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Football: Real policy corrupted by fame; THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.

Byline: KEVIN PULLEIN

FROM Los Galacticos to Los Angeles Galaxy. The announcement that David Beckham will leave Real Madrid is an appropriate time to assess the policy with which he became associated - wrongly, in my view. It is dismissed now as a failure. It was not.

Originally, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had a simple but compelling idea: to make a team out of the best players in the world.

First came Figo, then Zidane, then Ronaldo. In four years, Real Madrid won the Champions League twice and La Liga twice. And gave us some indelible memories.

The first half of the 2003 Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester United was the best 45 minutes of football I have seen in my adult life.

So what went wrong? Perez's original idea was subtly, but fatally, corrupted.

Instead of buying the best players in the world, Real Madrid started to buy the most famous players in the world - not quite the same thing - and began with Beckham. Since then, they have won nothing.

Perez, of course, has now gone. So have Figo and Zidane, to be followed soon by Ronaldo (though we know not where) and Beckham.

In my opinion, it is important now to assert that the original idea of Los Galacticos was a noble one.

It was not flawed. It degenerated, however, into something else, which was flawed.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 13, 2007
Words:230
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