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Jonathan Woodgate has opened up about time at Real Madrid and the bizarre lengths Los Blancos went to in an attempt to get him fit.
Woodgate was one of England's most promising centre backs as a youngster and moved from Leeds United to Newcastle United in 2003.
He'd spend one season on Tyneside before making one of the strangest transfers in history. Woodgate was snapped up by Real in a £13 million deal and it looked to be a dream come true. It quickly turned into a nightmare, though.
Fitness issues ravaged much of Woodgate's career and they were perhaps at their worst during his time in the Spanish capital.
Real quickly realised something had to be done and insisted Woodgate try a variety of methods to get fit again.
While speaking on the Original Penguin X Campaign Against Living Miserably Under The Surface podcast, Woodgate confessed: "In Madrid I was doing 1,000 sit-ups a day trying to strengthen my core and my back, and was thinking to myself '1,000 sit ups a day. Jheez. How was that going to get me fit?'".
"If anything it was going to cause me more trouble in my back, so in the end I went back to my old physio at Leeds who got me fit.
"I had physio, Botox, injections. There was one time they bought this fella over who had written to the club saying he could get me fit. He boiled some grass, put it in clingfilm and wrapped it round my leg.
"I was thinking to myself 'what?! I’m at Real Madrid and you’re putting grass on me'. He looked like Captain Birdseye! I started wondering if the club thought it was all in my mind and I’m not really that bad?
"Scans weren’t showing anything, but I knew I wasn’t alright because I couldn’t run, so I started thinking psychologically 'Do they think I’m deluded? Do they think I’m soft? Do they think I’m lying?'"
It took Woodgate a full year to make his debut for Real. He officially signed on August 20, 2004 and wouldn't take to the Santiago Bernabeu pitch in a competitive match until September 22, 2005.
You're all probably aware of how it went. Woodgate scored an own goal and was sent off for a second booking against Athletic Bilbao.
All in all, he made 14 appearances for Real before joining boyhood side Middlesbrough on loan in 2006. A year later, he'd make that permanent.
Woodgate looks back at his time with Real as a 'failure', but was still disappointed he wasn't there to win La Liga in 2007.
"The year I left, they won La Liga, and I’m not gonna lie, I was absolutely devastated because I wasn’t there," Woodgate admitted. "But I got back fit playing for Boro and back in the England squad, and the one thing about me as a player was that I would never give up, always kept on going and tried to find something within."
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