From Thibaut Courtois to Alvaro Morata - Meet the players who crossed the Madrid derby rivalry and played for both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid

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Alvaro Morata and Thibaut Courtois played for both Real and Atletico Madrid
More than 35 players have played for both top Madrid clubs

El Derbi Madrileno between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid is one of the best derbies in Spanish football.

The rivalry started after 1902 when 'Madrid Foot-Ball Club' (Madrid FC) was founded with the intention of merging with smaller clubs in the region to create a footballing powerhouse.

Madrid FC also signed the best players from the clubs it could not merge with, which also made those clubs defunct when they were unable to compete against the heavyweights.

Only Athletic Club Madrid (founded in 1903, later renamed to Atletico Madrid) took a stand against Real and were able to keep most of their star players courtesy of the financial aid provided to them by their parent club Athletic Club Bilbao.

Since then till date, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been rivals and continue to carry their own respective legacies in modern day football.

Despite their enmity, many players have played for both Los Blancos and Los Rojiblancos over the years.

Who are they? Let's take a look!

  1. Pruden Sanchez

    Pruden Sanchez

    Prudencio Sanchez, commonly known as Pruden, featured for Real Madrid for the majority of his career. He moved to Atletico Madrid from Salamanca in 1940 and scored 33 goals, winning the Pichichi Trophy, while helping the club win the Liga title in his first season at the club.

    He then returned to his boyhood club Salamanca in order to help them gain promotion, but failed to do so, before joining Real Madrid.

    Sanchez spent five years with Los Blancos, winning two consecutive Copa del Rey trophies in 1946 and 1947. He scored in the final of both games.

  2. Candido Martinez

    One of Real Madrid's greatest goalkeepers, Candido Martinez featured for Los Blancos for seven years during which he helped the club win six regional championships between the 1921-22 and 1927-28 season.

    In 1928, Real Madrid's board of directors decided that Martinez, who was 29 at that time, was not good enough for the club due to his increasing age.

    As a result, he moved to Atletico Madrid and played one season for them before retiring from the sport.

  3. Monchin Triana

    Born in Madrid, Monchin Triana started his career at Atletico Madrid between 1919 and 1928 and became the club's all time top goalscorer during his nine year stay at the club (the record stood at 35 goals at that time). He won three regional championships with Atletico.

    In 1928, he joined Real Madrid and played four years for them, scoring 17 goals in 25 appearances.

    Shortly after a Spanish uprising in 1936, Republican military showed up at Triana's house, claiming him and his two brothers. They were imprisoned without trial. Monchin, who was just 34 years old at that time, was shot dead in November 1936 and his two brothers were also killed.

  4. Alvaro Morata

    Alvaro Morata

    After starting out at youth level with Real Madrid's B team, Alvaro Morata rose up the ranks to play for the first team in 2010. In his first stint at senior level with Los Blancos, the Spaniard scored 10 goals in 37 appearances before joining Juventus for a €20 million fee.

    After two seasons in Italy where he performed well, Real Madrid exercised their buy-back clause and brought Morata back home. The striker scored 15 goals in 26 appearances in the 2016-17 season before he was sold to Chelsea in 2017. He scored 16 goals in 47 appearances for the Blues.

    In 2019, Morata left for Atletico Madrid on an initial loan before making his move permanent in 2020.

  5. Thibaut Courtois
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    Thibaut Courtois

    Chelsea signed a relatively unknown goalkeeper named Thibaut Courtois from Belgian club Genk in 2011 and immediately loaned him to Atletico Madrid for three seasons.

    Courtois established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world during his stint at Atletico as he won the Europa League in 2012, the Copa del Rey in 2013 and the La Liga title in 2014.

    He then returned to Chelsea in July 2014, and in his first season, he helped the Blues win the League Cup and the Premier League title.

    In 2018, Real Madrid signed Courtois in a deal that made him La Liga's most expensive goalkeeper in history.

  6. Juanfran


    After starting out at youth level with Real Madrid before making six appearances for their senior team, Spain right-back Juanfran joined Espanyol on loan before permanently moving to Osasuna.

    At Osasuna, he was arguably the best player between 2006 to 2011, making 148 appearances for the club.

    In January 2011, Atletico Madrid signed Juanfran. He made his official debut two days after joining Atletico, starting in a 3–1 away loss against his first club Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

    From 2011 to 2019, Juanfran made made 243 appearances for Atletico before moving to Sao Paolo.

