The great aspiration of Nacho, 31, is something from another era: to become a one club man, one of those few players who complete their entire career in a team. Last Friday marked the tenth anniversary of his debut in the first team. However, he was on the verge of not starting his story with Real Madrid due to a family decision. A few weeks after coming into contact with the white quarry, he announced that he was not going to return. He was about ten years old and had been shortlisted to go to the old Sports City on Saturday afternoons to play what was formerly known as the Social Tournament, the great nursery of the entity.
There was Rodolfo de la Rubia, coach of the lower categories in Vicente del Bosque’s organization chart. “I had no obligation to be there, but Vicente encouraged us to attend these tests and I liked it. Nacho had especially caught my attention, I had seen him two or three times, and one day I found out that he was going to leave him. So, it was the first and only time in my six years at Madrid that I called Del Bosque to intercede ”. And so it happened.
The still head of the quarry telephoned Chema, Nacho’s father, who was concerned that his son, such a small boy, had so many training sessions a week (five) among his team from Alcalá, the Complutense, in which he was still , and Madrid. In the home of the Fernández-Iglesias they had decided that he should give up the latter. They met and, in that personal meeting, Del Bosque shared the family’s concern and informed him that his son, that “tall and thin” boy, could join the white club full time under the command of Rodolfo de la Rubia in the Alevín B. Twenty years of that until today becoming an element on the rise of a team that faces this Tuesday (9:00 p.m., Movistar Champions League) the first leg of the Champions League semifinals against Chelsea (the return, on Wednesday 5 in London ).
“I had my eye on him because he was very good at dosing the effort and playing with overwhelming confidence for his age. He always reached the level demanded by his rival and handled both legs with ease. And look ”, warns De la Rubia proudly,“ his father, with whom I became friends, told me that six or seven years later a Castilla coach made the same observation ”.
In the professional world, there has been another expression that has accompanied him and that has not suited the player himself or his close circle so well: “Nacho always delivers.” A phrase halfway between the recognition and paternalism that has been associated with him since his debut in 2011 at Mestalla (3-6) in a day between the wars, never better said, because it took place in the middle of that abrasive sequence of four classics in a row. Now, ten years after his silent premiere in such a tumultuous time, the defender is experiencing his “best season”, as he himself has confessed.
In Real Madrid’s streak of 17 consecutive games without losing, no field player has more starts and minutes than him. Only a week ago the Getafe duel for cards was lost. Nacho has been the substitute so far for Sergio Ramos (the captain continued this Sunday with his recovery process) and, contrary to what was the norm of the house, in this sequence of meetings without the Sevillian, far from opening a hole, the goal own has been closed tight. In the absence of more offensive production, as Zidane lamented on Saturday after drawing against Betis (0-0), the whites have four clean sheets in a row. The participation of Nacho, along with the general application and the stretches of Courtois, have been significant so that the defensive numbers in this burst are better, even, than in the post-confinement: 0.47 goals against against the 0.54 of the decisive stretch of the past course.
Never in this decade has it had so much weight and so continuous. It began in November by tying Lukaku short and has been confirmed in 2021, a surge that has multiplied its price in the market just a few months after it seriously studied its departure to Italy. Now his letters, although he does not raise his voice much, are different: “Madrid makes some decisions [en referencia a la renovación de Ramos y el posible fichaje de otros centrales] and then I will take mine in agreement with the coach, my family and the club ”, he said three weeks ago about a future that links him to Castellana, in principle, until 2022.
At Chelsea, a fellow promotion partner, Marcos Alonso, awaits him. If Nacho was called so that he would not leave the merengue quarry, this second did not convince at all, remembers Rodolfo de la Rubia. “Was very small. They wanted to give it up. I told them that, if only for the quality and the genes [hijo del barcelonista Marcos Alonso y nieto del madridista Marquitos, cinco veces campeón de Europa], you had to stay with him. So it was. Now it measures 1.88 ”. Eight more than the white defender.