FC Halifax Town: The day Shaymen midfielder Summerfield took on the mighty Real Madrid

Luke Summerfield was an 18-year-old midfielder with just two senior appearances under his belt when he was part of the Plymouth team that played Real Madrid 15 years ago.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:56 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 3:02 pm
Action from Plymouth's friendly with Real Madrid on July 21, 2006. Photo: Markus Leodolter (MARKUS LEODOLTER/AFP via Getty Images)

The game was the first in charge for future England manager Fabio Capello, who had previously taken teams to the Schloss Pichlarn retreat in Irding, Austria, where Plymouth had already made a booking.

So in order to use the venue with his new club, Capello offered to take care of the costs of the Argyle tour with the added bonus of a friendly match if the English side agreed to move.

At a press conference before the game, when Argyle boss Ian Holloway was asked about the fixture, he literally fell of his chair.

Action from Plymouth's friendly with Real Madrid on July 21, 2006. Photo: Markus Leodolter (MARKUS LEODOLTER/AFP via Getty Images)

Summerfield, who started the game, said: “We were in a pre-season camp in Austria, and we got told they wanted our hotel or our training camp, and we said ‘that’s fine as long as we can have a game’.

“We knew some of the big-hitters weren’t there because it was an international tournament that summer.

“It was strange to be playing them but once you’re there you just enjoy the game and get on with it.

“We had two elevens playing 45 minutes each.

“Every time I speak to the players who were involved, it’s nice to reflect on it.

“You mention it when you see them again, and then when people ask you who’s the best players you played against, who have you played against, it’s always at the fore-front of my thoughts.”

Capello fielded a strong side, with Jonathan Woodgate, Ivan Helguera, Antonio Cassano and Guti all playing.

The sides were only separated by Julio Baptista’s 75th minute penalty after Luc Nalis’ handball.

“They had Guti, (Thomas) Gravesen and (Julio) Baptiste, and you think ‘wow, this is going to be some experience, I’ll try and get as much of the ball as I can in the warm-up because I don’t think I’ll have a lot of it in the game!’”

“It finished 1-0, it was 0-0 at half-time, but it was just a great occasion.

“It was never going to be a game where you go ratting about and kicking people, it was just a nice, pre-season game to enjoy who you’re playing against, because those games don’t come round a lot.

“It was just nice to play against Real Madrid and some world-class footballers.”

Summerfield also managed to get a momento from the game.

“I got Pavon’s shirt, the centre-half. Everybody was after all the big-hitters, but I was just really happen to get a shirt, and something to keep and look back on over the years.”