  7. Jose Antonio Reyes
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    Jose Antonio Reyes

    One of the most technically gifted wingers in Europe during the early 2000s, Jose Antonio Reyes came to prominence at Arsenal, catching the eye of Real Madrid, who signed him on loan for the 2006-07 season.

    However, since they did not make his move permanent, Atletico Madrid stepped in and signed Reyes in the summer of 2007.

    Reyes made 103 appearances for Atletico until 2012 before joining Sevilla.

    The gifted Spaniard died at the age of just 35 following a car accident while travelling between Utrera and Seville.

  8. Santiago Solari

    Santiago Solari

    Argentina midfielder Santiago Solari arrived in Spain with Atletico Madrid signing him in 1999.

    In his one season at the club, Solari made 46 appearances, scoring six goals, his best performance in his professional career, but couldn't save Atletico from relegation.

    In 2000, Solari moved across town to Real Madrid. In his five seasons with Los Blancos, Solari made 131 appearances and scored 10 goals.

    His peak at Real Madrid came in the 2001-02 Champions League final as he was involved in the gameplay which led to THAT Zinedine Zidane wonder volley goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

  9. Hugo Sanchez

    Hugo Sanchez

    One of the greatest goalscorers in Real Madrid history, Hugo Sanchez initially joined Atletico Madrid in 1981. In his four year stint at the club, the forward scored 54 goals in 111 appearances, winning his first Pichichi trophy.

    Real Madrid signed him in 1985. It was reported that due to Atlético Madrid's reluctance to anger their fan base due to a direct deal with Real, Sanchez was transferred to UNAM, a club back in his home country on July 4, 1985, before he was signed by Los Blancos.

    Sanchez went on to create history at Real Madrid, scoring 208 goals in 283 appearances in all competitions.

    A mind-boggling stat during one of his season's at Real Madrid was that Sanchez scored 38 goals in the 1989-90 campaign and remarkably, all 38 of these goals were first-time shots.

    His 38-goal tally stood as a league record until Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed it with 40 goals in the 2010-11 season.

  10. Juan Antonio Ipina

    Juan Antonio Ipina

    Juan Antonio Ipina played for one season with Atletico Madrid in 1935-36, featuring for 22 games.

    The midfielder was signed by Real Madrid in 1939 and he went on to make 302 appearances for them until 1949.

    Ipina even captained Los Blancos from 1944 right up until his last game for the club. After retiring, he even had one spell as Real Madrid's manager (1952-53)

  11. Bernd Schuster
    David Hernández / AFP

    Bernd Schuster

    Barcelona legend Bernd Schuster left Camp Nou and joined arch-rivals Real Madrid in 1988 in what was a controversial move considering the animosity between the two clubs.

    The Germany midfielder survived just two seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, making 61 appearances.

    Atletico Madrid signed Schuster in 1990 and he helped usher in a new era at the club. He left Atletico in 1993 and joined Bayer Leverkusen.

  12. The rest, from Jose Manuel Jurado to Sergio Reguilon
    Getty Images

    The rest, from Jose Manuel Jurado to Sergio Reguilon

    Two-time La Liga winner with Real Madrid, Luis Olaso started out at Atletico Madrid and made 13 appearances between 1919 and 1929. The combative midfielder then joined Real Madrid and featured for them for four years, making 43 appearances and scoring eight goals.

    One of the great strikers in the late 1920s, Cosme Vazquez joined Atletico Madrid from Real Vigo in 1925, but only made his first appearance for the club in 1928. In the 1928-29 season, Vazquez made 17 appearances and played every single minute for Atletico, scoring 13 goals. He joined Real Madrid in 1929 and played there until 1931, scoring four goals in 16 games.

    Francesco Moraleda spent three seasons at Real Madrid between 1925 and 1928, helping the club to win three back-to-back regional championships between 1925 and 1928. After scoring 13 goals in 40 appearances for Real, the forward joined Atletico Madrid and played for them for one season.

    A two-time Spanish champion with Real Madrid (in 1931-32 and 1932-33), Jaime Lazcano started his career at the club as a young midfielder. He scored 40 goals in 81 games for Los Blancos before moving to Atletico Madrid in 1935, where he spent one season.

