Exclusive Q&A: Real Madrid legend Uli Stielik

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Real Madrid Legend Oli Stielik is literally one of the best midfielders in the club’s history, and is rarely talked about enough. The German was one of the last Santiago Bernabeu Este deals ever before the death of the former president, and he was one of the pillars of the team that won many titles as he formed a great nucleus alongside legendary players such as Vicente del Bosque, Juanito, Jose Antonio Camacho, Joyo Benito.

Stielike won six major titles in his time with Real Madrid, and he has a special place in my upcoming book. I reached out to him, and he told me stories about former president Santiago Bernabeu, Juanito, Camacho, his relationship with Bosque’s replacement, and the politics surrounding the 1981 European Cup final that Real Madrid lost to him. Liverpoolsome old “beef” with Roberto Carlos, how the game has changed since his retirement, and much more:

Kayan: What do you remember about the 1981 European Cup final? Do you think that if you and Laurie Cunningham were 100% healthy, Real Madrid would have won that match?

Oli: We’ll look at Real Madrid from that year and evaluate their politics a little bit. In 1977, after a disastrous season, Real Madrid signed Kiki Wolf, Juanito and me. In 1978, 1979 and 1980 we were champions of Spain. In 1979 he reached the King’s Cup final. In 1980, he was the King’s Cup winner as well as reached the semi-finals of the European Cup.

That means we had three good years. But at the end of the 1979 season, three junior players appeared: Juan Sol, Kwik Wolf and Henning Jensen. A year later, Perry, the team president, went to Mexico, and Roberto Martinez also left – although he was no longer a regular player, he had a lot of personality and was heard in the locker room.

In three years we lost almost half a team and the tragedy was that they weren’t replaced by players of the same size. Aside from the players’ departure, Don Santiago died in 1978 during the World Cup in Argentina, and his successor Luis de Carlos was unwilling to spend more of the club’s income. The fact that Cunningham and I are back from injuries, I wouldn’t use that as an excuse because the team did a good job getting to that final.

Kian: I recently watched the 1977 Clasico, in which I helped Real Madrid win at the Camp Nou. What surprised me was how well you collaborated with Vicente del Bosque in midfield. Can you talk about your relationship with him and your role in the team?

Ole: In the 1977/78 season, we played several times in midfield with Kiki Wolf, Vicente del Bosque and myself. Quique, like me, had just arrived in Madrid and for our integration it was very important to have players with the history and experience of Perry, Benito or Del Bosque.

Vicente lacked quite a bit of speed, but he had a very good vision of the game, excellent technique and was smart enough to know his strengths and weaknesses. He was also very cultured and very humane. The combination of sporting qualities and social situations always facilitates or complicates cooperation between people. In our case, we understood each other very well and when the midfield works like that it’s hard to fail.

The result of that season was a league title and I scored 13 goals.

Kayan: I was one of the last Santiago Bernabeu deals. What do you remember of him? Do you have any stories about him?

Oli: First, I was very surprised when Don Santiago came in person to watch a match between Borussia Monchengladbach and Dynamo Kyiv to assess whether my move to the club would be appropriate.

Then when I became a Real Madrid player, I was very impressed by his great authority and the love he received from the club’s staff. And although he was already affected by his illness at this time, he spent many hours on the club premises. The times I met him he always said some greetings in German. According to what he told me, he picked up some German ferries during the war. One day, leaving the city’s sports complex in Calle de Castellana, he met my father who was on his visits and hugged him a lot, thanking him for letting his son go to Real Madrid.

Entity: What position do you say you played in? Were you a defensive midfielder? sweeper? Is your position still standing in football today?

Ole: I started in the middle of the field but with the departure of Berry, I found myself little by little in the center of the Libero. I loved the midfield because of the touches on the ball and the participation you can get in a match. I also liked the position of the libero because of his huge responsibility.

The positions we occupy in the midfield have been shaped by the perception of the game and its tactics. When playing a man-on-man scheme, you must defend where your opponent directly has the ball, and attack from that position when you or your team wins the ball. Modern football ranks this as a defensive midfielder at the number 6, or the more offensive version, which is 10. Each of the three midfielders we had in midfield played as an 8 in different circumstances.

