Real Sociedad

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Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad logo.svg
Full nameReal Sociedad de Fútbol, S.A.D.
Nickname(s)Los Txuri-Urdin (The White and Blues)
Founded7 September 1909;112 years ago (7 September 1909)
Ground Anoeta Stadium
Capacity39,500 [1]
President Jokin Aperribay
Head coach Imanol Alguacil
League La Liga
2020–21 La Liga, 5th of 20
Website Club website
Soccerball current event.svg Current season

Real Sociedad de Fútbol, S.A.D., more commonly referred to as Real Sociedad (pronounced  [reˈal soθjeˈðað] ; Royal Society) or La Real, is a Spanish professional sports club in the city of San Sebastián, Basque Country, founded on 7 September 1909. It plays its home matches at the Anoeta Stadium. Real Sociedad won the Liga title in 1980–81 and 1981–82, and last finished runner-up in 2002–03. The club has also won the Copa del Rey three times, in 1909, 1987 and 2020. It contests the Basque derby against rivals Athletic Bilbao. Real Sociedad was a founder member of La Liga in 1929; its longest spell in the top flight was for 40 seasons, from 1967 to 2007. [2]


Traditionally the club followed a policy (similar to that of its rival Athletic) of signing only Basque players, before signing Republic of Ireland forward John Aldridge in 1989. While a strong Basque contingent has been retained among its players, nowadays both non-Basque Spaniards and foreign players are represented at the club. Its youth section subsequent to the all-Basque era has still been very successful in developing internationally renowned players, such as World Cup winners Xabi Alonso and Antoine Griezmann. [3]

The club has competed in the UEFA Champions League twice. In the 2003–04 season, the club progressed to the round of 16 before losing to Lyon.

Aside from football, Real Sociedad also has several sections in athletics, including women's football, track and field, field hockey and basque pelota.


Early history

Real Sociedad in 1912 Real Sociedad 1912.png
Real Sociedad in 1912
Real Sociedad squad in the 1930-31 league season REAL 1931.jpg
Real Sociedad squad in the 1930–31 league season

Football was introduced to San Sebastián in the early 1900s by students and workers returning from Britain. In 1904, they formed the San Sebastian Recreation Club and in 1905 the club competed in the Copa del Rey. In May 1905, the San Sebastian Football Club was formed as a separate branch of the club. In 1909, it applied to enter the Copa del Rey but complications over registration permits saw them compete as Club Ciclista de San Sebastián. This team defeated Club Español de Madrid 3–1 in the final. Out of the confusion, the Sociedad de Futbol was formed on 7 September 1909. In 1910, Spanish clubs played in two rival cup competitions and Sociedad de Futbol entered the Copa UECF as Vasconia de San Sebastián. In the same year, King Alfonso XIII – who used San Sebastián as his summer capital – gave the club his patronage, where it subsequently became known as Real Sociedad de Fútbol.

Real Sociedad in 1952 Real Sociedad 1952an.jpg
Real Sociedad in 1952

Real Sociedad was a founder member of La Liga in 1929. The team came fourth with Francisco "Paco" Bienzobas finishing as top scorer. The team's name was changed to Donostia Club de Futbol in 1931 with the advent of the Second Spanish Republic, but changed back to Real Sociedad after the Spanish Civil War in 1939. The team has generally fluctuated between the Primera and Segunda divisions, in one period (during the 1940s) managing to be relegated and promoted seven times. Around that time, the sculptor Eduardo Chillida was the team's goalkeeper until injury put a stop to his football career.

