Fernando Morientes became an almost instant Champions League hero with Real Madrid in 1998 as he helped the Spanish giants win their first European Cup in 32 years.
With Madrid facing Juventus in this year’s final in Cardiff, it brings back happy memories for Morientes, who was part of the Madrid team that beat Juve 19 years ago.
The forward had only arrived in the capital from Zaragoza at the start of the season, but by the end of the campaign was celebrating Champions League success thanks to their 1-0 win over the Italians in Amsterdam.
And, despite not having tasted European Cup joy since 1966, the victory took the trophy to the Bernabeu for the seventh time.
“It was very special,” recalls Morientes, who will be back in action in July as he represents Spain at Star Sixes, the new six-a-side tournament for ex-internationals that will be staged at London’s O2 Arena. (Get your tickets here – Ticketmaster or AXS.)
“For me, because it was my first year playing for Real Madrid and for the team because it was the first Champions League trophy in a very long time, it was very special”
“It meant so much because the supporters were waiting a long time for it.”
It would be the first of three Champions League titles that Morientes would collect with Real Madrid, and lining up alongside him in all three finals was Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos, who will also be representing his country at Star Sixes.
He went on to net in the 3-0 win over Valencia in the 2000 final, with another Star Sixer, Michel Salgado, in the side. Meanwhile, another of his teammates for their 2002 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen, and scorer in the final in Glasgow, was current Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
And Morientes has been impressed by the Frenchman’s impact since taking the reins last year as he now leads the club in a second successive Champions League final.
“He had a brutal impact in the club as a manager,” says the former Liverpool forward, who was cup-tied for the Reds’ European Cup victory in 2005.
“He was one of the best players of the club history, he’s someone who is trustworthy, who knows the club, the profession, knows perfectly the daily routine of the players.”
See Morientes, Carlos and Salgado, along with many other Champions League winners, at Star Sixes which takes place at The O2 Arena from Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 July. Get tickets from Ticketmaster or AXS.