Once a Galactico, always a Galactico. But that's not a label, Michel Salgado, a former Real Madrid defender, is too happy with.
"First thing, the term Galacticos is not for footballers," said Salgado, 35, who played with the Spanish club for 10 years, starting 1999, in Pune on Thursday.
The term 'Galacticos', coined to describe the policy of expensive signings by club president Florentino Perez at the turn of the century, was taken on instantly by the media and is still used sometimes to refer to Madrid's premier club.
"I have been a part of that team called the Galaticos," he said. "They were some of the best players in the world. We had a great team before they came to Real Madrid and we won the Champions League in 2000 with that team, then we signed (Luis) Figo, (Zinedine) Zidane, Ronaldo. We had a great unit for that. After they came in we improved a lot."
Salgado, in the city as part of the touring Blackburn Rovers team, believes the latest ensemble under Jose Mourinho, with the glamorous Cristiano Ronaldo leading charge, can win Europe's biggest prize - the Champions League, but that right now football world is going through the Barcelona age.
"Real Madrid now are in a different moment now. Sure, they got Ronaldo, they got different players who are respected all over the world. But they need to win trophies and they need to stop the Barcelona era.
"Barcelona are winning everything because of (manager Pep) Guardiola was able to put everything together, to put Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and even bring players like Pedro and (Sergio) Busquets from the second team. (Lionel) Messi is enjoying football because he is surrounded by great players. Individuals can win games but you need a team to become champions."
Salgado played with one such team of champions, and picking the best of the lot is not an easy task. "The best striker I've seen is Ronaldo," he says, before splurting out, "Ronaldo, the fatty one! The way he would finish (a move) was unbelievable. About the overall quality, I think Zidane (was the best). The control; everything he does with the ball is so elegant, he made it look so easy."
Set for the showdown
Blackburn Rovers becomes the first English Premier League side to play in India and the side, owned by Indian poultry giants Venky's, will take on I-League outfit Pune FC at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Friday.
Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira said,"This will be a learning experience for us. The boys in our camp are very excited. We'll give our best."
Blackburn currently lie 19th on the Premier League table.