Cult hero: Madrid's thoughtful playmaker Guti

A loyal servant to Real Madrid CF for nearly 25 years, almost his entire playing career, Guti is the latest focus of Champions Matchday's series on the game's cult heroes.

Guti celebrates after scoring the third goal in the 2002 UEFA Super Cup against Feyenoord
Guti celebrates after scoring the third goal in the 2002 UEFA Super Cup against Feyenoord ©Getty Images

"There are eras that end and for me personally it is a very glorious era at Real Madrid that is coming to a close," said José María Gutiérrez Hernández in July 2010. The Spanish international midfielder, more commonly known as Guti, was drawing the curtain on his Real Madrid CF career after 24 years.

He would subsequently play one full season at Beşiktaş JK before retiring, but it is for his remarkable efforts in the Blancos' cause that he is revered.

Joining Madrid's academy in 1986 aged nine, Guti began as a striker before developing into a fine creative midfielder. His pinpoint accuracy in the pass and fervent passion for the club made him a key asset over 15 years with the senior side, in which he helped Madrid to 15 trophies – including UEFA Champions League titles in 1998, 2000 and 2002.

He made his competition debut in a 1997/98 4-0 group stage thrashing of FC Porto, as Jupp Heynckes' team built up steam on a journey that would culminate in the Merengues' first European Cup triumph in 32 years. Despite not playing in any of Madrid's victorious finals, Guti amassed 21 appearances across the three campaigns, an indispensable contribution to the success.

The midfielder, capped 13 times by Spain, scored three in nine outings in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League, including the winner five minutes from time in the quarter-final return leg against FC Bayern München.

That followed a season in which, because of injuries to team-mates, he returned to his boyhood position of striker, netting 18 times in all competitions. He also registered Madrid's landmark 5,000th league goal in a 4-3 Liga victory over CD Numancia in 2008.

Guti is still adored by the Madrid faithful
Guti is still adored by the Madrid faithful©Getty Images

Off the field, he increased his cult status with cameo roles in two movies – Torrente 3: El Protector and Goal II: Living the Dream. Still adored at the Santiago Bernabéu, and a vocal supporter of the club on Twitter, he took up a coaching post at Madrid's academy in August 2013.

Champions Matchday is the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League and is available in print or free to download in digital format. You can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.