Sunday, August 28, 2016

Real Sociedad Greatest All-Time Team

 
La Liga Champion 1980-1981


Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Real MadridBarcelonaValencia,
Atletico MadridSevillaAtletic Bilbao, 
Deportivo La Coruna  Real Sociedad,
Real BetisReal ZaragozaEspanyol

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Also known "La Real", Real Sociedad was a founding member of La Liga back in the 1920's.  Its longest spell in the top flight was for 40 seasons, from 1967 to 2007. Their best period was in the early 1980's when they won back-to-back league titles in 1981 and 1982.  They were also known for the Basque derby against its neighbour Atlethic Bilbao.  Please see my All-time Basque 23-member team here.  

Traditionally the club followed a policy (similar to that of its rival Athletic) of signing only Basque players, before signing Republic of Ireland forward John Aldridge in 1989. While a strong Basque contingent has been retained among its players, nowadays both non-Basque Spaniards and foreign players are represented at the club. 
1987 Copa Del Rey

Team  
GK: Luis Arconada (Spain)
Luis Arconada was born in San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa. He played his entire career with Real Sociedad, capturing back-to-back La liga titles from 1980 to 1982.  He was capped 68 times, helping Spain to reach the final of the 1984 European Championship.  His blunder, however, in the Final caused Spain to lose in that Final against France. He also went to the 1978 and 1982 World Cups as well as Euro 1980. 
Luis Arconada
GK: Lopez Alberto (Spain)
Known as Alberto, Lopez Alberto was  the undisputed started for La Real from 1992 to 2002. He shared the position with Sander Westervel until 2006.  He joined Real Valladolid in Segunda División on a one-year deal in 2006. In 2006–07, he helped the side return to the top flight after a three-year absence, while also collecting a Ricardo Zamora Trophy – 36 matches, 29 goals.

GK: Jose Ramon Esnaola (Spain)
Jose Ramon Esnaola joined Real Sociedad in 1965, helping the club to return to the First division in his first season.  In 1973, he joined Real Betis.  He won the 1977 Copa Del Rey by stopping three penalties and scoring one himself in the penalty shootout in the Final. It was his only trophy. He played with Real Betis until 1985.

RB: Aitor López Rekarte (Spain)
Aitor Lopez Rekarte was the undisputed started for Real Sociedad throughout his career, where he played from 1997 to 2007. He was named captain at one point.  In July 2007, López Rekarte switched to newly promoted UD Almería, but appeared scarcely throughout the season. He joined second division side SD Eibar. He had one cap with Spain in 2004.  

CB: Ignacio Kortabarria (Spain) 
He spent his entire career with Real Sociedad. He was a key defender and the club's captain as Real Sociedad won back-to-back La Liga champion in the 1980's.  He received 4 caps.  On 5 December 1976, before a game against Athletic Bilbao, Kortabarria and the opposing captain, José Ángel Iribar, carried out the Ikurriña, the Basque flag, and placed it ceremonially on the centre-circle. This was the first public display of the flag since the death of Francisco Franco, but it was still illegal.
Ignacio Kortabarria and José Ángel Iribar 1976 showing the Basque flag in 1976
CB: Alberto Gorriz (Spain) 
Alberto Gorriz played his entire career with Real Sociedad, winning back-to-back la Liga titles in the 1980's.  He earned 12 caps with Spain.  He made his national debut at the age of 30.  He went to the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy, where he scored a goal against Belgium. He was known for his partnership with Agustín Gajate.

CB: Augustin Gajate (Spain) 
Augustin Gajate spent his entire career with Real Sociedad, where he started in 1977, but did not play much until after the back-to-back La Liga winning years.  He formed a famous partnership with Gorriz in the 1980's. He retired in 1992.  He was never capped at the senior level for Sopain, but he represented Spain at the 1980 Olympics.

CB/DM: Jon Andoni Larranaga  (Spain)
Larranaga rose throught the academy at Real Sociedad.  He was a rarely used player at Real Sociedad's 1980-1981 La Liga wining campaign.  He was the starter the following campaign as Real Sociedad won the league again.  He retired at 36 at the end of 1993–94, having played in 589 overall games(only behind Alberto Górriz). He is the only player of the league-winning sides to have played in the club's two grounds: Atotxa and Anoeta.

LB:  Agustin Aranzabal (Spain)
From 1993 to 2004, Agustin Aranzabal starred for Real Sociedad. He helped the club to finish second during the 2002–03 season. He moved to Zaragoza in 2004, but could not find any successes.   He unretired in 2008, but in early 2010, he retired and joined Kitchee SC from Hong Kong, playing along side Albert Celades.  At the international level, he had 28 caps and went to the World Cup Finals in 1998 and Euro 2000.
Agustin Aranzabal
DM: Agustín Aranzábal "Gaztelu"  (Spain)  
Gaztelu played his entire career with Real Sociedad.  He helped them to gain promotion in 1967 and was also a part of the team that won the 1980-1981 league title.  He was the only player who were on both teams. At the internationa level, he earned two caps for the Spanish national team. His son is Agustín Aranzábal.

