700 games, 39 titles – Real Madrid’s unsung heroes

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

In the star-studded world of Real Madrid, two players have quietly carved out remarkable careers, amassing a combined total of 700 appearances and 39 titles for the club. Yet, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho have often flown under the radar, overshadowed by their more celebrated teammates.

However, in recent weeks, these long-serving veterans have stepped out of the shadows to play pivotal roles in Real Madrid’s march towards another league and European double. Although they may not start the crucial Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich, the last decade has shown that their time will inevitably come, and they will be ready to seize the opportunity.

The Steady Presence of Lucas Vazquez

It was a standout week for Lucas Vazquez, who made a significant impact in two crucial matches for Real Madrid. After coming off the bench during the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City, the 32-year-old was entrusted with taking the third penalty in the shootout. True to his character, Vazquez coolly dispatched his spot-kick, showcasing the unwavering reliability that has defined his career.

Four days later, Vazquez shone even brighter in the El Clasico clash against Barcelona. Deputizing for the injured Dani Carvajal at right-back, Vazquez won the penalty team’s opener, scored the equalizer with a fine first-time finish, and then delivered the cross for Jude Bellingham’s dramatic injury-time winner. The England international’s effusive praise, calling Vazquez a “legend,” was a testament to the winger’s consistent contributions.

Bellingham (right) says Vasquez is a "legend"
Bellingham (right) says Vasquez is a “legend”

Throughout the last decade, Vazquez’s steady presence down the right flank, whether as a traditional winger or a marauding full-back, has been a constant feature of Real Madrid’s ever-evolving team. Born in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, Vazquez joined the club’s youth setup at the age of 16 and has since established himself as a reliable and versatile player.

After a successful loan spell at Espanyol in 2014-15, Vazquez has been a consistent presence in the Real Madrid squad, making at least 30 appearances in every season except 2019-20, when he missed time due to a broken toe. While he has rarely been a regular starter, Vazquez has always been prepared to patiently wait for his turn and deliver when called upon, earning the appreciation of his teammates and the coaching staff.

With his contract expiring this summer, Vazquez is reportedly close to agreeing a new deal to extend his Bernabeu stay, a testament to his value and the club’s desire to retain his services.

The Indispensable Nacho

Another unsung hero in Real Madrid’s recent success is Nacho, who played a pivotal role in the team’s victory over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals. Nacho not only delivered an outstanding performance to shackle Erling Haaland but also scored the fourth penalty in the shootout, sending Ederson the wrong way with an emphatic shot.

Nacho’s importance to the team has been amplified in recent months, as long-term injuries to Eder Militao and David Alaba have seen him join Antonio Rudiger in Carlo Ancelotti’s first-choice central defensive pairing. The Italian coach’s trust in Nacho was evident when the club refused to rush into the transfer market, instead placing their confidence in the versatile defender to step up.

Ancelotti has been a staunch advocate of Nacho’s abilities, praising him as a “pessimistic” defender who is always expecting the worst to happen, allowing him to anticipate and snuff out moments of danger that others might not foresee.

Nacho has been part of the Real Madrid setup since 2001
Nacho has been part of the Real Madrid setup since 2001

Nacho’s success is even more remarkable considering that he was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 12, just a year after joining Real Madrid’s youth setup. Despite the initial advice to stop playing football, Nacho ignored the recommendation and credits his condition for helping his career develop, as it forced him to take responsibility for his body and diet at an early age.

The 34-year-old Nacho is also out of contract this summer, and while he is much less likely to renew his deal amid speculation of moves to Italy or the United States, the prospect of bowing out by lifting the Champions League trophy would be the perfect finale to his long and distinguished career at the Bernabeu.

As Real Madrid continue their pursuit of domestic and European glory, the unsung contributions of Lucas Vazquez and Nacho have become increasingly vital. Their dedication, versatility, and unwavering commitment to the club have earned them the respect of their teammates and the admiration of the fans. While they may not command the same spotlight as their more celebrated counterparts, these two players have undoubtedly cemented their place as Real Madrid legends in their own right.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *