MX23RW : Saturday, March 23 03:30:19

On this day: Jonathan Woodgate endures nightmare Real Madrid debut

Ten years ago today, Jonathan Woodgate scored an own goal and was later sent off on what was his delayed Real Madrid debut.

Jonathan Woodgate's switch to Real Madrid in 2004 certainly raised a few eyebrows. While nobody doubted his ability from stints with Leeds United and Newcastle United, his injury record was a worry. Indeed, out of 128 possible games for the Magpies, Woodgate turned out on only 37 occasions.

He arrived in the Spanish capital nursing a thigh injury and despite claims from president Florentino Perez that he would be available for selection in three weeks, Woodgate was absent for the entire campaign.

The Middlesbrough-born defender also missed the opening three La Liga encounters of the 2005-06 season, but having returned to fitness and with Ivan Helguera and Sergio Ramos unavailable, Woodgate was hoisted in for his debut 10 years ago today when Athletic Bilbao made the trip to the Bernabeu.

Fourteen months or 516 days - whichever you prefer - that is how long the centre-back had to wait before he could make his first appearance in the famous white shirt. Yet, as it transpired, Woodgate probably would not have minded had his spell on the sidelines been extended ever so slightly.

Ahead of a debut, most players would have gone to bed the night before dreaming of making the headlines, just as Wayne Rooney did when he announced himself to the Manchester United fans in 2004. Woodgate also dominated the back pages, just for all the wrong reasons.

With 26 minutes on the clock, the 25-year-old stooped to clear Joseba Etxeberria's hopeful shot, but he only succeeded in diverting the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Not only was it an own goal that broke the deadlock, it stunned the home faithful, who had cheered his every move up until that point, into silence.

It would get worse, though, starting just before the break when Woodgate was cautioned for a lunging challenge on Carlos Gurpegi.

A second yellow card - and a subsequent red - would follow in the 65th minute after the England international had obstructed Etxeberria from breaking clear towards goal, ending what was a pretty miserable debut for Woodgate.

If there was one positive to take, it was that his dismissal did not prevent his team from winning through thanks to second-half goals from Robinho and club captain Raul, who notched a brace to secure a 3-1 victory.

Speaking to reporters after the final whistle, Woodgate said: "It was not the best start in the world. I couldn't believe [the own goal]. I went to try to block the ball and it just skimmed off my head. Obviously, I did not want to get an own goal.

"I just can't believe I got sent off. I didn't think the second yellow card was right, you know, but it's the referee's decision. I want to thank the public, who were brilliant when I was walking off. They were all clapping and cheering."

Woodgate would make just 13 more appearances for Los Blancos before injuries took hold once again. He returned to England in the summer of 2006 with his native Middlesbrough.

Madrid: Casillas; Salgado, Woogate, Pavon, Carlos; Beckham, Garcia, Gravesen (Guti); Robinho, Raul (De la Red), Ronaldo (Bravo)

Bilbao: Aranzubia; Exposito, Casas, Lacruz, Prieto (Murillo); Gurpegi (Iraola), Gutierrez, Orbiaz, Tiko; Yeste (Llorente), Etxeberria

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Iker Casillas for Real Madrid on August 12, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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