CM: Jesus Zamora (Spain)
Jesus Zamora played his entire career with Real Sociedad.  He was the hero of the 1980-1981 La Liga winning campaignHe scored a last minute goal that clinched the league title at the last game of the season.  He was also known for his partnership with Jesús María Satrústegui. For Spain, he was capped 30 times between 1978 and 1982.  He went to the 1980 European Champions held in Italy, and 1982 the World Cups held in Spain.
Jesus Zamora
DM/CM: Miguel Ángel Alonso (Spain)  
Miguel Ángel Alonso is Xabi Alonso's father.  He was a key player as Real Sociedad as they won back-to-back league titles in the 1980's.  He joined Barcelona FC in 1982 after the World Cup Finals in Spain.  He earned 20 caps between 1980 and 1982.  He retired from the national team after the World Cup Finals held in Spain. He retired at the end of the World Cup Finals from international duty.

CM: Xabi Alonso  (Spain)
Xabi Alonso started with Real Sociedad.  He joined Liverpool in 2004 winning the Champions' League trophy in his first season.  In 2009, he moved to Real Madrid, winning the Champions' League again in 2014.  In 2014, he joined Bayern Munich. He was a key member of the Spanish team that won the WC and two European Championships.  His 114 caps make him the fifth most capped player in the nation's history.
Xabi Alonso

AM/RW: Valeri Karpin (Russia)
Karpin scored Russia's first ever goal after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in a 2–0 win against Mexico in1992. Karin had 72 caps.  He played for Russia at the 1994 World Cup, Euro 96, and the 2002 World Cup. At club level, Karpin has played for Fakel Voronezh (1989), Spartak Moscow (1990–94), Real Sociedad (1994–96 and 2002–05), Valencia CF (1996–97), and Celta Vigo (1997–2002). He retired at the end of the 2004–05 season with Real Sociedad.

LM: Javier de Pedro (Spain)
Javier de Pedro was a product of Real Sociedad's youth system. From 1993 to 2004, he played for Real Sociedad.  In his late career, he played for many clubs, including Blackburn Rovers, Perugia, etc.  He was capped 12 times for Spain, and played all matches at the 2002 World Cup Finals co-hosted by Japan and Korea as a starter.

LW: Txiki Begiristain (Spain)
Txiki started his career with Real Sociedad. He was their hero as the club won the Cop del Rey in 1987.  In 1987-1988, the club came second in both league and cup.  He joined Barcelona the following season along with Bakero and Rekarte. He became a key player for Barcelona's Dream Team in the 1990's. He was capped 22 times.  He represented the nation at UEFA Euro 1988 and the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Txiki
CM/AM: Sebastián Ontoria (Spain)
Sebastian Ontoria started with Zaragoza and played briefly there, before he joined Real Sociedad in 1941, where he was converted to a forward and eventually became its captain. He earned a singe cap for Spain in 1950 on an away match against Portugal. He was imprisoned for 2 years after the Spanish Civil War.

AM: Jose Mari Bakero (Spain) 
Bakero was a member of Real Sociedad that won back-to-back La Liga champion in the 1980's.  In 1987-1988, the club came second in both league and cup.  He joined Barcelona the following season. He became a key player for Barcelona's Dream Team in the 1990's. He played with barcelona until 1997.  He was a part of the team that won the European Cup in 1992.

FW: Antoine Griezmann (France)
The Frenchman joined Real Sociedad's youth academy and made , his senior debut in 2009.  He moved to Atletico Madrid in 2014 helping the club to reach the Champions' league final in 2016.  At the time of writing, he was capped 49 times for France.  He made his mark at the World Cup in 2014.  Two years later, he led the team to reach the Final of Euro 2016.  He won the Golden Boot that year. He was a part of the team that won the World Cup in 2018.
Antoine Griezmann
FW: Nihat Kahveci  (Turkey)
Started with Besiktas in Turkey and joined Real Sociedad in 2002.  He formed a famous partnership with Darko Kovacevic there.  However, his club career was limited by an injury.  He earmed 69 caps for Turkey.  He was only used once at the World Cup Finals in 2002.  However, he was the hero of Turkey during the Euro 2008, where he scored two goals in a dramatic win over the Czech Republic.

