It wasn’t pretty but Real Madrid scraped through the Champions League group stages earlier this season and avoided dropping down to the Europa League, despite losing twice to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Two winless games to kickstart Group B had Los Blancos staring down the barrel in the early exchanges, but Zinedine Zidane refused to lie down and instead masterminded a resurgence, largely owing to Inter Milan’s poor form, to progress to the knockouts, and they are now vying for a record 14th crown.
It meant the Madrid giants avoided scrapping it out in the Europa League, a competition they still haven’t appeared in since 1994/95, when it was then was known as the UEFA Cup. But, they were unable to make a significant dent in the competition all those years ago, exiting in the last-16.
That last-16 tie was a lifetime ago, and saw them beat Odense 2-3 in Denmark before getting shocked 0-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu and being knocked out. We’ve taken a look at the XI from that infamous home defeat and seen what happened next to them in their careers.
Career path: Castilla, Elche (loan), Merida (loan), Celta (loan), Real Madrid, Valencia
Canizares was in his mid-20s and finally getting a go at Madrid (after two years on-loan at Celta) when Odense stuck two goals past him. He never really settled at the Santiago Bernabeu and was usurped by Bodo Illgner. But in 1998 he left to join Valencia where he became a living legend, helping them win La Liga twice, the UEFA Cup once and twice reaching the Champions League final. He retired in 2008 and went on to be a commentator as well as a rally driver.
Quique Sánchez Flores
Career path: Valencia, Real Madrid, Real Zaragoza
Sanchez Flores was a Valencia legend before joining Real Madrid, which he did in summer of ’94. After the Odense debacle, Sanchez Flores helped Los Blancos win La Liga before leaving a year later to play for Real Zaragoza. After retiring he became a scarf-wearing coach and has drifted around various clubs, winning the Europa League with Atlético Madrid and famously having two spells as Watford manager.
Career path: Sevilla, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Espanyol
Having already won the European Cup with Barcelona, Nando was a solid back-up for Real Madrid albeit he didn’t really handle the Odense forwards well (he pushed up senselessly and created the space Odense needed to score their opener). He left Madrid the following season and played over 100 games for Espanyol before retiring in 2001.
Career path: Athletic Club, Real Madrid, Athletic Club
Rafael Alkorta shot to fame playing for Athletic Club in the late 80s. He joined Madrid a season before the game against Odense and, in that fated match, played Pederson onside for the first and was wildly out of position for the tie-winner, unbalancing the back-line and leading directly to Bisgaard being unmarked.
Alkorta left Madrid a couple years later to spend his final years with Athletic. He ended up as assistant coach to former Madrid team-mate Michel at multiple clubs, including Marseille, before being appointed sporting director of his beloved Athletic Club in 2018.
Career path: Sporting Gijon, Real Madrid, Barcelona
Luis Enrique began his career with Sporting Gijon before moving to Real Madrid as an attacking midfield type whose versatility meant he often played other roles, like in the game against Odense where he played left-back and lost Martin Bisgaard for the tie-winner. After that he moved to Barcelona where he became the iconic warrior everyone knows him as. After retirement he worked his way up the coaching ladder, dominating the club game for two years with Barcelona where he birthed the M-S-N trio. He is currently manager of Spain.
Position: Defensive midfielder
Career path: Argentinos Juniors, Tenerife, Real Madrid, AC Milan
Redondo was already in his mid-20s and firmly established as one of the world’s finest midfielders but even his genius couldn’t help Madrid move past Odense. He played many happy years at Madrid after the debacle, of course, and became a key part of the next great Madrid side, winning La Liga and two European Cups. A move to Milan (against his will) coupled with a horrific knee injury ended his career prematurely.
Rafael Martin Vazquez
Career path: Castilla, Real Madrid, Torino, Marseille, Real Madrid, Deportivo de la Coruna, Atletico Celaya, Karlsruher SC
An industrious and hard-working midfielder, Martin Vázquez had two different spells at Real Madrid. The first more significant as he emerged from the youth system to be part of the side that won La Liga five straight seasons and consecutive UEFA Cups as one of La Quinta del Buitre (more on them later). After brief spells in Italy and France he returned to the Bernabeu and, following the embarrassment of the Odense defeat he left Los Blancos (with a sixth league title) and then roamed around various clubs before retiring.
Career path: Valladolid, Lleida (loan), Real Madrid, Racing, Deportivo de la Coruna, Espanyol
The man with legendary locks, Amavisca joined Real Madrid a few months before the Odense tragedy, becoming an important figure. He left Los Blancos after the 1998 Champions League win (after winning La Liga twice) and played for various La Liga clubs before retiring.
Position: Attacking midfield
Career path: Kjobenhavns BK, Brondby, Juventus, Lazio, (loan), Barcelona, Real Madrid, Vissel Kobe, Ajax
The Dane felt undervalued at Barcelona after leading them to four straight titles, so left for free to join Real Madrid prior to 1994/95. He won La Liga that season but was perhaps more responsible than anyone for the Odense nonsense, missing a sitter in the early minutes that would have surely led to Los Blancos coasting through.
He left Madrid a year after winning La Liga, however, playing two seasons with Vissel Kobe in Japan before one last year with Ajax. After retirement Laudrup went into management, first with Brondby where he won a title, then Getafe, Spartak Moscow and Mallorca before famously taking the Swansea job. He helped the Swans win the 2013 League Cup, but after getting sacked he’s since worked only in Qatar, with two spells managing different clubs.
Career path: Castilla, Real Madrid, Atletico Celaya
Before Cristiano Ronaldo, before Raul, there was Emilio. Real Madrid’s no. 7 was such an iconic figure that they nicknamed the whole team after him. Well, kind of – the side that won five straight titles was built around five homegrown players known as La Quinta del Buitre (the Vulture’s Cohort), built off Butragueno’s nickname of El Buitre (the Vulture).
He was a truly spectacular player, a dribbling wizard who could create and score in equal measure. By the time of the Odense humiliation he was well into his 30s and, in his final season for Madrid, could do little to get them a win in the stead of Ivan Zamorano. That this was his last ever European match means the Quinta are the only truly great generation of Real Madrid to have not won a European Cup.
Career path: Real Madrid, Real Betis, Barcelona, Marseille (loan), Real Betis
The man with the golden boots and a stadium named after him (yes, he’s the Alfonso Perez in Getafe’s Coliseum Alfonso Perez) started life as a Real Madrid back-up striker (who helped Spain win Olympic Gold in 1992). He wasn’t exactly prolific and couldn’t do anything to help Madrid turn their dominance to goals against Odense. After leaving Madrid he became a Betis legend, then a Barcelona flop, before returning to Betis for one last spell and then retiring in 2005. His most famous moment came with Spain when, wearing those golden boots, he volleyed a last-minute winner against Yugoslavia at Euro 2000.