‘It had to be somewhere special’ – Steve McManaman recalls Real Madrid move

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Ahead of the Madrid derby, the two-time Spanish champion and LaLiga ambassador recalls how the lure of the famous white strip proved irresistible

Steve McManaman shocked European football in 1999 when he left Liverpool for Real Madrid in one of the game’s first high profile Bosman transfers.

McManaman had become the darling of Anfield since graduating from the club’s prolific academy, but the lure of Real Madrid was too strong, despite the fact that very few British players were moving abroad at the time.

“For me to leave Liverpool, it had to be a very special club,” the former England international and told official La Liga sponsor, Clear Men.

“When Madrid came, with the history of Real Madrid, the iconic white football shirt and the glorious names of the past, it was a very easy decision to join Real Madrid."

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And the history of a great footballing city will be the talking point this week, as Real meet rivals Atletico in the Madrid derby.

Real come into the weekend two points behind their hosts and will certainly feel the pressure to leapfrog Diego Simeone’s men into second place – after all, Europe’s most decorated club has grown accustomed to success.

“There’s a lot pressure on you to succeed straight away,” adds McManaman, who won two Liga titles with the club.

“I wanted to win. I wanted to be successful for the best team in the world at the time, and that’s what we strived to be.”

Steve McManaman is an official LaLiga ambassador and was speaking courtesy of Clear Men, official global partner of LaLiga.