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Lucas Vázquez’s irregular and inspirational ascent

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From Castilla unknown to invaluable asset, it’s hard to not be happy for Lucas and his new contract.

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Lucas Vázquez was never a wonder-kid. He never vied for a Golden Boy award, he was never touted as “the next (insert historic great’s name)”, and his cap total for La Roja sits at a paltry three. Lucas Vázquez was just some kid from Galicia who was scooped up by Real Madrid as a youngster.

Álvaro Morata and Lucas Vázquez are the same age, and came up through La Fábrica together. In 2013, when Morata was making the leap to the first team, Lucas Vázquez watched in silence. Morata spent that spring delivering assists in El Clásico, while Vázquez was captaining a Castilla team doomed for relegation.

A year later in 2014, Zinedine Zidane took over as Real Madrid Castilla coach, and two months beyond that Lucas was sent on loan to Espanyol. It felt like the next step in a journey into mid-table obscurity for Vázquez, a fine fate, but he seemed set to become just another Real Madrid reject.

It’s hard to figure out who deserves the most credit in Lucas’ return to Madrid. Did Rafa Benítez see something in him and bring him back? Or was Zidane’s decision to send him on loan to Espanyol a vote of confidence, not a condemnation?

The stigma that follows substitution specialists is that they’re not technically gifted, or that they’re out there just to fatigue opponents. Lucas Vázquez is not that player. Yes, he runs like mad and seems to always find the action, but he’s as technically gifted as most wingers in Europe. Just yesterday, he celebrated his new contract with some nice footwork en route to an assist to Marco Asensio. Nowadays, he’s reunited with Morata, and they’ve been running rampant late in games, not just creating chances but also finishing them.

For a perfect embodiment of who Lucas Vázquez is, revisit his goal against Legia Warsaw. Navas scoops up the ball, and Lucas immediately gets on the break. He runs the length of the pitch to catch up to the ball, hits a volley into the net, and pats the badge on his jersey in celebration. He knew when to run, where to run, and when the ball came in, he had the confidence and ability to finish.

Lucas has become a fan-favorite for his exuberant confidence, the way he’s always the first to dog pile on a teammate who’s just scored, his unending Madrismo.

At the San Siro in May, Lucas was the first player to take that long, long walk from midfield to the penalty spot. It’s incredible that Zidane sent him out first in the biggest moment of the season, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale waiting with bated breath. Lucas validated his boss’ confidence in him by slotting home the opening penalty, and oh yeah, he celebrated with his kit.

We don’t know how or why Lucas is so driven and determined. He grew up in Curtis, Galicia, population: 4,200. Maybe to play in Madrid (population 3.1 million) is just a surreal dream come true, maybe he’s taken motivation from always being second-best, or maybe the idea of leaving hasn’t even occurred to him.

Lucas’ story is an inspirational one, a testament to resiliency and dedication. Many are penciling him in as a super-sub for the future, but if history’s any indicator, Lucas won’t be content with just that.