Two months ago, Real Madrid TV launched their new original program called Campo de Estrellas, which focuses on current Real Madrid players (both football and basketball players) and their life and stories. Each episode, which is broadcasted each Thursday at 10.30pm CET, is dedicated to only one player and it covers their upbringing, youth and their eventual road to Real Madrid.
It is a wonderful program that gives great insight into the lives of each one of the players. It helps fans to connect with the players and see them in perhaps different light. They are no longer the detached billionaires playing on the field who should be accustomed to getting booed and whistled.
It's a cliche, but they are human beings often coming from a very humble beginnings, as our captain Sergio Ramos had to remind the press before the second leg of UEFA Champions League semifinals: 'It seems people think we were all born in Beverly Hills’. When you watch some of these stories, you realize that the players are very much aware how fortunate they are.
So far, we’ve see Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Álvaro Morata, Lucas Vázquez, and Marcelo featuring in Campo de Estrellas; and last Thursday it was Raphael Varane's turn.
I used to be scared of playing for a team. I used to play with my brother in the garden and I didn't know what it was to be part of a team. My dad made me do it. I went and I enjoyed the first day so much that from then on, I always wanted to play.
Getting picked up by Lens
I went for trials and a few weeks later they called me back and said they wanted me. The problem was the distance and it was a real challenge for me. I had to get changed in the car. My parents have always been there to motivate me and help me out. I had my goals very clear and always did everything I could to achieve them. They were the ones who offered me my first professional contract.
At 17 years old I was playing with the club's second team and after five games the coach made me captain, with players around me who were 21 or 22 years old. I was the youngest, it was a strange feeling. But after seven games the first team coach called me up to train with them.
When Real Madrid came calling
I was at college and Zizou called but I picked up the phone without really knowing who it was. He spoke to me and told me that it wasn't a joke, that it was really him. I said: 'Who is this?'. And I recognized the voice. I was embarrassed and it was such a surprise that I asked him if he could call back another time because I was busy. You imagine a lot of things, but never Real Madrid. They were so big to me that I never even thought about it. In the end, I decided to come here.
I'll always remember the day I arrived at the airport and there were loads of journalists waiting. I was just thinking about going to the club to sign and I didn't expect such excitement, so much energy to see a player. I understood then where I was coming to. When I saw the European Cups, the stadium, the city… it was like a dream, a very special moment.
His early days in Real Madrid and the support from senior players
My first memory was of the Bernabéu dressing room. I stood alone looking at the lockers and saying to myself: ‘These are my teammates now, it's unbelievable'. They welcomed me brilliantly into the dressing room. The support Benzema and Diarra gave me was important and they've always done all they can to help me out. At 18, without them knowing me, I had to show them that I was capable of sharing a dressing room with them.
First game and goal
It was against Galatasaray and I couldn't stop looking at the fans. I was very focussed and I don't remember much of the game. My first goal was an indescribable moment. It was a strange thing. For five or six seconds afterwards I didn't hear a sound. I was in another world, a world of emotions. I wanted to score again to hear the fans. I was the third-youngest player at the club to make a Champions League debut.
His first El Clásico which turned to be the game of his life
It all went perfectly. I couldn't have dreamed it better. I felt great, really comfortable. It was my first game against Barcelona at home and I scored a goal. I had a good game defensively. Against Messi, I tried to anticipate the move because otherwise it was very difficult to stop him.
I knew I was going to play beforehand. I went for a siesta and I couldn't sleep. There was a lot of pressure and tension. People had been waiting so long for La Décima but it was the most enjoyable and emotional game I've ever played in.
His knee injury
It's been the first tough moment of my career. It's part of the life of a professional footballer and it's always disappointing. It was a difficult period but it made me stronger. I was eager to get back and be at 100%.
What Real Madrid means to him
It's a club where there are always things out of the ordinary happening, it's not like other clubs. They've won 11 European Cups and that's just incredible. It's a special relationship with the Champions League. Coming to Madrid was a dream come true.
When you see how our stadium gets behind us in a difficult European Cup game, that must be so difficult for our opponents. We've all got more energy and that comes across when we take to the pitch. Winning two Champions Leagues in three years is a historic feat. I'll never get used to winning the Champions League. It's unique. That's the beautiful thing about football, you win one title but you always want more.