The hummel x Real Madrid years
Steven Scragg, senior writer at These Football Times, examines one of hummel's most iconic sponsorships in European football
Away from the Denmark national team, arguably one of the most enduring football partnership hummel embraced in the 80's and 90's, was the one with the mighty Real Madrid.
Beginning in 1986, just as Real had reclaimed their crown as La Liga champions, for the first time since 1980, it was to be a partnership which embodied the regeneration of a club which had slipped from their position as the dominant force in Spanish football, during the first half of the decade.
The remarkable rise of Real Sociedad, combined with another giant of the game in Athletic Bilbao enjoying their own renaissance, had seen a four season span where the Basque Country had taken personal ownership of the La Liga title.
Even more painfully for Real, the Barcelona of Terry Venables had broken their own 11-year title drought with success in 1984-85.
Despite UEFA Cup success in 1985, it had been a wounded, and frustrated Real which had stormed to the league title in 1985-86, also retaining their UEFA Cup.
The catalyst for this dramatic turnaround in fortunes was multi-faceted.
The emergence of five homegrown players of immense talent, had lifted the spirits of a club which was struggling to match the glories of decades past.
Given the sobriquet of La Quinta del Buitre, translating as ‘The Vulture’s Cohort,’ Real didn’t just wrestle back the balance of power in Spain, they instead took a stranglehold on La Liga for the remainder of the 1980s.
Led by the clinical goal scoring exploits of the wonderful Emilio Butragueño, and the intelligent midfield orchestration of Míchel, they were aided and abetted by the often-underrated Rafael Martín Vázquez, the iron will of Manolo Sanchís, and for a fleeting time, the subtle vision of Miguel Pardeza.
Read more after the image.
Emilio Butragueno in action against Athletico Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Getty Images: Allsport UK /Allsport
Added to this, was the World Cup winning Jorge Valdano, and the controversial signing of Hugo Sánchez, the hero of cross-city rivals Atletico.
While Atleti supporters were devastated by the departure of their talisman, Real fans were initially sceptical about their new signing. The Mexican international soon eased those concerns, with an avalanche of goals, all of which were embraced in his inimitable aeroplane style celebration.
The arrival of Sanchez however eventually led to the premature depart from the Santiago Bernabéu of Pardeza, for Real Zaragoza.
The signing of goalkeeper Francisco Buyo from Sevilla, and the later opportunistic recruitment of Bernd Schuster from a dysfunctional Barcelona, stirred a bubbling pot further.
Read more after the jump Hugo Sanchez in 1989 after a goal against Logroneso. Photo by David Leah / Allsport / Getty Images
It was with a bludgeoning attacking game, that Real swept forward. Often playing without a holding midfielder, they pinned their opponents back, and with an aggressive style, which was both bewitching, and upon occasion half a step over the lines of acceptable behaviour, Real would go on to win five successive La Liga titles between 1986 and 90.
It was only the second time in the history of the Spanish game, that a quintet of titles had been won.
It was with an arrogant, but stylish swagger and confidence that Real reclaimed the throne, as Spanish football’s most pre-eminent force. The empire truly did strike back, as they lost just three league games during the last two of these successes.
hummel’s kits were the perfect foil, to the cut and thrust of Real’s style of play.
Classic strips, which were collared, and embossed with the iconic Hummel chevron along the sleeves. Many players opting for the more evocative long-sleeved version. The legendary white home kit, being offset by the blue away variety.
Article continues after the image.
Against FC Bayern Munchen in 1987/88. Photo by Bongarts/Getty Images
Under the presidency of Ramón Mendoza, Real went from strength-to-strength. The role of coach was passed on from Luis Molowny, to Leo Beenhakker and then on to John Toshack. Domestic domination appeared assured for years to come.
Dark clouds were upon the horizon however.
After years of subtle changes to the squad, Toshack could recognise the growing threat from Catalonia. Johan Cruyff and his dream-team were beginning to rise menacingly.
An acrimonious departure of Schuster, and the ageing Sánchez became huge issues, and Toshack pushed for substantial restructuring of his squad.
Coupled to the demands from Mendoza for success in the European Cup, Toshack became stretched when his new signings failed to perform swiftly enough. Despite ensuring that Real had reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup, a La Liga defeat at Valencia in mid-November 1990 spelt the end of his time in charge.
Classical Iberian impatience would bring an end to Real’s supremacy, a domestic supremacy that they have arguably never really recovered.
Cruyff and Barcelona went on to lift four successive La Liga’s of their own, and even broke the European Cup hoodoo which had hung over them for so long, when they finally became Champions of Europe for the very first time in 1992.
From an initial desire to reclaim domestic power, the European Cup had become Mendoza’s all-encompassing obsession.
Three successive semi-finals had been lost in 1987, 88 and 89. Mendoza’s frustration got the better of him, and he lost sight of domestic matters, which he had perhaps taken for granted.
Within the maelstrom of Barcelona’s domination of the early-1990s, Real still managed to be stylishly self-destructive.
Two successive seasons ended with La Liga titles being lost on the final day, when in the palm of Real’s hand. On both occasions, the decisive losses were inflicted away to Tenerife. The first of those, in 1992, from having held a 2-0 lead, before succumbing to a spectacular 3-2 defeat, courtesy of own goals, and disastrous back passes.
A year later, Real were mentally defeated before they even took to the pitch. It was a haunted team who drifted to a 2-0 defeat, missing a string of opportunities to get into the game, as they suffered the ultimate sense of footballing déjà-vu.
No matter which version of Real you embrace from that era, the Hummel years were some of the most action packed and iconic in their entire history. Aggressive football, intense passion, startling goals, stunning successes, jaw-dropping failures, artistic self-destruction and beautiful kits. The hummel years had it all at Real Madrid.
Hugo Sanchez and Gary Lineker of FC Barcelona in 1987. Photo by Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Images