Hugo Sanchez is number 48 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series.
Finding a good goalscorer is tough. Finding a great goalscorer is even harder. Finding one of the most naturally gifted scorers of all time is nearly impossible.
Fortunately for Real Madrid, they managed that one-in-a-million discovery when they signed Mexican icon Hugo Sánchez in 1985.
Sánchez had proven to be a quality forward before his switch to Real, firing home 19 goals with rivals Atlético Madrid during the 1984/85 campaign. He was seen as a top forward, but nobody could have guessed he was about to erupt.
The celebrated Quinta del Buitre – made up of Emilio Butragueño, Manuel Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel, and Miguel Pardeza – were coming into their own, and Real chose to compliment the development of this homegrown core with the signing of Sánchez.
That group, who lost Pardeza in 1986, proved to be one of the most dominant in the history of Spanish football, and they were led by Sánchez’s ludicrous goal tally.
Now representing the blanco side of Madrid, Sánchez wasted little time in starting his reign of dominance. 22 goals in his first season won him his second consecutive Pichichi for finishing as the league’s top scorer, but it was also enough to see Real move back to the pinnacle of Spanish football.
They cantered to the league title with an 11-point lead over Barcelona, back when a victory was only worth two points, and they won a whopping eight games more than any other side.
Real even lifted the UEFA Cup in his first season at the club, and Sánchez even got himself on the score sheet in the first leg of the final.
Thank you very much, Hugo Sánchez.
With the Mexican in attack, Los Blancos were the real deal. His agility, movement and penchant for a ludicrous overhead kick made him a must-watch, and the fact that he could translate all that into goals made it even better.
He fired 34 goals in his next season, winning the Pichichi once more (that’s three in a row, but who’s counting?). Real lifted the La Liga title once more, and the dominance was just getting started.
Year three brought 29 goals, a third successive league title and a fourth consecutive Pichichi, making Sánchez the only man to ever win four in a row without sharing the award with any other player.
His individual dominance came to an end in the 1988/89 campaign, when his haul of 27 goals was bested by Atlético Madrid’s Baltazar, who fired a stunning 35 goals. Well, it was only stunning for a year.
Sánchez responded by striking 38 goals in just 35 appearances in the 1989/90 campaign, tying Telmo Zarra’s record for number of goals in a single season (until Cristiano Ronaldo selfishly shattered it with 40 goals in 2010/11).
What’s even crazier is that all 38 of those goals came from first-time finishes. Sánchez did not need to control the ball as he was talented enough to guide it instantly, and he was always in the right area to fire home.
He picked up his fifth Pichichi, making him just one of three men to win five of the awards, while he had also led his side to five consecutive league titles.
Replicating that kind of form proved to be an impossible task for Sánchez, who eventually left the club in 1992. However, by the time he said goodbye, he had proven himself as one of the greatest players in club history.
As an individual, Sánchez was outstanding. He could do everything and always backed it up with the numbers to prove it.
You want goals in the air? Call Sánchez.
Scrappy six-yard area finishes? Call Sánchez.
Acrobatic volleys? Definitely call Sánchez.
The Mexican has earned a place in history as one of the finest individual players ever, while his partnership with Butragueño is also seen as one of the greatest one-two punches you’ll ever find.
Real have had more than their fair share of phenomenal forwards, but there’s a reason why they are always compared to Sánchez.