clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Story of a Boy with a Ball - A Tribute to Álvaro Morata

Adiós Amigo

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Álvaro Borja Morata Martín was born in the Spanish Capital itself; the city of Madrid where the world’s greatest club is based. From an early age, Morata was obsessed with football. Morata’s love affair with football started at a time when the size of the ball was bigger than him. As revealed by Morata’s family; the young Spaniard had the ball with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner. He even slept with ball and brought it to class with him.

At the tender age of 13, Morata had offers from both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, however pertaining to his poor grades, Morata’s father refused to let him join either club. After consistent persistence Morata eventually joined Atletico Madrid. Young Álvaro then entered a phase in life where he did not enjoy football anymore. As shocking as it seemed, the boy who slept with a ball was really no longer interested in the sport.

Morata then tried his hand in Tennis. A sport that he claims, he was better at than he was in football. But, ultimately did not pursue the sport citing his lack of patience and the mentality needed to succeed in the Tennis.

After a spell with Mexican side Zona Norte, Morata was able to enjoy football once again as he outscored everyone and was the best of the bunch. He quit Atletico Madrid and joined Getafe, after which shortly, Real Madrid came calling.

Morata joined the Real Madrid family in 2008. Going through all the stages which included spells at Real Madrid C, Real Madrid B (Real Madrid Castilla) and finally the Real Madrid senior side.

Morata scores for Real Madrid Castilla

Alvaro Morata won the UEFA Euro Under 19 Championship (2011) and Euro Under 21 Championship (2013) where he won the Golden Boot in both occasions.

The taste of first team football for Morata was brought by the self-proclaimed special one; Jose Mourinho who took him to the preseason tour of the United States of America along with the senior team. Morata made his debut against on 12th December 2010 against Real Zaragoza coming on for Angel Di Maria.

Morata Makes His Debut For the Real Madrid Senior Side

In the 2011-12 season, Morata scored his first official goal for the senior side against Levante UD. In the 2012-13 season, he played the entire 90 minutes in El Clasico on 2nd March 2013, where he assisted Karim Benzema for the winner (2-1) against Football Club Barcelona.

With talented Strikers in Real Madrid’s pipeline in the form of Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema, it was always going to be an uphill task for Real Madrid’s prodigy to break into the starting XI. After the departure of ‘El Pipita’ in 2013, Morata found himself in match squads regularly and even won the Champions League and Copa del Rey with Carlo Ancelloti’s Real Madrid.

However, the playing time required for a young and talented prospect like Morata was not enough for him to grow as a player. It was evident Morata would always be the reserve striker behind the proven and world class Karim Benzema.

Top European Clubs caught on the fact that Morata yearned for playing time. As Real Madrid’s 2013/14 folded, 21 year old Alvaro was subjected to several offers from other top tier clubs. Out of which an offer from ‘The Old Lady’ caught Morata’s interest. Juventus offered him adequate playing time in their lineup. Madrid although reluctant at first had to give in and approve Morata’s transfer.

It is important to understand that Morata did not want to leave the club of his dreams out of sheer frustration and anger, but to gain more experience and hone his skills to be deserving of Real Madrid. Even when he was with Juventus, Morata frequently enquired if there has been any form of communication from Los Vikingos.

Morata’s Juventus Presentation

Morata was welcomed with loving arms by Juventus fans and the city of Turin (where Juventus is based). His presentation was attended by thousands as he promised his new family that he would do justice by the trust Juventus had placed in him.

Soon, things took a turn for the worst for Madrid’s prodigal son as he got injured in only his second training after he collided with Reserve Goalkeeper Rubinho and the latter fell on Morata’s legs, hurting his knees, thereby putting him out of action for 50 days.

Life was not easy for the young Spaniard, with a shot knee, dental problems and difficulty in adapting to the Italian side of football, Morata felt miserable and all alone away from his family and friends in Madrid.

Soon, it was time for the draw of the Semi Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid, Football Club Barcelona, Bayern Munchen and Juventus had qualified for the Semi Final berths. As fate would have it, Morata’s team Juventus would draw Real Madrid.

Morata was having his lunch as he watched the draw on live television and when he found out that it was the club of his dreams that he would be facing, he was unable to swallow another ounce of food and threw up immediately.

Morata scored in both legs against Real Madrid. The second leg took place in the Santiago Bernabeu, the stadium where he had dreamed his whole life of playing for his dream club; Real Madrid. Morata crushed the hearts of millions of Madridistas, when his goal painfully knocked out Real Madrid of the Semi-Final of the 2014-15 Champions League. While he refused to celebrate the goal out of respect, Morata proved to his old club and the world that he was more than ready for the big stages of world football.

A Bullet For My Valentine
Morata refuses to celebrate his goal that showed Real Madrid the door

Morata along with Juventus went ahead to face FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final in Berlin. While Morata scored, their bid for the title of the European Champions in club level was unsuccessful.