The success of the 1980s

The team finished as runners-up in La Liga for the first time in 1979–80, gaining 52 points compared to Real Madrid's 53, and 13 points clear of third-placed Sporting de Gijón. Real Sociedad won its first ever Primera División title at the end of the 1980–81 season, denying Real Madrid a fourth-consecutive title because although both clubs earned 45 points and Madrid had the superior goal difference Sociedad were better in the head-to-heads. [4] This qualified La Real for the 1981–82 European Cup, where they were eliminated in the first round by CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria, who hosted and won the first leg 1–0. The second leg in Spain was a 0–0 draw. [5]

Real Sociedad supporters at the streets of San Sebastian Real sociedad jarraitzaileak 0002.JPG
Real Sociedad supporters at the streets of San Sebastián

The club retained the Liga title the following season, beating Barcelona by 47 points to 45, under the management of Alberto Ormaetxea. [6] Forward Jesús María Satrústegui was the club's top scorer for 1980–81 with 16 goals. [7] He scored 13 the following season as Pedro Uralde was the top scorer, with 14. [8] The club reached the semi-finals of the 1982–83 European Cup, defeating Víkingur of Iceland, Celtic and Sporting Clube de Portugal before losing 3–2 on aggregate to eventual champions Hamburger SV. [9] Real Sociedad won the Supercopa de España at the beginning of the 1982–83 season, overturning a 1–0 defeat in the first leg to defeat Real Madrid 4–1 on aggregate.

On 11 March 1987, Real Sociedad set a record for most goals in a quarter-final of the Copa del Rey after defeating Mallorca 10–1. In the semi-finals of the same tournament, it beat its Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao 1–0 over two legs. On 27 June 1987, Real Sociedad won its only Copa del Rey title, defeating Atlético Madrid 4–2 on penalties after drawing 2–2. The match was held at La Romareda in Zaragoza, Aragon. [10] In the following season's Copa del Rey, Real Sociedad defeated Atlético Madrid again after defeating them in the quarter-finals. It then beat Real Madrid 5–0 on aggregate in the semi-finals, but lost 1–0 in the final to Barcelona at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on 30 March 1988. [11] In the 1987–88 La Liga, Real Sociedad were runners-up for the first time since its lost its title – with 51 points to Real Madrid's 62 – and three points clear of third-placed Atlético Madrid. [4]

The Republic of Ireland international John Aldridge was Real Sociedad's first non-Basque player, and was the club's top scorer during both of his seasons from 1989 to 1991 John Aldridge.JPG
The Republic of Ireland international John Aldridge was Real Sociedad's first non-Basque player, and was the club's top scorer during both of his seasons from 1989 to 1991

For many years, Real Sociedad followed the practice of its Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao of signing only Basque players. It abandoned the policy in 1989 when it signed Irish international John Aldridge from Liverpool. [12] Aldridge scored 16 goals in his first season to be the club's top scorer, [13] and fourth-highest scorer of the entire league as La Real finished fifth. [14] In 1990, La Real signed an English striker, Dalian Atkinson of Sheffield Wednesday, [15] who therefore became the club's first black player. [16] He scored 12 goals in his first season, second at the club only to Aldridge's 17. [17] That was Aldridge's final season at La Real, and he left to play in the lower English leagues at Tranmere Rovers, while Atkinson left to top-flight Aston Villa.

In 1997–98, Real Sociedad finished third, its best finish since being runners-up for the first time since 1988. Its total of 63 points was 11 less than champions Barcelona but just two less than runners-up Athletic Bilbao. The club finished higher in the table than Real Madrid due to a superior goal differential. [14] Yugoslav striker Darko Kovačević scored 17 times that season, making him the fourth-highest scorer in the league. [18] The third-place finish qualified La Real for the 1998–99 UEFA Cup, where it beat Sparta Prague and Dynamo Moscow before being knocked out in the third round by Atlético Madrid.

21st century

Darko Kovacevic Chelsea Olympiakos CL07-08 04 - Darko Kovacevic (cropped).jpg
Darko Kovačević
Nihat Kahveci AUT vs. TUR 2016-03-29 (186).jpg
Nihat Kahveci
Real Sociedad - Red Bull Salzburgo 26 (39594403074) (cropped).jpg
Xabi Prieto was a key player as the top goalscorer as Real Sociedad finished in the 21st century

After finishing in 13th position for three consecutive seasons, Real Sociedad were runners-up in the 2002–03 La Liga, its best finish since 1988. [19] Its tally of 76 points was only beaten by Real Madrid's 78, and La Real had four more points than third-placed Deportivo de La Coruña. [20] The club was managed by Frenchman Raynald Denoueix. La Real's strikeforce combined the Turkish striker Nihat Kahveci with Yugoslav international Darko Kovačević. The two were third and fourth top scorer in the league respectively, with 23 and 20 goals. [21] The team also included Dutch international goalkeeper Sander Westerveld and Xabi Alonso in midfield. Alonso was the winner of the 2003 Don Balón award for the best Spanish player in the league, while Kahveci was voted the best foreign player and Denoueix the best manager. [22]

Key moments from that season came when Real Sociedad beat Real Madrid in April 4–2 at the Anoeta Stadium. It kept first place in La Liga until the penultimate game of 38, when it lost 3–2 away to Celta de Vigo, while Real Madrid beat Atlético Madrid 4–0. This meant that Real Madrid secured first place two points clear of Real Sociedad for the last game, where La Real defeated Atlético Madrid 3–0 and Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao to win the title. [23] The team qualified directly for the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League after finishing second; it was unbeaten at home, scored 71 goals in total and lost just six times.

Real Sociedad were placed in Group D of the 2003–04 Champions League with Juventus, Galatasaray and Olympiacos. The team won two matches, drew three and lost away to Juventus to finish second and advance [24] to the last 16. It was knocked out after losing 1–0 in both games against Lyon, hosting the first game. [25] The 2003–04 La Liga saw a dramatic decline in the club's performance, slipping to 15th out of 20. Its tally of 46 points was only five more than relegated Real Valladolid . [26]

On 9 September 2006, Real Sociedad played its 2,000th La Liga match. Real Sociedad was relegated from La Liga in 2006–07, finishing 19th and ended 40 years streak in La Liga, their longest ever stay in the top-flight. On 9 July 2007, former Welsh international and Fulham manager Chris Coleman was appointed as the new club coach, on the recommendation of former Real Sociedad manager John Toshack, an important board member at the club. Coleman resigned on 16 January 2008.

View of the Anoeta Stadium Donostia-San Sebastian Anoeta Stadium 2.jpg
View of the Anoeta Stadium

In the 2012–13 season, Real Sociedad finished in fourth place and qualified for the 2013–14 Champions League for the first time since the 2003–04 season, but in the play-offs, this time. In the play-offs, the club defeated Lyon 2–0 in both legs to qualify for the group stage. Real Sociedad, however, did not make it out of the group, earning just one point. [27]

On 10 November 2014, Real Sociedad announced that David Moyes as the chosen manager to replace Jagoba Arrasate, who was sacked following a series of poor results. [28] Moyes became the sixth British manager in the club's history, however he was sacked 9 November 2015 after falling to 16th in La Liga. [29] Later that day, he was replaced by Eusebio Sacristán.

Sacristán signed an initial contract until 30 June 2017. [30] His contract was renewed in 2017, but Sacristán was ultimately dismissed after a string of poor performances left that 15th in the table and drawn into a relegation battle. [31] Aiser Garitano became the next head coach, having arrived from Leganes. He lasted only seven months before being dismissed, with the team also in 15th place, with only five wins in his seventeen league matches. [32]

Garitano was succeeded by reserve team manager and local boy Imanol Alguacil on 26 December 2018. [33] During his tenure, he has overseen an attacking style of play combining pace, precision, power and exuberance. [34]

In 2008, at Real Sociedad's annual general meeting, Iñaki Badiola, at the time the club's president, accused the preceding club management of buying doping substances. In 2013 Badiola gave an extended interview were he accused José Luis Astiazarán's presidency of paying up to €300,000 to Eufemiano Fuentes to dope players on the team between 2001 and 2007. [35] [36] [37] José Luis Astiazarán, who was Real Sociedad's president between 2001 and 2005, denied the claims. [38]

Real Sociedad won its third Copa del Rey on 3 April 2021, the nearly year-long delayed 2020 Copa del Rey Final due to COVID-19, in a Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao.

Name and colours

The club's name means "Royal Society of Football" in Spanish. The club's name was changed to Donostia Club de Futbol in 1931 with the advent of the Second Spanish Republic, but changed back to Real Sociedad after the Spanish Civil War in 1939. The club is nicknamed in Basque as Erreala or the txuri-urdin ("white-blue" due to the colours of their kit). The colours stem from the flag of San Sebastián: a blue canton on a white field.


The Spanish Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (Centre of Sociological Investigations) found out that of 2,473 adults interviewed in 49 provinces in 2007, 1.3% of the Spanish population have more feelings for Real Sociedad than any other club, and 1.5% have more feelings for La Real than any other club apart from their favourite. [39]

In appreciation of the value of the supporters to the club – in the words of club president Jokin Aperribay, "The fans are the soul, the nourishment and the reason for Real Sociedad" – the players each wore the name of a randomly selected club member on their shirt for the match against Sevilla in December 2012. [40]





Regional competitions


Current squad

As of 31 August 2021 [42]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

1 GK Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Álex Remiro
2 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Joseba Zaldúa
3 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Martín Zubimendi
4 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Asier Illarramendi (Captain)
5 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Igor Zubeldia
6 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Aritz Elustondo (3rd captain)
7 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Portu
8 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Mikel Merino
9 FW Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Carlos Fernández
10 FW Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Mikel Oyarzabal (vice-captain)
11 MF Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  BEL Adnan Januzaj
12 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Aihen Muñoz
13 GK Flag of Australia (converted).svg  AUS Mathew Ryan
14 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Jon Guridi
15 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Diego Rico
16 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Ander Guevara
18 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Andoni Gorosabel
19 FW Flag of Sweden.svg  SWE Alexander Isak
20 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Nacho Monreal
21 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP David Silva
22 FW Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Ander Barrenetxea
23 FW Flag of Norway.svg  NOR Alexander Sørloth (on loan from RB Leipzig)
24 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Robin Le Normand
26 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Jon Pacheco
29 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Robert Navarro

Reserve team

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

27 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Beñat Turrientes
28 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Roberto López
30 MF Flag of Slovakia.svg  SVK Peter Pokorný
33 DF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Aritz Arambarri
34 GK Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Gaizka Ayesa
35 FW Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Julen Lobete

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

DF Flag of Portugal.svg  POR Kévin Rodrigues (at Rayo Vallecano until 30 June 2022)
DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Modibo Sagnan (at Tondela until 30 June 2022)
MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Martín Merquelanz (at Rayo Vallecano until 30 June 2022)
FW Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Jon Bautista (at Leganés until 30 June 2022)
FW Flag of Brazil.svg  BRA Willian José (at Betis until 30 June 2022)
FW Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Peru Ruiz (at Örgryte IS until 31 December 2021)


Recent seasons

SeasonDiv.Pos.PldWDLGFGAPts Cup Europe Notes
2011–12 1D 12th38121115465247 Round of 16
2012–13 1D 4th3818128704966 Round of 16
2013–14 1D 7th38161111625559 Semi-final UCL Group stage
2014–15 1D 12th38111314445146 Round of 16 UEL Play-off round
2015–16 1D 9th3813916454848 Round of 32
2016–17 1D 6th3819712595364 Quarter-final
2017–18 1D 12th3814717665949 Round of 32 UEL Round of 32
2018–19 1D 9th38131114454650 Round of 16
2019–20 1D 6th3816814564856 Winners
2020–21 1D 5th38171110593862 Round of 16 UEL Round of 32

