In these days all TV channels and newspaper from Spain and from all over the World talk about Mourinho’s situation at Real Madrid. The Portuguese coach is about to fulfill his third season on the bench of the team and this will be, probably, his last. But I don’t want to talk about Mourinho right now, but he is the perfect ‘bridge’ to pass through the history of Real Madrid. Like any other giant club from Europe, it is natural that Real must have on the bench the best coaches as possible in different points of the history and, for sure, many of them couldn’t have been Spanish citizens. A total of 27 foreign managers walked on Paseo de la Castellana in the 111 years history of Real Madrid. But who could ever guessed that even the first full-time coach of ‘Los Blancos’ was from outside Spain’s borders?!?!
The story is about a man named Arthur Johnson, born in 1879, and the specification of ‘the first full-time coach’ is very necessary as he didn’t took in charge in 1902, when Real Madrid was established, but only in 1910. The date being noted in the history of the club as the one when Real Madrid got its first true coach! But Johnson wasn’t only a quick and unnoticed presence in the family of Real Madrid, as his mandate was the second longest in the history of ‘Los Blancos’, surpassed only by Miguel Munoz who trained on ‘Santiago Bernabeu’ from 1960 and until 1974. Fourteen years, comparing to the decade in which Johnson set on the bench of the capital team (1910-1920). La Liga, didn’t exist in that period, only regional championships, and Real Madrid did manage to win that in four occasions.
More important than that was the Copa del Rey. The competition, founded in 1902, was won in four occasions by Real Madrid before the arrival of Arthur. In 1916, after a memorable semifinal against Barcelona, won after four encounters, Real passed through the final. At that moment, goal difference was not important, so after Barcelona won 2-1 at home, Real obtained a 4-1 crushing victory on home soil and this ensured a play-off. 6-6 after extra time and another replay was necessary which, eventually, Real Madrid won 4-2, but with great complains from the Catalans, which claimed that their fourth goal was scored from off-side. The rivalry existed but in that period the hate increased to parameters that lasted until our days. Unfortunately, in the final, ‘Los Blancos’ lost 4-0 against Bilbao and the celebration had to wait one more year, for 1917. That was the season at the end of which Johnson obtained his first and only big trophy alongside Real Madrid, after a 2-1 victory in the last act in front of Arenas.
Besides the story mentioned above, Arthur Johnson will forever remain the man under which command, Real Madrid played for the first time in complete white, color which remained unchanged for more than a hundred years and contributed decisively to the nick name of Real Madrid: ‘Los Blancos’. Also, in 1912, two years after he was named head coach, at the club played his first match the legendary Santiago Bernabeu. On 3rd of March, the future trainer and president of the club, was only 16 years old but hadn’t have any problem in scoring the winner in the friendly match against English Sports Club ended with 2-1. So, how could such an important man from the history of the club which is probably the most popular in the world disappear like an anonymous? I mean if we search all Internet sources, none can tell us when and where he ended his life! Shocking, I think, considering that we speak about Real Madrid’s first coach!
Wait! This is not all the story! Why? Well, because Arthur Johnson took part, as a player, in Real Madrid’s first squad to ever play a football game. It happened on 13th of May 1902, when he was 23 years old. An encounter against the traditional rivals, FC Barcelona, lost 3-1. But guess who scored the only goal of ‘Los Blancos’? Arthur was obviously that man! What a mark he left on this club’s history and nobody now what happened to him during time. Very strange but also too sad in the same time…