What Does 'La Décima' Mean?

Gareth Bale holds the Champions League trophy aloft
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The term La Décima (meaning 10th in Spanish) is a phrase used to describe Real Madrid’s obsession with winning a 10th European Cup, a feat it accomplished in the 2013-2014 season. The Spanish squad defeated Atlético Madrid, another Madrid-based team, to take the title that year. Since then, as of April 2018, Real Madrid has claimed the European Cup twice more, in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, for a total of 12 European Cups.

"La Décima" History

Normally, in proper Spanish grammar, la décima would be lowercased unless it starts a sentence, as it would be in English since it is composed of an article la (the) and a common noun decima (tenth). But, Real Madrid, arguably Spain's top soccer squad—and indeed one of the top soccer squads in the world—had struggled to win a 10th European Cup.

Real Madrid, a club with a long and proud history in Europe, had not won a European Cup (now called the Champions League) since claiming the trophy for a ninth time in 2002. They ended their 12-year wait in the 2014 final against city rivals Atletico Madrid, triumphing 4-1 after extra time. The 12-year span between European Cup victories Nos. 9 and 10 had led to something of an anguished and expectant wait for the seemingly mythic and elusive 10th cup.

Winning "La Décima"

Millions had been spent in the quest to win a 10th trophy, and it was the club’s two most expensive players—Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo—who netted two of the goals in extra-time. Earlier Sergio Ramos had scored a decisive last-minute equalizer in normal time, and Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior (better known as Marcelo) was also on target, scoring the club's third goal in extra time, as Real Madrid eventually overwhelmed its neighbors to achieve La Décima.

What They Said

The victory to claim what to this day is still known simply as La Décima was so meaningful that key figures in the contest spoke of their feelings about the match, with Real Madrid's coach using only the phrase when referring to the victory.

"La Décima was really special because, from the first day I arrived at Madrid, everyone was talking about it. It had been a long time—12 years since the last European Cup—that the club had been fighting to win it, and as soon as I arrived, it was the only thing that people would talk about."
- Coach Carlo Ancelotti
"It was an unforgettable moment. It was a dream come true; not only being chosen as the best player in the final, but also the fact we won the Champions League (aka the European Cup), something every player wants to achieve. It was a very, very emotional match—we were close to losing it but in the end we won. It was really crazy what happened. It is a very nice memory which will stay in my mind for the rest of my life."
- Man-of-the-Match Angel Di Maria
"It is what every footballer dreams of and it doesn't come bigger in club football. The celebration of the crowd meant everything to me, but the most important thing is we worked hard as a team and won the trophy and the 10th title for the club."
- ​Gareth Bale