Beauty & Grumpy

Morata’s second season with Juventus was as incredible as his first one, winning back to back Serie A and Copa Italia titles. But, that was not all that happened in that season. Morata met Alice Campello; the love of his life. Alice is credited by Morata himself to have changed his life for the better. He felt that his performance had vastly improved with Alice on his side. Morata was presented with the player of the month (Serie A) which he revealed wouldn’t have been possible without his lady love.

While Morata was doing really well for himself, he felt he did not enjoy certain dynamics of the Old Lady; the ways of training and the style of football that was played there. Morata desired for the Real Madrid way.

While the footballing season of 2015-16 season folded, the UEFA EURO 2016 tournament opened up. During which he was informed that Real Madrid had decided to activate their buy-back clause for Morata, which meant that the prodigal son of Madrid was coming home after spending 2 years in Italy.

In the above video, Morata is barely able to hold his tears during his presentation.

While Morata couldn’t be happier to be back to the club of his life and dreams, it was evident from the start that he would be the reserve/back up striker to French Striker Karim Benzema. Most of Morata’s appearances would be off the bench and whenever he started, it would be against lesser threatening opponents.

That’s not to say that Morata and his contributions did not matter. Morata brought 13 huge points for Madrid without which winning La Liga couldn’t have been humanly possible. Morata also registered a goal per 89 minutes ratio.

Morata was capable of doing this

Real Madrid won their record extending 33rd La Liga title this season. Zidane’s men also won their record extending 12th Champions League title this season; thereby becoming the first club to win back to back titles both in the European Cup and the Champions League Era.

So, the question here is why would Morata want to leave the greatest and most successful club in human history? More importantly, why would Morata want to leave the very club for which he as a child, made his parents stop their car outside the Santiago Bernabeu traffic signal and point towards the historic stadium and dream to one day play there? Why would Morata not want to play in the club where his idols Raul Gonzalez and Fernando Morientes made history?

In my personal opinion, while the simple answer would be of course ‘not enough playing time’ or ‘no starting spot’. Morata has done absolutely no wrong on his part. He delivered whenever he was presented with the limited opportunities that came his way.

One argument that makes little to no sense is that Morata decided to leave, because he lacked the Madrismo of those of his Castilla batchmates like Nacho, Lucas Vazquez and Carvajal.

Morata does not lack Madrismo one bit. One only has to hear or read how he talks about Real Madrid to have a clear understanding of his Madrismo. Morata dreamed his entire life to make history with Real Madrid. It is a sad reality that he has to leave the club of his dreams. He is a through and through Madridista and will forever be one.

Another argument that holds no weight either is that to be an undisputed starter as a number 9 in Real Madrid, you don’t have to only score goals, but should be able to compliment Cristiano Ronaldo. While that maybe a good point and that is something Karim Benzema excels in, it is very wrong to blatantly state that Alvaro Morata wouldn’t be able to do the same, when he was given little to no opportunities to prove himself in that regard.

It wouldn’t be wise to doubt the ability or the talent of Zidane’s first choice striker; Karim Benzema. However, if you look at the world through the eyes of Morata, he left in 2014 because he was young and unfurnished and as a result did not have the trust of Don Ancelloti. He spent 2 years in Italy to establish himself as one of the top strikers currently in world football today. After coming back to his home, it was the same story once again, only this time with Zinedine Zidane.

Alvaro Morata is not a fresh Castilla graduate anymore. He is an established striker who at 24 years old is at the peak of his abilities. At this time in his career, Morata sees himself as a player who is good enough to start important games like the Champions League Final or an El Clasico even. He sees himself starting all games when fit and banging in 30-40 goals per season.

On a personal note, I am heartbroken to see Morata leave. While it was pretty inevitable that he would leave, it’s never the same when it happens. Being a Real Madrid fan since 2006, I have witnessed several players leave. Many were players with who I had an emotional connection with.

But, football is a cruel sport. You never know when the player you hold so dear and near to your heart might just get transferred. I had originally thought my past experiences with seeing members of my Real Madrid family depart would lessen the blow and hurt that would come with Morata’s departure. But, I was dead wrong. It hit me hard.

A Madridista Forever

Morata, a child born and brought up in Madrid itself, was destined to make history here. More importantly, he wanted to make history here leading from the front and not just as a back-up striker. Something that won’t be possible in the Spanish Capital anymore.

While Morata may not have been with Real Madrid long enough to command legendary status, he is extremely saddened by the tough decision he had to take of leaving Real Madrid.

Everything he did with Juventus for 2 years was to make himself good enough for Los Vikingos. To make a decision to leave only after a year of his arrival when he had hoped things would be different this time around, must have been taken a toll on his heart and mind.

While he might thrive and achieve everything he wanted with Real Madrid in Chelsea’s Blue jersey, it would be a lie to say it’s the same.

Farewell Moratoski!
Never Grow Up Álvaro!

While ofcourse no player is bigger than the club and Zidane favouring Big Benzema ahead of Morata is for the club’s best interest.

So maybe, in the end it doesn’t even matter.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid