Predrag Mijatovic: 1998 Champions League win transformed Real Madrid

Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero evaluates the success of former teammate Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid’s manager.

Predrag Mijatovic has said Real Madrid’s 1998 Champions League win over Juventus marked a change “from black and white into colour” at the club.

Mijatovic scored the decisive goal as Madrid won European football’s biggest trophy for a seventh time, with the 1-0 win ending a 32-year wait after the sixth triumph.

And as Madrid aim to lift the trophy for a 12th time against Juventus in Cardiff on Saturday, Mijatovic told AS: “After you have retired you talk to more fans, you realise you have done something really special.

“Not just having scored the goal, but the importance that win had for the club. It was like passing from black and white into colour.

“We boasted a lot about having won trophies, but there was no recent Champions League. It was a huge weight lifted, and I scored the goal. It was the best dream, the perfect script.”

Mijatovic recalled that the 1997-98 La Liga season had been poor for Madrid as they finished fourth, and said few had believed Jupp Heynckes’ side were capable of a “transformation” in Europe.

“Nobody imaged we would reach the final,” he said. “But we realised we were in very good form and could do something big.

“In La Liga it was a disaster. Today, I still cannot explain it to you. It was incredible — we were like two different teams.”

He added that although Madrid had not been favourites to win, their hunger had been decisive.

“We were not favourites, and we knew it,” he said. “Juve were Italian champions, playing their third final in a row, with more experience.

“We had one thing in our favour — our motivation and desire to enter into the history of the most important club in the world.”

Many Juventus fans have maintained that Mijatovic was offside when he scored, but he said: “Then, they did not have the technology of today, but I am convinced it was a legal goal.”

Predrag Mijatovic scored the vital goal in 1998.

Edgar Davids, a member of the losing Juventus team, told AS his former club would face a tough task on Saturday.

“Madrid are not unbeatable, but they have two or three players who make the difference,” he said.

“They have one called Cristiano Ronaldo, and we have already seen him score three against Atletico. That is the problem.

“Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain are good players, but they are not at Ronaldo’s level.”

Davids said he felt his former teammate Gianluigi Buffon should win this season’s Ballon d’Or, saying the goalkeeper had been “decisive against Barcelona, Monaco, and in many games this season.”

He added: “He deserves it regardless of the final result.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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