FW: Roberto Lopez Ufarte (Spain)
Nicknamed "Little Devil", Roberto Lopez Ufarte was considered among the best player ever from Real Sociedad. He was a key player as Real Sociedad won back-to-back league titles in the 1980's. He later played for Atletico Madrid and Real Betis.  He was capped 15 times between 1977 and 1982.  He appeared in the 1982 World Cup Finals, held in Spain.
Roberto Ufarte
FW: Paco Bienzobas (Spain)
Born in San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Bienzobas arrived at local Real Sociedad at the age of 17, from amateurs Unión Deportiva de San Sebastián  He played for Real Sociedad from 1926 to 1934. Bienzobas was the first ever Pichichi Trophy winner in 1926.  He had a brief stint with Osasuna during the Spanish Civil War.  He was capped twice.

ST: Darko Kovačević (Yugoslavia)
Darko Kovačević started his career with Proleter and Red Star Belgrade.  After a disastrous season with Sheffield Wednesday, he made a name with Real Sociedad from 1996 to 1999.  He played for Juventus and Lazio before returing to La Real in 2001. He was capped 59 times for YugoslaviaHe went to European Championship in 2000 and the World Cup Finals in 1998.
Darko Kovacevic
ST: Meho Kodro (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Meho Kodro started with FC Velez Mostar back home, but he left for Spain because the war in Yugoslavia. He joined Real Sociedad in 1991.  He was second in Pichichi Trophy in 1994-1995. He moved to Barcelona the following year.  His stint lasted a single season. He earned two caps for Yugoslavia and 13 more for Bosnia and Herzegovina.


ST: Jesús María Satrústegui (Spain)
Jesús María Satrústegui was known for his partnership with Jesus Zamora.  He was a key player as Real Sociedad won back-to-back league titles in the 1980's. He was La Real's all-time leading scorer.  He was capped 32 times for Spain.  He represented his country at the European Championship in 1980 and the 1982 FIFA World Cup.  He retired from the national team after the World Cup Finals alongside Jesus Zamora.
Jesus Maria Satrustegui

Honorable Mention
Lorenzo Juarros, Mikel Aranburu, Jose Antonio PikabeaMiguel Ángel FuentesAndoni Imaz, Santiago IdigorasXabi Prieto, Iñigo Idiakez, Andoni Elizondo, Oscar de Paula. 

Squad Explaination
-- Real Sociedad won back-to-back league titles in 1981 and 1982, which was the club's biggest achievements.  I selected 10 players from the titles-winning team.  They are Luis Arconada, Roberto Lopez Ufarte, Jose Mari Bakero, Miguel Ángel Alonso, Jesus Zamora , Agustín Aranzábal "Gaztelu", Jon Andoni Larranaga, Augustin Gajate, Alberto Gorriz, Ignacio Kortabarria and Jesús María Satrústegui. Both Jon Andoni Larranaga and Augustin Gajate were not major players until after the back-to-back years.  Some of the players also won the 1987 Copa Del Rey. Txik who came after La Liga winni g years was a member of the 1987 team.
-- Luis Arconada's blunder against France at the European Championship in 1984 hurt his reputation. He was actually one of the greatest keepers in the 1980's.  
-- Lopez Alberto played well in the 1990's, helping the club top finish second in La Liga.
-- Miguel Ángel Alonso is the father of Xabi Alonso and Mikel Alonso.  Mikel was less known than his younger brother Xabi. The brothers were on the same team briefly.  
-- Xabi Alonso only played for them between 2000 and 2004. However, he was the captain of the side that finished second place in the 2002–03 season.  He was also of homegrown.
-- Agustín Aranzábal "Gaztelu" is the father of Agustin Aranzabal. Both made the team.
-- Valeri Karpin was a rare star player from the Soviet Union in the 2000's.
-- Antoine Griezmann played 140 games for the club.  The number put him among the most for a foreign player.  I admitted that his inclusion into the team is a big question mark.
-- If I selected Darko Kovacevic, I have to take Nihat Kahveci as well. They were known for their partnership. In defence, Augustin Gajate and Alberto Gorriz also formed a famous partnership.  So both of them also got selected together.
-- From the 1980's, Jesús María Satrústegui was known for his partnership with Jesus Zamora. Jesus Zamora scored a last second goal that gave Real Sociedad the 1980-1982 La Liga title. Both were legends of the club.
-- Oscar de Paula seldom started for the club.  He was mainly used a substitute who scored a lot of goals after coming off the bench. I put him on honourable mention.
-- Paco Bienzobas was the first ever Pichichi Trophy winner in 1926.
-- Santiago Idigoras and Pedro Uralde should have made the team, but I did not have the space.  Both were from the glorious team of the early 1980's.
-- In 1988, Jose Mari Bakero and Txiki moved together to Barcelona. They played for Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team". Their contributions were not factors in their selection here.  Luis Lopez Repartee joined Barcelona on the same deal. Meho Kodro would also join Barcelona in 1994.  Both Jose Mari Bakero and Txiki were still with them at the time.

Formation 




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