Up until Jose Mourinho arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu, Jorge Valdano had been one of Florentino Perez’s closest allies in his two periods as Real Madrid president. However, the bad relationship between the Portuguese and the Argentinian caused the club to dismiss Valdano.
That was not the first occasion the Argentinian was sacked from the club. This time 18 years ago, on January 21st 1996, Real fired Valdano for the first time.
Valdano was the manager back then. After having stood out for doing a great job as Tenerife’s boss, where his team beat Real in two successive years in matches that ensured Los Blancos could no longer win the league, he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in 1994.
His first season as Los Merengues coach was successful, as Madrid won La Liga, ending Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona their four-year victory run.
Nevertheless, the following season things weren’t as good. The team struggled to find good shape in La Liga. Thus, after losing for the first time in the club’s history against Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu, the board of directors decided to dismiss Valdano.
After 22 league games, Real sat eighth in the table, with a 16-point difference with leaders Atletico Madrid.
“This is not the saddest night of my career, because I suffered hepatitis that stopped me from playing football. I don’t feel like that now, I don’t feel weak. I feel calm. This is not a failure, but an eventuality of life,” Valdano said.
“I would have never made this decision; it’s the toughest and most unpleasant. Now it’s difficult to know if we’re right or wrong, but we needed a wake-up call and the rope always breaks in the thinner side. It’s easier firing one than firing 25, and that’s what the board of directors decided,” president Lorenzo Sanz told the press.
Valdano’s dismissal didn’t help the team improve, as Real Madrid finished La Liga in sixth place, when only the first five would qualify for European competitions. They trailed champions Atletico Madrid by 17 points.