a demonstration outside the stadium following the sale. One banner even read: "We won't swap Figo for Redondo."
His talent was definitely enough to cement a place in a Milan side alongside Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso, but an awful knee injury sustained shortly after joining ensured his career would never recover.
Redondo didn't make his debut for two years and despite the club winning the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia during his time there, he played just a handful of games.
Yet despite all this, he is still fondly remembered in San Siro, helped by the fact he asked to forego his salary (around £2.5m a year) until he regained full fitness. "Fernando is an incredible man, as well as an extraordinary player," Milan director Adriano Galliani gushed, as he presumably thought of the money the club would save.
Just imagine what a fit Fernando Redondo would have achieved.
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