Season to season

  • As Real Sociedad de Foot-ball
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
1929 1 4th Round of 16
1929–30 1 7th Round of 16
1930–31 1 3rd Round of 32
  • As Donostia Football Club
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
1931–32 1 8th Quarter-finals
1932–33 1 6th Round of 32
1933–34 1 5th Round of 16
1934–35 1 11th Fifth round
1935–36 2 6th First round
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
1939–40 2 1st Round of 16
1940–41 2 1st Semi-finals
1941–42 1 14th Round of 16
1942–43 2 1st Round of 16
1943–44 1 13th Round of 16
1944–45 2 4th Round of 16
1945–46 2 6th First round
1946–47 2 3rd First round
1947–48 1 13th Semi-finals
1948–49 2 1st Quarter-finals
1949–50 1 8th Round of 16
1950–51 1 5th Runners-up
1951–52 1 10th Quarter-finals
1952–53 1 10th Quarter-finals
1953–54 1 9th Quarter-finals
1954–55 1 14thDid not participate
1955–56 1 8th Round of 16
1956–57 1 12th Semi-finals
1957–58 1 9th Semi-finals
1958–59 1 10th Round of 32
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
1959–60 1 14th Round of 16
1960–61 1 8th Round of 16
1961–62 1 15th Round of 32
1962–63 2 4th Round of 32
1963–64 2 6th Round of 16
1964–65 2 4th Semi-finals
1965–66 2 10th Round of 32
1966–67 2 1st Round of 32
1967–68 1 14th Round of 16
1968–69 1 7th Semi-finals
1969–70 1 7th Round of 16
1970–71 1 8th Quarter-finals
1971–72 1 8th Quarter-finals
1972–73 1 7th Fifth round
1973–74 1 4th Round of 16
1974–75 1 4th Quarter-finals
1975–76 1 8th Semi-finals
1976–77 1 8th Round of 16
1977–78 1 11th Semi-finals
1978–79 1 4th Fourth round
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
1979–80 1 2nd Quarter-finals
1980–81 1 1st Round of 16
1981–82 1 1st Semi-finals
1982–83 1 7th Semi-finals
1983–84 1 6th Round of 16
1984–85 1 7th Quarter-finals
1985–86 1 7th Third round
1986–87 1 10th Winners
1987–88 1 2nd Runners-up
1988–89 1 11th Round of 16
1989–90 1 5th Quarter-finals
1990–91 1 13th Round of 16
1991–92 1 5th Fifth round
1992–93 1 13th Quarter-finals
1993–94 1 11th Fifth found
1994–95 1 11th Fourth round
1995–96 1 7th Second round
1996–97 1 8th Second round
1997–98 1 3rd Round of 16
1998–99 1 10th Round of 16
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
1999–2000 1 13th First round
2000–01 1 13th Round of 64
2001–02 1 13th Round of 64
2002–03 1 2nd Round of 64
2003–04 1 15th Round of 32
2004–05 1 14th Round of 32
2005–06 1 16th Third round
2006–07 1 19th Round of 32
2007–08 2 4th Second round
2008–09 2 6th Third round
2009–10 2 1st Second round
2010–11 1 15th Round of 32
2011–12 1 12th Round of 16
2012–13 1 4th Round of 32
2013–14 1 7th Semi-finals
2014–15 1 12th Round of 16
2015–16 1 9th Round of 32
2016–17 1 6th Quarter-finals
2017–18 1 12th Round of 32
2018–19 1 9th Round of 16
SeasonTierDivisionPlace Copa del Rey
2019–20 1 6th Winners
2020–21 1 5th Round of 16
2021–22 1

History in European competitions

Accurate as of 25 February 2021
European Cup / Champions League (4)2686122429−5030.77
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1)413031+2025.00
UEFA Cup / Europa League (11)542412187474+0044.44

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal Difference.



Notable former players

Note: this list includes players that have appeared in at least 100 league games and/or have reached international status.

See also

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