Until recently we’d forgotten about Guti. Hard to imagine you could forget someone who played over 500 times for Real Madrid, but forget him we did. Perhaps that’s because despite winning three Champions Leagues and five La Liga titles with Madrid, Guti never really realised his potential.
Guti was one of the most stylish players of the last decade. Players like him are the reason the phrase “cultured left foot” still exists. He could carve open defences at will, creating chance after chance for teammates and took excellent set-pieces (Not that he got much of a look in with people like Zidane, Beckham and Roberto “1 in 20” Carlos around). He was also extremely versatile, as evidenced by his 18 goal haul when played as a striker in 2001. Watch a few Youtube compilations and you’ll wonder how this guy didn’t become one of THE names of his generation.
Along with Raul and Iker Casillas, Guti was one of the most dominant personalities at the Bernabeu for over a decade but the silky playmaker never really transferred that dominance to the pitch.
For much of his career at Madrid he was something of a luxury player, too talented to let go but not reliable enough to build a team around. Seedorf, Zidane, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Kaka were all drafted in ahead of Guti to act as the fulcrum of the side and while Zidane was a once in a generation player, the others were no more talented than the Spaniard.
In the end Guti’s temperament held him back. He was a bit of a hothead and got sent off eight times in the league. Now while the occasional blowout is tolerable from someone like Zidane, a player who’s trying to establish themselves can’t afford that kind of strike rate.
More importantly, Guti frequently fell out with coaches. You might think that shouldn’t be a problem at a club like Madrid, where the average lifespan of a coach makes Roman Abramovich look positively patient, but Guti had spats with most of them.
He fell out with Bernd Schuster and Juande Ramos and had an infamous half-time argument with Manuel Pellegrini in a cup humbling at Alcorcon, which ultimately spelled the end of his time at Madrid.
His personal life attracted the wrong kind of attention also with his relationship with a transsexual and general party lifestyle causing problems.
Guti’s international career was probably his biggest disappointment. Despite playing for the biggest club in the country for over a decade he managed a mere 13 caps and never travelled to a major tournament.
The most likely reason for that level of under-representation at international level is a personality clash with management. The reason he could never command a regular place was due to the presence of Xavi, his Barcelona counterpart. There was already an established younger midfield conductor in the Spanish side, a divisive figure like Guti was never likely to displace him.
Having fallen out of favour at Madrid, the former vice-captain left the Bernabeu in 2010 to pursue a new challenge/collect a healthy paycheck in Turkey with Besiktas. He won one trophy there before hanging up his boots in 2012.
P.S. The real reason for writing this piece is it gives us an excuse to include one of our favourite goals.
That goal encapsulates Guti. Fantastic technique, ridiculously creative and slightly crazy.