    Luis Marin featured for Atletico Madrid from 1928 to 1930, scoring 24 goals in 35 games. After a four-year gap due to unknown reasons, he returned back to Atletico in 1934, scoring five goals in 27 games until 1936 before joining Real Madrid in 1939, again after a three year gap due to unknown reasons. Marin played just 25 games for Los Blancos, scoring five goals.

    Part of the great Real Madrid team that won five European Cups in five successive seasons between 1955-56 and 1959-60, Rafael Lesmes was on Atletico's books before joining Real, however, he did not make a single appearance for Los Rojiblancos. At Real Madrid, the defender made 163 appearances between 1952 and 1960.

    Jose Luis Perez-Paya Soler joined Atletico Madrid in in 1950 and played three years for them, making 65 appearances and scoring 30 goals. The striker was then signed by Real Madrid where he made 36 appearances and scored 13 goals in four years.

    After rising through the ranks at Atletico Madrid's academy, Paco Llorente joined their senior team in 1986. The winger played just one season at senior level with Atletico and signed Real Madrid in 1987, where he went on to make over 100 appearances. Llorente won three league titles with Los Blancos.

    Joaquin Parra joined Atletico in 1987 after making 221 appearances for Real Betis. The midfielder stayed for two seasons with the Rojiblancos before signing for Real Madrid in 1989.

    After gaining promotion from Real Madrid's B team, Sebastian Losada made 38 appearances for their senior team between 1984 and 1991, scoring 13 goals. Atletico signed him in 1991, but he could survive only one year at the club. Losada retired at the age of 27 and became a lawyer.

    Left-back Miguel Soler joined Barcelona in 1988 and made 76 appearances for them before joining Atletico Madrid in 1991. However, after just one season with Atletico, he returned back to the Camp Nou. In 1995, he also joined Real Madrid, but the best period of his career came towards the end of his professional journey when he featured over 150 times for Mallorca between 1998 and 2003.

    Juan Esnaider was one of those Real Madrid youngsters who often appeared for the first team whilst also playing for their B team between 1991 and 1993. The striker left the club to join Zaragoza in 1993 before returning back to Los Blancos in 1995 for another season. In 1995-96, Atletico Madrid came calling. In his one season with Los Rojiblancos, Esnaider scored 16 goals in 35 games.

    After established spells at Cadiz and Malaga, Pedro Jaro joined Real Madrid in 1990. The goalkeeper made just four appearances for Los Blancos in his four years at the club before joining Betis in 1994 and Atletico Madrid in 1997. He just made three appearances for Atletico.

    Atletico Madrid legend Jose Garcia Calvo actually started out at Real Madrid's academy before making 16 appearances for their senior team in the 1996-97 season. He joined Valladolid in 1997 and made over 100 appearances for the club until 2001. Atletico Madrid then signed him in 2001 and he played a crucial role in helping them gain promotion to the top flight in 2002.

    After multiple loan deals away from Real Madrid, Rodrigo Fabri left the club without making a senior appearance as he was signed by Atletico. At Atletico, Fabri stayed just one season in 2003-04, playing 16 games.

    After playing nearly 100 games for Real Madrid's academy, Jose Manuel Jurado made just three senior appearances for the club before he was offloaded to Atletico Madrid in 2006. At Atletico, the central midfielder made 88 appearances, scoring 10 goals.

    After back-to-back promotions from Real Madrid's C team to B team and then to the senior team, Antonio Adan made his first senior appearance in 2010, but overall, he could just play three games for Real Madrid until 2013, reason being Iker Casillas in his prime. In 2018, he joined Atletico Madrid for two years, playing just two games.

    Marcos Llorente graduated from Real Madrid's academy and went on to make 22 appearances between 2015 and 2019 for their senior team. In the summer of 2019, he was sold to Atletico Madrid, where he still plies his trade.

    Sergio Reguilon graduated from Real Madrid's academy and played for their B team until 2018. He got the chance to feature for the senior team, making 14 appearances between 2018 and 2019. Reguilon then moved to Sevilla on loan for the 2019-20 season before Tottenham Hotspur signed him in September 2020. Two years later, in the summer of 2022, Spurs loaned him to Atletico Madrid until the end of the 2022-23 season.

    One of the lesser known goalkeepers who played for both Atletico and Real Madrid, Jose Cabo made just nine appearances for Los Blancos before Atletico signed him in 1929. He made just 17 appearances for Atletico. He made just 54 club appearances in his career.