Blog by: Bharath
It is May 20th, 2007. We are at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, the home of Levante Football Club on a sunny afternoon. A young 22-year-old twists away from a Levante player in his own half, and fires the ball high and deep into the opposition goal, and in it goes, from much behind the half way mark.
The young lad completes a brilliant hat-trick as Osasuna Football Club, the visitors, run away with a comprehensive 4-1 victory. Meet Roberto Soldado, the unsung hero of Spanish football.
Hailing from the Valencia province of Spain, Roberto Soldado rose through the youth ranks at Real Madrid and muscled himself into the first team, but could never get an assured starting place thanks to the Galactico policy at Madrid, that of bringing in superstars from outside to play.
A subsequent year-long loan spell to Osasuna F.C. and a year later, he was shipped off to Getafe. Soldado found his touch at Getafe, scoring 33 goals in 66 matches for the club, making his mark as a world class striker.
The consistent performances there still never earned him a proper Spanish national team call up, thanks to the national team’s new way of playing under Vicente Del Bosque, who usually employed a striker-less formation or rather, lay emphasis on the use of many midfielders.
Even when they did employ the striker, he was way down in the pecking order below Fernando Torres, David Villa, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Negredo. However, his prolific club form made him move for a big club , Valencia, in the summer of 2010.
Valencia was where Soldado truly hit his scorching form, amassing a whopping 81 goals in 141 appearances for the club, an incredible goal-game ratio of 0.57! But sadly, Soldado never got the attention he deserved.
When we talk of today’s world class strikers, the names o f Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, Robert Lewandowski, Gonzalo Higuain, Robin Van Persie, Mario Gomez pop up, but ever heard a mention of this lad’s name? Nah!
A clinical striker, with a lethal right foot, he fits the bill of a poacher perfectly. That poaching instinct comes to you, you either have it or you don’t, it is difficult to be taught about it. Inside the box, Soldado is a huge threat, he knows where to get in, at what time, to slot in the ball to the back of the net.
Having been forever under the shadows of Messi, Ronaldo and others like Falcao in the La Liga and under Torres, Villa and Llorente in the national team, Soldado can finally hope for a new lease of life at White Hart Lane, a place where he can truly get world wide recognition, which he is much overdue for his amazing performances over a long period of time.
Soldado has already hit the ground running at Tottenham with 4 goals in 3 matches, including a brace against Dinamo Tbilisi in the Europa League qualifier. Manager Andre Villa Boas’s fast and attacking way of playing can only supplement Soldado, and we can truly hope that Soldado can match his Valencia days or even better at the Lane, and get the recognition and respect which he long deserved.
Being an Arsenal supporter for so long, and knowing very well that he plays for our arch rivals, I still wish him the best of luck and hope that he succeeds at the Lane.