Real Madrid have won the UEFA Champions League three times in a row. They also lifted the FIFA Club World Cup successfully in the last three years, cementing their place as the biggest football club in the world.
Los Blancos are not in the best of form currently and are placed fourth in the LaLiga table in the ongoing season. In the 16 matches played, they have won 9, drawn 2, and lost 5, and have 29 points on board.
The most successful club in Spanish football has a knack of winning silverware and that is unlikely to stop. One can expect The Vikings to bounce back soon and get things right.
A lot of legendary players hung up their boots at the Santiago Bernabeu. There is also a bunch of players who took up coaching or managerial roles after bidding adieu to the club. Meanwhile, there is also a select group of players went on to play in lesser-known domestic leagues around the world.
Many fans across the world follow only European football. In this article, we take a look at 5 former Real Madrid stars you would not have imagined are still active -- playing for clubs in lesser-followed leagues in the world.
#5 Julio Baptista
Julio Baptista was with the Madrid giants for three years (from 2005 to 2008). However, the attacking midfielder was loaned to Arsenal for the 2006–2007 season.
In the 77 appearances for Real Madrid overall, Julio scored 13 goals and also made 6 assists. The Brazilian player is still active and playing for Romanian first division club CFR Cluj. Julio came to be known as "The Beast" for his physical strength and presence on the field.
The 37-year-old has played for multiple clubs across the globe -- São Paulo and Cruzeiro (in Brazil); Sevilla, Real Madrid, and Malaga (in Spain); Roma (in Italy); Orlando City (in the USA), and now CFR Cluj (in Romania).
Baptista was also a part of the Brazilian national team during his prime years and was part of the squad when they won the FIFA Confederations Cup (in 2005 and 2009) and Copa América (in 2004 and 2007).
#4 Álvaro Mejía Pérez
After playing in the B and C teams of Real Madrid, Álvaro Mejía spent four seasons playing for the senior team of The Vikings (from 2003–2007). The central defender played 57 games for them and also has a goal to his name. He was also a part of the team when they won the LaLiga in the 2006–07 season.
The 36-year-old is currently a vital part of Al-Shahaniya Sports Club, a first tier Qatari club of which he has been a part since 2014.
Álvaro played three seasons with Spanish club Murcia after his time at Real Madrid. A solitary season with Ligue 1 club Arles-Avignon followed in 2010. He was then a part of Turkish club Konyaspor for two years before coming back to Spain to play for Almería for a season. The Spaniard then played for Superleague Greece club Ergotelis before finally moving on to Al-Shahaniya.
#3 Fernando Gago
Fernando Gago climbed through the youth divisions of Boca Juniors and played for the senior team in 2004. His impressive display in the midfield for Boca attracted interest from Real Madrid and he was roped in for €20.5 million. The defensive midfielder gave some top class performances in the five seasons he was with Madrid.
In his 122 appearances overall, Gago scored one goal and gave 14 assists. Injuries and the arrival of Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira meant that he would struggle to find a place in the starting XI more often than not in the 2010-11 season. This resulted in a loan move to Roma for 2011–12 and then a permanent move to Valencia for the 2012–13 season.
The Argentine playmaker also spent a solitary season with Vélez before moving to his childhood club Boca Juniors in 2013. Gago has been with Boca since then and also won a lot of silverware.
He has also made 61 appearances for the national team and was also in the squad when Argentina finished runners-up in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
#2 Wesley Sneijder
Wesley Sneijder began his career with Ajax and scored 59 goals in 181 appearances for them. After enjoying five successful seasons with the Dutch club, the Utrecht-born player was bought by Real Madrid. He was given the 23 number shirt -- which had formerly been worn by David Beckham -- at the Los Blancos.
His stint with Real Madrid was not as successful as was anticipated during his transfer and he was there for two seasons -- scoring 11 goals in 66 appearances overall.
Post Madrid, Sneijder spent four seasons with Italy's Internazionale, then another 5 with Turkish giants Galatasaray, and a solitary season with French club Nice.
The veteran attacking midfielder was roped in by Qatari club Al-Gharafa ahead of the 2017-18 season. He is currently with them and has also enjoyed a successful run of form wherein the 34-year-old has scored 18 goals in 29 appearances.
Robson de Souza, better known as Robinho, began his career with Santos in 2002. Spanish giants Real Madrid were interested after seeing highly successful four seasons with the Brazilian top division side. They roped him in ahead of the 2005–06 season.
The technically-gifted forward spent four years with Real Madrid, also winning two LaLiga titles (2006–07, 2007–08). Even though Chelsea had shown a lot of interest in the creative Brazilian player, he made a move to Manchester City after Real Madrid.
After spending a brief time in Santos on loan from City, Robinho made a move to Italian giants Milan. He was there for four years and was again loaned to Santos for 2014 and 2015.
After spending some time with Guangzhou Evergrande in China, the Brazilian went on to play in his home nation in 2016 and 2017 -- for Atlético Mineiro. The 34-year-old is currently a part of Turkish club Sivasspor and has scored 12 goals in 30 appearances for them.
The veteran forward has won a lot of individual honours as well as silverware in his entire career and was also an integral part of the Brazilian national team. He won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil in 2005 and 2009. He also was the best player of the 2007 Copa América, which Brazil won.