One evening in April 1957 the National Club of Montevideo received a letter from the President of Real Madrid CF, Mr. Santiago Bernabeu, where he explained he sought my move to play at this club for four years. Mr. Santiago Bernabeu had followed my career since he saw me play with the Uruguayan national team during the World Cup in Switzerland in 1954. In that way the negotiations for my transfer to Real Madrid began. Since at that time communications were very slow, the final agreement was not signed until two weeks before the final of the European Cup Real Madrid played against Fiorentina at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. The Real Madrid won, and the title represented the second of the five consecutive that allowed him to be the only club that has the ownership of this Cup.


With the support of my wife Nora and with the first of my seven children already born, I moved to Spain on May 25, 1957, inaugurating my time as a player of Real Madrid.

This period was wonderful in all aspects, both sporting and social. As a player, I contributed with my colleagues to take shape which is considered one of the most successful stages of this club. Here we get to be champions of League Cup, European Cup and Intercontinental Cup on several occasions, in addition to countless summer tournaments in Spain and abroad.

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I joined a team dotted with stars, playing as a midfielder to move quickly to the demarcation of central defender. From my first step, and without being an exhaustive list at all, I dedicate a memorial to my fellow Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento, Kopa, Rial etc. , All wonderful players and excellent companions. I also dedicate a memorial to another generation of great players who prolonged the tradition of success of Real Madrid such as Amancio, Del Sol, Souk, Pirri, Velazquez, Pachín, De Felipe and Miera. My thanks to all of them and to other colleagues for allowing me to participate in this golden age of Real Madrid and world soccer in general.

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Of the countless games I played I want to mention three of them that are etched in my memory:

The first was the Intercontinental Cup in 1960 where we won the team that had been my lifelong rival when I was a player at Nacional, the Peñarol of Montevideo. In the return match we played in the Bernabeu, we started with a very strong pace and 10 minutes later we led by 3-0 and had crashed three balls at the post, leaving almost sentenced the game from the first minute.

The second was the third European Cup we played against Milan. They were coming with high expectations of winning and the game was very even until the end of the game. We finished the 90 minutes with a score of 2 even. During the extensión, Rial scored the victory.

The third was the final of the 5th European Cup against the Eintrach Frankfurt at the stadium in Glasgow. The Eintrach was a very young team that within minutes we scored a goal from the side. But the team did not surrender and we scored 7 goals that gave us the victory through 7 to 3. As an example of the prevailing discipline in the club at the time I remember the celebration, which consisted of biscuits and orange juice as it was intended players should stay fresh and available from the day following the match.


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It eventually remain to mention my satisfaction at having been player of the Spanish National Team. This constituted for me a special pride and for my parents one of the greatest joys due to its Spanish origins. This way I could defend the colors of the two countries that I consider myself a citizen, Uruguay and Spain.

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For the lovers of dates and statistics I include the following achievements:

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Personally, during this time I formed a beautiful family of 7 children and 13 grandchildren that remains today united and happy.

In the social sphere, I’m not conditioned here by my “madridista” feeling, joining a club that is internationally recognized as one of the best clubs in the world, pushed me to achieve popularity letting me know and even make friends with people from various sectors of society,   friendship that  in many cases I continue enjoying today.

In short, and as is clear from what I have told this was a time of happiness and fulfillment both in sports and in the personal and social. However, and especially for those of us in professional sports over time leads inexorably to the time of withdrawal from the competition. This time went for me in 1966, thus inaugurating a new step in my life.

José Emílio Santamaria