Real Madrid are one of the most decorated clubs in the World. They have won the LaLiga a record 33 times, the Copa del Rey 19 times, the UEFA Champions League a record 13 times, UEFA Europa League twice, and the UEFA Super Cup 4 times. This list just goes on and on.
However, the Spanish club is also famous for its transfers as it is for being the most successful club in Europe. When a new player arrives at the club then there are some who naturally have to make way. The latest big player to leave the club was Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now plying his trade with Juventus. There have been many players who bid adieu to Spain at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to try their luck elsewhere.
In this article, we take a look at 3 former Real Madrid stars who are still active footballers elsewhere in the world. Some of these players have had exceptional spells with the Los Blancos and are still a force to reckon with where they play.
#1 Iker Casillas
The legendary goalkeeper made 725 appearances (2nd highest for the club overall after Raul Gonzalez) for Real Madrid during his stay at the club from 1999-2015. The Spaniard played for the Real Madrid B and C teams before moving on to the senior team in 1999.
The 37-year-old also has 167 appearances (the highest for Spain) for the national team. He is known to do exceptionally well for them and was part of their 2010 FIFA World Cup-winning campaign. He is considered by many as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time and often called "Saint Iker" for his terrific shot-stopping ability and quick reaction saves.
Casillas won a lot during his stay with the Los Blancos: 5 LaLiga titles, 4 Supercopa de España titles, 2 Copa Del Rey trophies, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 3 UEFA Champions League to name a few. All this was before the Spaniard decided to make a move to Portuguese first division club Porto on a free transfer. It is said that the goalkeeper did not leave on the best of terms after serving so long to the club he loved. In a statement by his parents, Casillas is said to have been forced out by the club President Florentino Perez, who was heavily criticized thereafter.
He is also the recipient of the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper Award a record 5 times in a row from 2008-2012. His run at Porto has been great and it proves that the move was eventually the right decision. Casillas has appeared in 19 consecutive UEFA Champions League campaigns – a record he jointly holds with Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs. Casillas helped Porto clinch the Primeira Liga title during the 2017-18 season after a barren spell of 4 seasons.
#2 Mesut Ozil
Mezut Ozil is still one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. The German footballer was roped in by the Los Blancos in 2010 for €15 million after his stunning display for the national team during the FIFA World Cup that year. Prior to joining Madrid, he played for FC Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen.
The 30-year-old made an immediate impact for the club and had multiple important outings for them. After lifting the Copa del Rey in his first season, Ozil helped Real claim their 32nd league title and had 17 assists to his name during the 2011-12 season. Ozil is known to be an extremely versatile player as he can even play as a winger and also has phenomenal creativity, vision for finding the right passes at the right moment.
The Gelsenkirchen-born player left the Los Blancos after three seasons to join Premier League club Arsenal, where he still plays. His transfer was for €50 million, a club record at the time. Many Real Madrid players, including CR7, were not happy with him moving out of the club as he had become a key part of the team and understood their game.
Just like when he arrived at Madrid, Ozil's contribution for the Gunners was vital immediately. They ended a 9-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup in 2014. The 2014-15 season was a revelation for him as he had 19 assists by the end of it, being named in multiple teams of the season in top-flight football. His record of 19 assists is only the 2nd highest ever in the Premier League, 2nd to Thierry Henry of Arsenal who had 20 to his name during the 2002-03 season.
Ozil was a vital component for the German national team (from which he retired in 2018) and considered the best playmakers of all time. He played a crucial role when Germany lifted the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He is currently one of the vice-captains of Arsenal and has scored 3 goals in 10 appearances in the ongoing 2018-19 Premier League season.
#1 Arjen Robben
After stints with local clubs Groningen (2000–2002), PSV (2002–2004), and English club Chelsea (2004–2007), the Dutchman made a move to the Spanish giants in August 2007 for €35 million. Arjen Robben played an important role in many of Real Madrid's matches. The 2008-09 season for particularly fruitful for the midfielder as he appeared for the Los Blancos 35 times and scored 8 goals. However, with players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Florentino Perez arriving, his time at Marid was limited. The 34-year-old even said that he was 'forced' to leave the club when Bayern Munich eventually signed him for €25 million in 2009.
In retrospect, it seems like it was a great decision as Robben has prospered with the German giants. Robben has scored 98 times for The Bavarians in his 197 appearances. The Bedum-born player has won multiple accolades with the clubs he has been associated with, but the most with Bayern Munich – the club he still plays for. Predominantly a left-footed player, Robben can wreak havoc for the oppositions' defences when he makes runs down the right flank and puts in pinpoint crosses. To add to this, he also has blistering speed and exceptional dribbling ability.
Robben was a pivotal part of the national team as well and has 37 goals in 96 appearances for them. He has 7 Bundesliga titles, 1 LaLiga, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 2 Premier Leagues, 1 FA Cup, 1 Eredivisie title. In short, Robben is an extremely decorated player. Even though he is nursing an injury at the present moment, he will soon be back on the field for Bayern Munich and we can only expect him to keep delivering the goods for them (or any club he plays for) at least for another couple of years.
Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Gonzalo Higuain (on loan at Milan from Juventus), Raul Albiol (Napoli) are some of the other notable ex-Real Madrid players who are still doing well for their current clubs.