Legends: Carlos Alonso 'Santillana'


Carlos Alonso Santillana with Real Madrid jersey 1975
Carlos Alonso Santillana

Carlos Santillana, as it was known in the football world, was born on August 23, 1952, in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria). He started playing football competition in his hometown, but soon was signed by Satelite, a team of Barreda, a village near Santillana. There he played in the junior category and within the same club came to play in third division. In the beginning, was not yet clear what position in the field he liked. Usually he played in the midfield, but also in the front and was gradually awakening interest among some scouts in the area.

Finishing the sixties, the career of Santillana suffers a dramatic turnaround. The young player is summoned by the coach Jose Emilio Santamaria to join the Spanish national youth team to play against France. The following year, in season 1970/71, Santillana signed for Racing Santander and gets the top scorer trophy of the second division. An unsurprising fact becuase he had earlier demonstrated his scoring ability achieving the same award in the regional category in Cantabria.

With the heat of August 1971, Real Madrid closed a transfer operation with Racing that is used to pay off a debt of twenty-six million pesetas that the Cantabrian team maintained with Real Madrid. In the procurement list were the names of "Ico" Aguilar, Corral and a player they called Santillana who was not yet nineteen.

In 1972 Carlos Santillana goes through the worst moment of his career. Some traces of blood in the urine after a match against Espanyol, alert the doctors of Real Madrid who submitted him to various clinical examinations. Although the news is zealously guarded, on May 7 of that year jumps to the cover of all the newspapers of the country. Santillana have a congenital anomaly, being placed his two kidneys in the same body part. The impact was truly impressive with rumours that he had to leave the football. In the end, and after consultation with the player himself, doctors suggest that he may continue to exercise his profession.

Exceeded the mishap, ended the season getting to be the club's top scorer in both league and European Cup, though with the distaste for not having achieved any title. A year to forget where his only joy was to have participated in the tribute to his countryman, Paco Gento.

Apart from presenting a track record hard to beat (9 Leagues, 4 Cups of Spain, two UEFA Cup) in the mind of Santillana will always endure the final of the European Cup loss on May 27, 1981 in the Parc des Princes against Liverpool. Another gray time refers to the final played against Aberdeen in 1983. The scenario was on this occasion the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg. Again a British team had departed him from the continental glory.

These two thorns in the heart of Santillana were palliated with two UEFA Cups won by Real Madrid (1985, 1986) after nineteen years without achieving any European title. Both titles were marked by a factor, the "stage fright", and Carlos Santillana was one of the main characters of that era. Despite reap bad results out of the Bernabeu, Real Madrid was able to exploit the field factor, with comebacks in playoffs that seemed already lost in advance. Videoton and Cologne had to bow this time against Real Madrid.

Among the most important comebacks is the achieved against the Borussia, on December 11, 1985, with a win 4-0, which canceled the lost match 5-1 against Moenchengladbach. Santillana got the winning goal in the last minute of the contest. Santillana scored the goal on the 89 minute and all the fans walked into the world of the legend, of historical comebacks. A goal worthy of a man of character and commitment.

His story ends with his intervention in the Spanish national team, whose jersey defended 53 times. He debuted in 1975, and scored a total of fifteen goals. He participated in two World Cups, Argentina and Spain, getting to be second in the Eurocup 1984, again at the Parc des Princes against France. In qualifying stage, Santillana was one of the principal players of the epic 12-1 against Malta, one of the most important matches in the history of Spanish football.

On May 22 of 1988, played his last official match for Real Madrid against Valladolid. That day Real Madrid celebrated its achievement of the twenty-third league title. It was the last night that the head of Carlos Santillana flew again in the sky at Chamartin. Possibly the best head-game player there has ever been. He had a huge jump power. He stayed in the air and connected with the ball. He formed a legendary partnership with Juanito.

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