"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." For all intents, Manuel Sanchís appears to fit all three maxims. His father, Manuel Sanchís Martínez, played for Real Madrid CF between 1964 and 1971, winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1966, and when his then 13-year-old son began his own career at the Santiago Bernabéu in 1979, a clear path was already set.
But Manuel Sanchís blazed a new trail, and by the time he retired in 2001, the one-club man had made a staggering 524 Primera División appearances, encompassing eight championship medals, two UEFA Champions League (in 1998 and 2000) titles, having claimed back-to-back UEFA Cup honours in the mid-1980s. The harbinger of Madrid's famed 'La Quinta del Buitre' (Vulture's Cohorts) – the name given to the generation of homegrown players that dominated Spanish football in the 1980s – Manuel Sanchís' first taste of success came at the 1986 UEFA European Under-21 Championships.
The cornerstone of a defence that did not concede in qualifying, he provided a crucial balance as Spain cut loose against France in the quarter-finals, claiming 3-1 victories home and away to set up a last-four encounter with Hungary, whom they beat 5-4 in a thrilling comeback. They edged out Italy on penalties in the showpiece, following a 3-3 aggregate draw as Manuel Sanchís lifted silverware for his first time – although by no means his last.
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