Stars of Yesteryears

Emilio Butragueno: The Spanish Vulture!

Emilio Butragueno is a Spanish retired footballer who played as a striker. Born July 22, 1963, he was best known for his spell with Real Madrid.

Nicknamed El Buitre (The Vulture), he amassed La Liga totals of 341 games and 123 goals for his main club, in 12 seasons, and represented the Spanish national team in two World Cups (being the second top scorer in the 1986 edition) and as many European Championships, scoring 26 international goals for his country for a record that stood several years.

Club career

In 1981, skillful Butragueno joined Real Madrid’s youth system, playing first for its reserve side before being given his senior debut by Alfredo Di Stefano on February 5, 1984 against Cadiz FC. Expectedly, he made an instant impact during the explosive encounter, scoring twice and assisting for the third goal in a 3–2 away turnaround, after Real Madrid trailed by 0–2.

On December 12, 1984, he made his European competition debut, contributing with a hat-trick to a 6–1 home triumph against R.S.C. Anderlecht for the UEFA Cup third round (after a 0–3 loss in Brussels). The Merengues went on to win the competition.

At the time, Real Madrid’s form was so patchy that first team’s attendances were poorer than the reserve side ones; Butragueno contributed to the side’s transformation, and was a prominent member of the team during the 1980s, winning numerous honours.

Butagueno received the European Bronze award for best footballer in two consecutive years, and won the Pichichi Trophy in 1991, while also being instrumental in the capital club’s six La Liga trophies, two Copa del Rey and UEFA Cups.

In June 1995, having lost his influence in the Real Madrid side (only eight games and one goal, as the club won another league), mainly due to the emergence of 17-year-old Raul, Butragueno signed for Club Celaya in Mexico and, in his first year, the team reached the final of the national championship.

After three seasons where he was known as the Gentleman of the Pitch – never received a single red card during his entire career – he finally decided to retire from the game in April 1998.

International career

Butragueno played 69 international matches for Spain, and scored 26 goals. His debut came on October 17, 1984 against Wales in a 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifier, although he had already been picked as an uncapped player for the UEFA Euro 1984 team as the nation finished runners-up.

Butragueno was also selected for the 1986 World Cup, where he played a major part, scoring four goals as Spain beat Denmark 5–1 in the round-of-16 match.  He also played in the 1990 edition in Italy (four games, no goals).


Butragueno won six La Liga titles with Real Madrid in 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90 and 1994–95 seasons.

He also won two Copa del Rey trophies with Real in 1988–89 and 1992–93 seasons.

Still with Real, he won Copa de la Liga in 1984–85 season; Supercopa de Espana in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1993; UEFA Cups in 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons and Copa Iberoamericana title in 1994.

He inspired the Spanish national team to the UEFA European Championship runner-up position in 1984.

Top among Butragueno’s individual awards are: Bravo Awards in 1985 and 1986; Bronze Ball in 1986 and 1987; Pichichi Trophy in 1990–91; FIFA World Cup Silver Boot in 1986 and FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1986.

Post-retirement and other ventures

Still as a player Butragueno had a computer game with his name released in 1988, for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and MSX.

On October 19, 2004 he replaced Jorge Valdano, a former Real Madrid teammate, as the club’s director of football and, until the end of the 2005–06 season, also served as the club’s vice-president. Subsequently he acted as head of Public relations for the organization.


CAPTION: Brilliant! Emilio Butragueno celebrates after scoring during Spain’s 5-1 thumping win over Denmark in 1986.



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Ihesiulo Grace

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