Just a night later, Jese Rodriguez will feature in an emotional return to Santiago Bernabeu. But things could have been well and truly different for the former Los Blancos winger.
Jese Rodriguez was something sort of Real’s next big thing in 2011. Sadly for Jese, the man in charge Jose Mourinho wasn’t someone who entrusted youngsters easily.
Eventually, though, hard work paid off for the youngster. Carlo Ancelotti gave more chances, and he didn’t disappoint. With a Copa del Rey and a Champions League title to his name, Jese looked a promising footballer. He scored five goals and assisted 4 in his 18 league appearances that season.
But it was all downhill for the Spaniard from then onwards. Once in a mix up for a Spanish call-up, injuries pushed him steps backward, and he has failed to live up to the same level again.
He recalls his injury and tries to gather some positivity from the terrible incident. He said: ‘I had a very tough time, but I think that things in life happen for a reason. Maybe I had the injury because I needed to learn and become a more mature footballer.
On his return, he was way down the pecking order. His next manager, Zinedine Zidane used him as a backup in another successful European campaign, and the winger was frustrated with the lack of opportunities.
Off to Paris
Consequently, in the summer, he was off to Paris at another top club as he looked to spark his career back again.
Rodriguez is highly rated within Madrid ranks – so much that the Los Blancos management thought it was necessary to include an anti-Barcelona clause in his contract.
In France, Jese wasn’t able to impress his boss Unai Emery either. The former Sevilla boss dropped the winger amidst suggestions of a loan move.
In the January transfer window, Jese moved to Las Palmas as he looks to utilize his increased playing time for the club.
Things haven’t gone as expected at Las Palmas either. He has lost all four matches he has played for the club and is yet to score. At Madrid, though he’s no more a Real player, fans want their golden boy to perform at his best again with tomorrow an exception.
Once a Golden Real Madrid boy
A direct threat with brilliant control of the ball, Jese is a genuine threat to Real Madrid causes on the night. His former manager Zinedine Zidane acknowledged that. However, there are no regrets in the sale of their wonder boy.
For Jese though, his Real Madrid return brings back the fond memories. He almost made it – but an injury proved to be a major obstacle.
He admitted of severe consequences the damage left to his Real Madrid stint: ‘It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reality that the injury puts the brakes on my career and my personal life and after that everything was much harder. Playing consistently and feeling sure about myself is much more challenging now.’
Tomorrow, it’s a time for Jese to prove he can turn the game around on his own. He will have an extra impetus to perform on a ground he dreamt of being a star player for.
Real Madrid fans saw their club’s future in the 24-year-old when he appeared in his CL debut against Copenhagen. 4 years and 2 Champions League titles later, they face one of their own in a match they must win on Wednesday.