Barcelona and Manchester United may wish to dispute the observation, but Real Madrid are the world's greatest football club. Setting emotion and preferences aside, the facts speak for themselves. Within the trophy room, the gold and silver spoils of a hundred years wink and shimmer in the tasteful lighting - indisputable evidence of football's conquistadores rubbing the world's noses into the dirt. They include 28 League titles, nine European Cups, 12 Spanish Cups, two UEFA Cups and two World Club Championship titles. Their stunning victory in this year's Champions League dispelled any lingering doubts as to their supremacy, and set the club up nicely for the century ahead. The story of Real Madrid's first 101 years is, however, much more than the mere sum of its achievements. The club has always attracted the biggest names in the game. Now they have Zidane, Ronaldo and Beckham, but there have been legends present every step of the way, including Alfredo Di Stefano, an Argentine who changed the shape of European football and Spain's political standing in post-war Europe.
Before him there was the controversial goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, considered "more famous than Garbo, and better looking". But more than anything else, almost 30 years after Franco's death, Real Madrid still represents the bullish concept of 'Madridismo' - the idea that nothing else really matters outside the solid walls of the Bernabeu. "White Storm" charts the history of the club from its foundations to the golden period of Di Stefano and Puskas, from the "hippy years" to the latest embodiment of Madridismo - Raul, ending with an analysis of the arrival of David Beckham and what it might mean for the future of the club.
Phil Ball is the author of The Hapless Teacher's Handbook and the celebrated Morbo- The Story of Spanish Football. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1991.