Real Madrid kick off La Liga season this weekend. They’ll start against Betis, a team managed by Pepe Mel. The Andalucian’s coach returns to his former home, as he is one of the hundreds of players that grew up at Los Merengues.
Mel joined Madrid in 1974 and spent 14 years at the club, with the exception of one year when he went on loan to Alcala. In fact, the Betis boss has joked a few times about his long stay at Real: “I arrived at 11 years old and left as a married man”.
During that time in Los Blancos youth teams he coincided with a number of players that would later earn a spot in Real Madrid’s history, such as Emilio Butragueno, Chendo, Rafael Martin Vazquez and Michel.
However, Mel wasn’t lucky enough to become a member of the first squad, as he only played one game for Real Madrid, a friendly against Calvo Sotelo.
The lack of chances to play in the first team had to do with the fact that he played as striker, and Real had world class players in that position back them, such as Hugo Sanchez, Santillana and Butragueno.
Plus, apart from his year on loan at Alcala, when he scored 34 goals, his scoring record was never impressive with Castilla. Thus, he felt forced to find his way far from Santiago Bernabeu, a place where he will return next Sunday.
* Photo: Pepe Mel and Michel with Real Madrid Castilla (Liga BBVA)