By 90Min
July 25, 2019

Miguel Muñoz is number 17 in 90min's Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next four weeks.


It seems strange that the greatest manager in the history of Real Madrid football club - the biggest and best football club in the history of the sport - is not really very well known outside of Madrid.

Hell, there's not even any pictures of him in Getty's image bank.

Regardless of the majority of his era pre-dating the colour TV, his status in football canon falls well below the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and the other icons of the day.

A chunky, barrel-chested midfielder with a broad face and shock of dark (even in black and white images) hair, Muñoz spent his early years featuring for Celta Vigo and Logroñes in post Civil War Spain of the 1940s before earning a move to his hometown club of Real Madrid.

Those were the days before the Galacticos and Muñoz joined a side teasing the relegation zone before the arrival of near-mythical heroes like Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Paco Gento who lifted them to the apex of the sport.

Muñoz dealt well with the rapid rise to the top, scoring Madrid's first-ever goal in Europe in a 2-0 win over Swiss side Servette FC in 1955. It was the first of many notable moments in continental competition for the stocky, engine-room operator.


Career Honours
La Liga (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972)
Copa del Rey (1962, 1970)
European Cup (1960, 1966)
Intercontinental Cup (1960)

He won the newly designed tournament for Europe's best three times on the spin, twice wearing the captain's armband, before retiring in 1958 aged 36.

Real Madrid kept up the domination without him, winning the European Cup for the fourth time straight in 1959. However, manager Luis Carniglia was sacked (in part for leaving Puskas out of the starting lineup in the final) and, after a brief interlude under Manuel Fleitas Solich, back came Muñoz to lead his former teammates from the bench.

With the all-conquering Madrid in danger of being dethroned by up-and-coming rivals Barcelona - much to the dismay of ruling dictator Franco - Muñoz oversaw a 6-2 aggregate win over the Catalans in the European Cup semi-final (Puskas scored three in the two legs) before an astonishing 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 final in front of a stunned audience in Glasgow.

Frankfurt had put Rangers out of the competition in the semis with 12-4 aggregate score, but were pummelled to dust by Muñoz's ultra attacking fleet, with Puskas bagging four and Di Stefano scoring a hat-trick.

Just think of the memes had that had happened in 2019.

Madrid's fifth in a row was also marked the first time someone had won the tournament as a player and a manager - an achievement later matched only by (bonus points if you can guess without looking) Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cruyff, Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane.

Armed with some of the finest talent of the day, Muñoz recaptured the league title from Barça in 1961 after going on a two-year drought (the horror) and then won it five times on the spin. Letting others have glory was not the Real Madrid way.

However, while the league was all well and good, the standard had been set in Europe and, just as it is over 50 years later, the obsession for Santiago Bernanbeu (then an actual person rather than a stadium) and the other club chiefs was Europe.

In 1961, Madrid went out to Barcelona in the semis (gasp), while 1962 saw Muñoz's attacking entertainers outgunned by a Eusebio-led Benfica in the final. A more conservative approach still saw Los Blancos bested at the final hurdle two years on in Vienna, as Helenio Herrera's Inter out-tacticed (to use a Sam Allardyce-ism) Muñoz and co.

It was four years since Real had won five in a row. That wouldn't do. Di Stefano was among Muñoz's most vocal critics, with the two famously exchanging unpleasantries during the 1964 final defeat.

"Muñoz told me to fuck off and they kicked me out of the club because I told him to fuck off back.” Di Stefano recalled as he slunk off to Espanyol at the age of 38.

Being told (mid-game) to fuck off probably wasn't the sendoff one of the greatest footballers of all time player deserved but in a way it was the start of a transition the club needed.

Puskas and Gento stuck around for the transition period but other old heads were bundled off into the sunset. In came exciting talents like Amancio Amaro, Ignacio Zoco and Pirri and Muñoz helped turn them into superstars, proving his worth as a coach rather than just a figurehead for football's Harlem Globetrotters.

Muñoz's youngsters with their long, messy hair and smiles rather than the Brylcreem look and furrowed brows of their predecessors earned them the nickname of the Yé-Yé team - a moniker taken from the chorus of the Beatles song 'She Loves You' (yeah yeah yeah) to refer to their youthful 'hippy' appearance. Think Liverpool's Spice Boys...only better, much much better.