Entity: Who is the current player most comparable to your playing style?

Oli: I think the comparisons from one era to another are incorrect. At a young age, I learned to dribble the ball, especially on the street. At the age of 18 I got into a professional club. Clubs today are looking for younger talents. They take them out of their parents’ house, put them in academies and teach them football like math, geography or languages. It is a completely different concept that, of course, affects human evolution. Boys today are undoubtedly precocious, which does not mean that they are better. The early involvement of clubs often makes them subservient and causes problems such as a lack of decision-making or a lack of power.

Kian: Do you think people should talk more about the Real Madrid midfield of your era? Your time seems to have been taken lightly and not enough talked about when discussing the best teams in the club’s history.

Oli: We live in a fast-moving time. On the other hand, I don’t see the logic that young people who want to become professional players one day don’t know or deal with history and they don’t know players like Di Stefano, Puskas or Pele.

On the other hand, I see it as natural for people to remember the greatest difference. Real Madrid’s championship already seems normal. What matters when discussing the best teams is Champions League. We arrived in 1981 to play the final against Liverpool with a team that had no more than half of their players even internationally. For me, this would have been an important success, because in public opinion there is no interest in a team that comes second.

Kian: Can you tell me a story about Juanito that others don’t know?

Oli: Regarding his technical level, I can tell you that Juanito had everything to succeed as one of the greatest. He lifted the crowd out of his chairs with his dribbling and even with the team he asked them to look for each other and try to enter the area because with his speed it was very difficult to stop him without fail.

It’s also true that as a partner from time to time he made you nervous when he changed from playing effectively with the team to making a one-man show, and after three of his dribbling attempts we had to run after the ball.

But his biggest problem was his lack of control over his emotions. I think these emotional outbursts lasted a few seconds. They did a lot of damage to his reputation.

Entity: I played along with Camacho. How does he compare to Marcelo and Roberto Carlos?

Oli: I arrived in the summer of 1977 and found a Camacho that was full of shape. Going up, going down to the left wing, directly eliminating his opponent in his task as a winger and at the same time turning into a more attacking one. And even though he was 22 years old, he was already a staple. Then at the beginning of 1978 he ruptured his ligaments at a time when sports medicine did not yet exist, and this injury most likely meant the end of his sports career.

What this man went through to get back on the court is indescribable. Operations in Spain and France, a lot of medication and rehabilitation with their discharge from the hospital, but in the end it worked.

In any case, the player most similar to Camacho was Gordillo.

Kian: In 2003, after Real Madrid lost in the Champions League semi-finals to JuventusYou said the team “lacks balls”. Robert Carlos responded by saying “Who is Stylik?” do you remember this? Did you talk to Roberto Carlos after that?

Ole: Look, at least he didn’t speak badly of me because today if you don’t criticize a coach or criticize a player today, your words don’t matter. I think if he doesn’t know me it is because he lacks respect for his work and the history of the club. It’s as if I didn’t know Santamaria, Zoco, Grosso, or Amancio.

Kian: Do you still talk to any of your ex-Real Madrid teammates?

Olly: I’m still a little bit tied up in the management of veterans. They recently played a match in Algeciras. Since I live near Malaga, I got close to the match and it was a very great moment to meet again some players of my time like San Jose, Agustin or Martin Vázquez. It’s been decades that I haven’t seen them.

Kayan: What do you think of this Real Madrid team? Could Chuamini replace Casemiro? Does the team need a backup striker?

Ole: People forget that a player transfer is about more than just taking a player off his team, but also having to fit in with your team. The boy can only do his best when he is 100% integrated and will begin to understand the requirements of Madrid. He will have to learn as quickly as possible, get an understanding of Spanish football and the customs in Spain.

And when you think the boy has adapted and played at his best, he begins to cause problems through his family or his agent who are not happy with some bullshit.

Spectators, and unfortunately also a lot of the press don’t want to see that there are many obvious obstacles that come before performances.

Such as transfer window Done, no need to talk about potential transfers anymore.