in the mood for a remontada
Santillana is synonymous with remontadas, having participated in some of Madrid’s most famous ones during the 1980s. AS interviewed him after the Borussia Dortmund game. If you don’t believe that Madrid will make it to the final on Tuesday, you might change your mind after reading this, because you will understand what players wearing the escudo of Madrid are capable of.
How did the legend of the remontadas start?
With the game against Derby County in the 1975-76 season. We lost 4-1 there and in the Bernabéu we matched this result, the game went into overtime and we scored another goal. That’s when the remontada began to mean something, and it was with the support of the public. Around 120,000 people fit in the Bernabéu and they made you leave your soul out there. We pressured up above, we made hard tackles because back then the referees let you do so… and no matter whether we played well or poorly, we were able to tell the rival, “here we are!”
Let’s talk about your goals.
I was 23 years old. It was super special. I scored the third goal, from a free fick that Netzer took really quickly. I stretched out as much as I could to connect with the ball using my head.
And the goal that gave us the win, it was fantastic, it took place in the overtime. The best goal I’ve scored in my life. It was from a pass from Del Bosque. I stopped it with my chest, and without letting it fall, I did a sombrero to a defender and I volleyed it with my left foot. You can’t imagine the reaction!
It was the most electrifying game that I remember. Around that time, (Manuel) Fraga had a disagreement with the English government over Gibraltar. And the atmosphere was charged. The fans are vital in these types of games. With their help, we can turn things around.
In the 1980s, the remontadas almost became a custom…
We had a lot of confidence in the Bernabéu. What Borussia did to us in Dortmund is what we have to do here. And why won’t we score three or four on them? I’m a fan of Madrid as it was before. When we lost by a lot during away games, we began planning the comeback while in the shower. Before, there was Amancio, Pirri, Velázquez… then came Juanito, Camacho, Stielike, San José and me. The courage and anger we had made us react. I scored in all of the remontadas except for one, the 6-1 against Anderlecht. That was a rare thing (laughs).
How did you all do it?
We had a great team. The wings were wide open with Míchel and Gordillo, who gave us good crosses, there were people like Valdano and me who played well with our heads, and to make walls in the center we had Buitre with Míchel or Martín Vazquéz or before that Juanito… we had quality, and that’s what we have now with Benzema, Özil and Cristiano. Who played well in Dortmund? Lewandowski, Götze, Reus and Gündoğan… those players who needed to play well. That’s why they beat us. Strength and quality. Now it’s Madrid’s turn to take a risk.
We had two remontadas against Inter, no?
Well, I don’t even know the number of times we played against them. We were almost friends. They had Baresi’s brother, Rummenigge, Altobelli, Bergomi… great players. During the 1984-85 UEFA Cup semifinals, with the 2-0 first leg in Milan and the 3-0 in Madrid, I scored the first two goals and then we beat Videoton for the title. And in the 1985-86 semifinals, which were a 3-1 in Milan and then a 5-1 overtime in the Bernabéu, I scored the last two goals. Hugo (Sánchez) had forced the game into overtime.
When did Juanito say that about the “90 minuti…”?
(Laughs) It was during the 1985-86 UEFA Cup semifinals, the one that went 3-1 and then 5-1 in overtime. You know that in San Siro, there is a very long hallway between the field and the locker room, it’s at least 50 meters long. Both teams were there, and the rival players were laughing. And Juanito, who had a lot of class and the same amount of anger as everyone else, went up to them and told them, “wait a minute, 90 minutes in the Bernabéu are very long.” And he said it in a perfect “Spanish-Italian…”
Did he lead those remontadas?
It’s what is now called the espíritu de Juanito, no? It was simply saying to the others, “we’re going to pressure, we’re going to do things…” He was especially active, like Camacho and I, who were the captains. But Juan was the one who had the temperament.
During the 1985-86 UEFA Cup, there was also another epic elimination round against Mönchengladbach…
That one for me is without a doubt the most emotional. We had lost 5-1 in Germany and we won 4-0 at home.
The stadium was on the verge of exploding. We needed a goal, and I scored in the last minute. Imagine 120,000 people screaming. I still say that it was the public who scored that goal.
It was a dead ball that ended up in the area after a throw in. There was confusion. Don’t ask me how I scored it. I had scored the third goal, which was a beautiful one, a volley.
How did you celebrate it?
It was crazy. Everyone jumped on top of me. The 4-0 in the last minute after the 5-1. This is what has to happen on Tuesday! That game created many fans. You know, it’s been a long time since German football has done to us what it did on Tuesday and Wednesday. During my time, they were much stronger than us physically. Now, we have evolved, thanks to God (laughs).
How should Madrid play on Tuesday?
The team should remain calm no matter what. They can’t let it get to them, because Borussia has great players and they can score a goal in any moment. The union between the public and the players will be there. But the players have to have the right attitude to get the public behind them. Then they can play well or poorly, but by pressuring there will be possibilities. I mean psychological and physical pressure.
What Valdano called “stage fright.”
Hombre, in my time, they knew that they would suffer in the Bernabéu. I’m sure that Borussia Dortmund is thinking that. And if the Germans come in without fear, well that’s bad for them, because I’m convinced that Real Madrid can win the round if they lose their concentration.
For those of you who are new fans, Santillana is a nickname. Carlos Alonso is his real name, and he got his nickname from his hometown, Santillana de Mar (Cantabria). He’s one of Real Madrid’s greats and a legend.