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As most soccer fans know, teams have all kinds of names attached to them. Some are easy to understand but others make you think about why and how they got their names.
In the Spanish top division La Liga there are multiple teams with the same starting name Real. So why are soccer teams in Spain called Real?
The word Real is a Spanish word that means royal in the English language. It was used by clubs in Spain that got royal support from the current king of Spain.
The most notable clubs with this name include Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, and Real Zaragoza.
Why are soccer teams called Real?
Soccer teams, mostly in Spain have the word Real at the start of their team name.
Real in English means “Royal” and clubs in Spain were able to put this word at the front of their team name when they were deemed to get royal support from the current serving Spanish King.
The most famous of all teams are Real Madrid who is synonymous with the title and are simply referred to as Real instead of Real Madrid by many soccer fans.
Other notable teams with Real in their names are Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza, and Real Betis, all of whom along with Real Madrid all play soccer in La Liga which is the top soccer division in Spain.
What was the first soccer team to be called Real?
The very first soccer team to be called Real was Madrid. The club was originally founded way back in 1902 and it simply named the Madrid Football Club.
It was not until 1920 when the then king of Spain, King Alfonso XIII granted the club with the name or title of Real which translates to royal in English.
Once established as Real Madrid, reasonable success followed. From 1905 to 1908 the club managed to win the Copa del Rey four times in a row.
When World War Two broke out, the club had already amassed two La Liga division titles along with seven Copa del Rey trophies as well.
How many teams have Real in their name?
There is a huge range of teams that have Real in their name when it comes to soccer clubs. There are not just in the Spanish first division La Liga either.
There can be found all through the multiple divisions throughout Spain. Even in the US with expansion team Real Salt Lake as well. We will now look at them in a little bit more detail.
1. Real Madrid
Real Madrid is perhaps the most recognized football club not just in Spain, but around the world. They have accomplished pretty much everything possible when it comes to club football.
At the time of writing the Spanish club has several trophies stashed away in their trophy cabinet.
These include winning La Liga a record 33 times, winning the Copa del Rey trophy 19 times, they have a ridiculous 13 Champions League/European Cup titles along with 2 UEFA Cups as well.
They are regarded by many in the soccer world as the greatest soccer club of all time and considering the stature of some of the other clubs around the world, that is a fair accolade to have.
They were founded was back in 1902 and were originally called Madrid Football Club. Then in 1920 King Alfonso XIII granted the club the name Real which translates to Royal in the English language and the club has been known as Real Madrid ever since.
The club’s first home ground was called Campo de O’Donnell and they called this their home ground from 1921 through to 1923. In 1924 the club then moved to the Estadio Chamartin.
Real had this ground as their “home” for 23 years until they moved to the now world-renowned Santiago Bernabeu in 1947. Real Madrid has been calling this “mecca” of soccer grounds home ever since.
Perhaps the most famous era for Real Madrid was the 2000’s. President Florentino Perez was the mastermind for some of the biggest soccer transfers in the world.
Perez had the grand idea of trying to put together the best possible team. He did this without really thinking about how the balance of the team would look, rather than preferring to look at the names of the star players instead.
He eventually put together a team of literal superstars and they came to be known as the “galacticos”.
This specific era for Real Madrid was famous for big-name transfers, showtime football, and the club won its fair share of trophies too.
Famous soccer names like David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, and perhaps the best of the lot, Cristiano Ronaldo have called this great club home.
Between the years 2000 and 2012, Real Madrid splashed the cash and broke the world record for transfer fees. First was Luis Figo. He was bought from Barcelona for 62 million euros.
Then just a year later, Zinedine Zidane was bought from the Italian side Juventus for a then-new record of 77.5 million euros.
Then came the highest-profile signing, Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. The Portuguese international was bought for a staggering 94 million euros in 2009.
Real Madrid then followed Ronaldo’s signing by going even bigger. The club signed Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League for a new world record fee of 100 million euros.
The Galactico era was in full swing as Real Madrid was known all over the world for their big flashy signings as well as the club’s ability to consistently win the biggest trophies.
However, the major drawback of the club’s constant huge spending sprees was the massive amounts of debt that had accumulated over the years.
As a result of the club’s huge spending, in 2010 Real Madrid announced a debt of 659.9 million euros.
The city of Madrid has done its part in helping the club financially too. In 2001 the city bought the team training ground for a whopping 480 million euros.
2. Real Sociedad
Next is Real Sociedad. Founded in 1909 Sociedad was also known as La Real and they are one of if not the oldest and most respected soccer clubs currently in Spain.
The club has some trophies too, winning the La Liga twice as well as winning the Copa del Rey twice as well.
Sociedad is based in San Sebastian and they play their home matches at Anoeta. This stadium has a somewhat bad reputation because there is an athletics track that is situated between the soccer field and the stands.
However, despite this, Real Sociedad has called the Estadio Anoeta is home since 1993.
In the 2003 La Liga season, the club bought international caliber strikers Darko Kovacevic and Nihat Kahveci. These two strikers propelled Sociedad to second in the final La Liga standings.
However Real Sociedad spent the vast majority of the 2003 season on top of the table. They only lost the title in the second to last game of the season, which was an away 3-2 loss to Celta de Vigo.
Real Madrid claimed the La Liga title that year, being clear by two points as they won yet another title.
3. Real Betis
Founded in 1907, Real Betis is better known around the world or at the very least in Spain, as the other Sevillan club. Real Betis has a traditionally fierce rivalry with Sevilla FC.
It is classified as one of the most historic and intense derbies in Spanish football, eclipsing El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The club does not exactly have a cabinet full of trophies, however in 1935 the club did manage to win the La Liga title and it has won the Copa del Rey twice as well, in 1977 which was won by an incredible 21 goal penalty shoot-out against Athletic Bilbao.
The club then won the Copa del Rey again in 2005 with a 2-1 win over Osasuna in the final.
4. Real Zaragoza
The club was founded in 1932 and they have spent most of their history in Spain’s topflight La Liga.
Despite not winning a La Liga title, Zaragoza had won the Copa del Rey six times and they have also won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in the 1994-95 season.
The club has also won the Spanish second division title the Segunda division eight times with the last triumph coming in the 2008-09 season.
5. Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake was founded in 2004 as an expansion club of the MLS and currently plays in the Western Conference.
The club began playing in the 2005 season and has a couple of honors in its history. In 2011 the club was runners-up in the CONCACAF Champions League, they have won the MLS cup in 2009, and were runners-up four years later in 2013.
The club was runners-up in the Supporter’s Shield and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 2010 and 2013, respectively. You can read about why are soccer teams called United.