Remembering Fernando Redondo, the legendary Argentinian midfielderBeing a midfielder is one of the most demanding roles in the game of football. It requires a lot of movement, learning to read the game, positioning, passing, tracking back, and a lot more. It is one of the most important positions in the game and there are very few players that can do it while boasting an element of elegance and class. Fernando Redondo was that kind of player.
The Argentinian maestro was mostly known in the world of football during the nineties when he won everything with Spanish colossus Real Madrid, but there were a lot of interesting facts about Redondo's career and the sadness of how he ended up retiring. So this is Redondo and this is his journey through football.
Real Madrid - one of the clubs Redondo played for
Beginnings in ArgentinaFernando Redondo was born in Adrogué, Argentina, on June 6 of 1969. It was a province of Buenos Aires, the country's capital, and young Fernando quickly started to get into football, ending up in the mid-seventies in the youth setup of Argentinos Juniors, a club with arguably the best academy in the entire country.
One of the most notorious aspects of Redondo's early days in Argentinian football was how young he was when he made his debut. He was only sixteen years old and he was already making a name for himself in one of the most demanding leagues in South American football, with a lot of European teams showing an interest in signing him.
Perhaps it was a good decision that he remained for five years with Argentinos because it allowed him to grow and mature as a player before making the leap to Europe. Redondo has always been known to be a very well-read person and was even studying law in college during these early days, which goes to show the kind of individual that he was.
However, by the summer of 1990, Redondo decided to go to Spain and start his journey in European football.
Tenerife and Real MadridFernando Redondo was signed by Tenerife, a small club from La Liga, and that was probably one of the best decisions her ever made for his career. Spanish football was tailor-made for the Argentinian as his silky passing and technical playing style could blossom and that he did, which was also thanks to having a compatriot as a coach in Jorge Solari.
However, it would be in 1992, when another compatriot, Jorge Valdano, took over as manager that Redondo would begin to really show what he is made of. Valdano turned Tenerife into a great team that played really appealing football and was one of the best teams for the neutrals at the time, which also led to them taking the league title away from Real Madrid and to Barcelona in the final days of the season twice in a row.
All of this led to Valdano signing for Madrid as their manager as he already had history with them as a player in the eighties. Redondo would follow suit in 1994, after a solid World Cup in the United States with Argentina, and the remainder of the decade would prove to be Fernando's prime as a footballer, becoming one of the best in the world in his position.
Real Madrid is a special club. It requires a special personality to thrive there. Redondo has gone on record saying that his early days at the club were not easy and that he even got booed by the Santiago Bernabeu faithful. However, it is a testament to his character that he managed to overcome that and became a key cog in the Madrid machinery, regardless of who the manager was.
He would go on to win two La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions League trophies while being club captain in the one they won in the 1999/2000 season, which also happens to be his last with Los Blancos. By that time, Redondo had cemented himself as one of the most important players in the club and was praised for what he provided to the club in terms of passing, vision, technique, and leadership.
Things, though, do come to an end. The Argentinian had shown his support in the 2000 elections for the Real Madrid president position to the current holder of the role, Lorenzo Sanz, and since the other candidate, Florentino Perez, won said election, Redondo, as a matter of principle, decided to leave the club, which led to him signing for Italian giants AC Milan in the summer of 2000.
That, sadly enough, was not going to work for Redondo in Italy.
AC Milan and retirementRedondo's time in Milan was problematic even before he arrived there. He had stated that he didn't want to leave, which contradicted his support for Sanz during the election, and there were even fan protests outside the Real Madrid stadium asking for him to stay.
Be that as it may, Redondo would ultimately sign for AC Milan for 11 million euros that summer. However, he would end up having a major issue with this period of his career: injuries.
The former Real Madrid player would suffer a knee injury during his first training sessions, keeping him from playing with his new club for two years. And when he came back, he could barely play because he was hampered by other injuries. Yes, he played a few minutes in the team's successful UEFA Champions League campaign in the 2002/03 season and did likewise in the Scudetto they won in the 2003/04 season, but he didn't have a lot of influence in that success.
There was even a story that Redondo refused to get his salary during the two initial years he couldn't play because of the knee injury and wanted to give back the house and car the club had given him, which goes to show the kind of man he is.
All in all, Fernando Redondo was one of the best Real Madrid players of the nineties and one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, which is why he deserves a lot more recognition.