South Melbourne FC will have the opportunity to host and accommodate Real Madrid over the next few weeks as part of their 2015 International Champions Cup tour.
On 11 May 2010, both clubs were honoured at the World Football Gala in London. Real Madrid were crowned the European Club of the Century and South Melbourne were crowned the Oceania Club of the Century. With former legendary players such as Ferenc Puskás, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Zinedine Zidane, Raúl, Iker Casillas and current player Cristiano Ronaldo, coupled with Madrid’s record ten European Cup (UEFA Champions League) victories, it was certainly an honour for South Melbourne to be in the same room with one of the giants of world football on that special night.
Ferenc Puskás (2 November 1927 to 17 November 2006) represented both Real Madrid (as a player) and South Melbourne (as a coach). The Hungarian is rated by many as one of the greatest players in the history of football. He was with Madrid from 1958 to 1966 and in that time won the Spanish First Division Championship (La Liga) in five straight seasons from 1960/61 to 1964/65, as well as the Intercontinental Cup in 1960 and the Spanish Cup in 1961/62. He won three European Cups with Real Madrid (1958/59, 1959/60 and 1965/66) and personally scored an incredible four goals as Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in the 1959/60 European Cup final in Glasgow on 18 May 1960.
From October 1989 until June 1992, Puskás coached South Melbourne in the National Soccer League. He oversaw South Melbourne’s first National League Cup triumph on 25 April 1990 (4-1 against Sydney Olympic at Olympic Park), before overseeing South’s dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Melbourne Croatia in the 1990/91 NSL Grand Final (following a 1-1 draw) for the Club’s second National League Championship. Overall, Puskás managed South in 87 League matches for 46 wins, 17 draws and 24 losses, an overall winning record of 53%.
Over the past few days, SMFC Director and Major Sponsor Andrew Mesourouni (of PlastaMasta Knauf) has been in Madrid with Club Partner Morris Pagniello from the Genova International School of Football. On Sunday, Mr Mesourouni was invited to be a guest of Real Madrid and met current Manager Rafael Benitez as well as President Florentino Perez.
Mr Mesourouni’s trip has allowed South Melbourne FC to build a more formal partnership with Real Madrid, with the Club inviting Real Madrid to enjoy unlimited access to its exclusive areas and resources at Lakeside Stadium during their stay in Melbourne over the next few weeks.
South Melbourne FC would also like to confirm that as part of their newly-formed partnership with Real Madrid, both clubs will shortly be hosting a combined event that commemorates the history of both clubs. This event will also formally welcome Real Madrid to Melbourne and to its partnership with South Melbourne FC.
Speaking to smfc.com.au, Mr Mesourouni was excited about the new partnership. “Firstly, I’d personally like to thank Real Madrid and in particular Mr Benitez and Mr Perez for going out of their way to make me feel welcome at Real Madrid. As we all know, Real Madrid is one of the biggest clubs and brands in world football and to have them open their doors to South Melbourne FC is greatly appreciated.”
“It is quite exciting that as a club, we can return the favour and allow Real Madrid to use our facilities when they are in Melbourne. Building a relationship and partnership with such a huge club like Real Madrid can only be good for us, so we are more than happy to do whatever we can to look after them during their stay in Melbourne.”
“On behalf of South Melbourne FC, I would also like to thank Mr Morris Pagniello of Genova International Soccer Academy for all of his tireless work in assisting us to get to this point. Our relationship with him will also allow for a pathway to be formed, allowing many of our youth players the opportunity to play in Europe if they are good enough. We cannot wait to work with both Real Madrid and Morris over the next few weeks.”
Keep an eye on smfc.com.au and our social media channels for more exciting developments over the next few weeks and months.