With the quarterfinals of the current Champions League about to open in just a week’s time, retired Spanish footballer Fernando Hierro believes that Real Madrid has all that it takes to defend their hold on the title.
“The urge to be champions of Europe is in the club’s DNA,” Hierro said of the team, where he now serves as assistant coach. “They are strong and confident and they won a very close Champions League final last time.”
When asked about the prospects of Real losing, as there have been no team yet to successfully defend a Champions League title ever since its introduction, Hierro expressed optimism about the prospect. “Every record is there just to be broken,” he pointed out. “Everyone is pessimistic now because no club has won back to back Champions Leagues, but I think we are a really powerful team with a great coach leading us.”
The former midfielder was with Real for 14 seasons from 1989 to 2003. He has also been part of the squads that brought home three Champions League trophies for the Whites in the 1998, 2000, and 2002 editions of the tournament. After Real, Hierro moved to Qatari club Al Rayyan, which he also helped to win the Emir of Qatar Cup in 2004.
In the interview with UEFA.com, Hierro recalled his and his team’s excitement when they won the 1998 Champions League and brought an end to Madrid’s search for a title win. “We were doing really badly in the Spanish league, and we thought we wouldn’t even have the chance to qualify for Europe in 1999,” he narrated.
“The Champions League was the only competition we could have won that year; it was our only hope, but it was something we really wanted to achieve, and right after the end of the return leg of the semi-final in Dortmund our minds were already on the Amsterdam final, because we all knew what it could mean to us and to the club as a whole”