Teams Managed Years
Plus Ultra 1959-1960
Real Madrid 1959-1974
Spain 1960-1961
Granada 1975-1976
Las Palmas 1977-1979
Sevilla  1979-1981
Spain 1982-1988

By 1966, Madrid were back in the European Cup final, having exorcised the ghosts of Inter by dumping Herrera's side out 2-1 on aggregate in the semis.

Legend has it that Inter - winners of the previous two finals - had booked team hotel for the final in Brussels before even facing Real.

Facing Partizan Belgrade, Madrid went one down in the final but were not to be stopped. This was not the swashbuckling superstar-laden juggernaut of 1960 (although Puskas and Gento were still around) but there was a steel, experience and hurt under the messy fringes of Muñoz's Yé-Yé's that was not to be stopped.

Amancio and Fernando Serena scored second-half goals as the reinvented Real Madrid reclaimed the golden years and put themselves back on the top of the European pile, adding to the high of an addiction that future generations would struggle to satiate.

The European Cup and impossible standards are synonymous with Real Madrid. Few people are more responsible for that fact than Miguel Muñoz.


Number 50: Marcelo Bielsa - El Loco's Journey From Argentina to Footballing Immortality in Europe

Number 49: Vic Buckingham - How an Englishman Discovered Johan Cruyff & Pioneered Total Football

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: A Ridiculed Tinkerman Who Masterminded One of Football's Greatest Ever Achievements

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: Mr Tottenham Hotspur, the First Double Winning Manager of the 20th Century

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Scudetto Winning Shagger Who Never Solved the Lampard-Gerrard Conundrum

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The Man Behind the 'Wingless Wonders' & England's Sole World Cup Triumph

Number 44: Antonio Conte: An Astute Tactician Whose Perfectionist Philosophy Reinvented the 3-5-2 Wheel

Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The Beacon of Light in Liverpool's Darkest Hour

Number 42: Massimiliano Allegri: The Masterful Tactician Who Won Serie A Five Times in a Row

Number 41: Sir Bobby Robson: A Footballing Colossus Whose Fighting Spirit Ensured an Immortal Legacy

Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain's Most Important Manager, the Atleti Rock and the Modern Father of Tiki-Taka

Number 39: Herbert Chapman: One of Football's Great Innovators & Mastermind Behind the 'W-M' Formation

Number 38: Carlos Alberto Parreira: The International Specialist Who Never Shied Away From a Challenge

Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: The German Giant Whose Playing Career Overshadowed His Managerial Genius

Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Soviet Pioneer of the 4-4-2 & the Innovator of Pressing

Number 35: Rafa Benitez: The Conquerer of La Liga Who Masterminded That Comeback in Istanbul

Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: Cataloguing the Frenchman's Transition From Midfield Magician to Managerial Maestro

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: How the Enigmatic 'Big Phil' Succeeded as Much as He Failed on the Big Stage

Number 32: Jupp Heynckes: The Legendary Manager Who Masterminded 'the Greatest Bayern Side Ever'

Number 31: Vicente del Bosque: The Unluckiest Manager in the World Who Led Spain to Immortality

Number 30: Arsene Wenger: A Pioneering Who Became Invincible at Arsenal

Number 29: Udo Lattek: The Bundesliga Icon Who Shattered European Records

Number 28: Jock Stein: The Man Who Guided Celtic to Historic Heights & Mentored Sir Alex Ferguson

Number 27: Vittorio Pozzo: Metodo, Mussolini, Meazza & the Difficult Memory of a Two-Time World Cup Winner

Number 26: Jurgen Klopp: The Early Years at Mainz 05 Where He Sealed His 'Greatest Achievement'

Number 25:Mario Zagallo: Habitual World Cup Winner & Sculptor of Brazil's Joga Bonito Era

Number 24: Bela Guttmann: The Dance Instructor Who Changed Football Forever (and Managed...Just Everyone)

Number 23: Valeriy Lobanovskyi: The Scientist Who Dominated Football in the Soviet Union

Number 22: Louis van Gaal: The Stubborn Master Who Won 15 Major Trophies at 4 of the World's Greatest Clubs

Number 21: Otto Rehhagel: The 'King' Who Turned 150/1 Greek Outsiders into Champions of Europe

Number 20: Tele Santana: The 'Joga Bonito' Icon Who Helped Brazil Rediscover Their Love of Football

Number 19: Bill Shankly: The Innovative Motivator Who Rebuilt Liverpool From the Ground Up

Number 18: Ottmar Hitzfeld: The Manager Who Won Absolutely Everything at Germany's 2 Biggest Clubs

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