When he was a child, Isco always went outside with a ball. The neighbors in his hometown in Benalmadena rarely saw him without holding a ball. He left and went home from school by walking with the ball.
He would do something special with the ball on his feet while playing with his brother and friends on the Atletico Benamiel gravel field. When his brother and friends did not come, he played there alone.
At a young age, he had been watched and monitored by talent guides. However, there was one thing that was doubted from him despite his potential skill: his running style. Isco didn’t care about the way he ran. He even called it “running funny”. It became a concern as his bent legs and unnatural movements might prevent him from releasing his technical abilities.
Even though young Isco also considered it strange. Yet, it still felt unfair if such a talented player was judged not to be a great player just because of the way he ran. Luckily Valencia did not question this small problem when he took him to the academy at the age of 14.
Isco grew up in Valencia for seven years, climbing level by level of the age group. His first team debut came in 2010 when he was 18. At that time, he was played by Unai Emery in a Copa del Rey match against Logrones. He scored two goals in the debut match.
He also became a mainstay of Valencia B. He brought the reserve club of Valencia to the Tercera Division, the fourth caste of Spanish football in his debut season. But Emery was not interested in using him more often. He was only given a few opportunities, perhaps because Isco was considered to have a high temperament and was unable to meet the standards of the main team.
Isco jumped to Malaga after the 6 million Euro clause was redeemed. At first, he was doubted by the supporters at his new club. He was considered inexperienced as being a 19-year-old teenager worth 6 million Euros with a strange running method and he had never been a main player in the senior team.
Yet, his career at Malaga was a big success. In two seasons at La Rosaleda, his price increased to 30 million Euros. Manuel Pellegrini, who led Malaga to fly high, helped Isco in his good player cabinet. He received the Golden Boy Award in 2012, which was followed by Malaga’s success to qualify for the Champions League semifinals.
When Pellegrini was hijacked by Manchester City in the following season, he did not hesitate to bring Isco to England. Unfortunately, he was not the only one interested in Isco. Florentino Perez at Real Madrid considered that the Los Galacticos he was building also needed a Spanish star, and Isco was his choice.
At that time, Carlo Ancelotti still became the coach of Los Blancos. He actually wasn’t too interested in Isco. It was Zinedine Zidane who urged the transfer of Isco to Perez. Madrid at that time was filled with good players in the attack line, Ancelotti and Perez needed coercion from Zidane to bring Isco.
Thus, Isco came to Madrid in 2013. Since then, he has often been compared to Zidane. One thing that became a problem for Isco in his new club was consistency. For the size of a 21-year-old player, Isco has enough minutes to play.
The problem was that Ancelotti did not have the main preference in Isco’s position. He made Isco played everywhere. In the middle, right or left. Moreover, on the front line, the BBC trio (Benzema, Bale, Christiano Ronaldo) was performing well. Isco had to work extra hard to continue to get the chance.
He realized that in order to win the regular position, the position that gave him the best potential, he had to play a little back, learn to tackle and look dirty. Since then, he has a new element, namely survival.
However, he still hadn’t been patented either in the Ancelotti’s era or the brief period of Rafael Benitez. Isco’s luck then appeared. Zidane, who brought him to Madrid, was appointed as a coach. Gareth Bale, who was prone to injury, and Ronaldo who need to rest, made Isco got a place to attack. He was lined up as a midfielder with the biggest attacking task and was given full freedom to play.
The result was Madrid annexed the Spanish League and Champions League three times in a row. He also became Spain’s best player on the 2018 World Cup. As a magician on the field, he would have many performances in the future.