Lucas Vázquez is a Real Madrid cult hero in the making

Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

The clock had not long struck past 22:45 in Milan. Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid had battled each other through both regulation and extra-time. Following a final rally from Zinedine Zidane, all that stood between Real Madrid and the Champions League was 12 yards.

Despite having a squad stacked with established stars, fans were quite surprised to see who Real’s first penalty taker would be. The world watching, the fans in the stadium fixated on his every move, 25-year-old Lucas Vázquez calmly trotted to the penalty spot.

The ball spinning on his finger, he painted a composed figure as he approached the penalty spot for the biggest moment of his career to date. A quick kiss of the ball before placing it down and cooly converting.

This particular moment encapsulates Lucas Vázquez’s Real Madrid career. The walk-up to the penalty spot was minimalistic. It was not groundbreaking. But there was a supremacy about it. Lucas is by no means a groundbreaking player, he’s a minimalistic character but his use and impact have shown to be one of some magnitude.

Vázquez began his career coming through the ranks of La Fabrica. However, upon his graduation from the academy, there was no starting spot for him. With the trident of Benzema, Bale, and Ronaldo in full-flow at the time, the 23-year-old found himself on loan at Espanyol.

Espanyol, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Espanyol, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /

Lucas Vazquez found a new level at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane

Lucas, by no means, set the world alight in Catalonia. Across his 30 appearances for Espanyol, he scored just 3. Nonetheless, Espanyol were impressed enough to activate their clause, however, Real decided to initiate their buy-back clause the day after.

And thus, Vázquez returned to Madrid. Making his debut against none other than Espanyol in a 6-0 rout, but it would be quite the topsy turvy start for Real. Then-manager Rafa Bentíez would be sacked and Zinedine Zidane would step into the dugout.

Zidane’s introduction as coach was a game-changer for Real Madrid and for Lucas. Despite having a wealth of superstars at his disposal, Zidane often opted for the hard-working players. The Frenchman chose the likes of Casemiro and Lucas over players like James Rodriguez.

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Prior to the arrival of Zizou, Vázquez had been sparingly used. With the Frenchman at the helm, he featured 18 times, including the Champions League final. There was something about the hard-working nature of Lucas, he wasn’t glamorous and he wasn’t a star. What he did do, was put it all on the line for the betterment of the team.

It was on a player like Lucas that Zidane found he could lean on, he wasn’t interested in Galaticos. Something we could see even as a player, when one recalls that famous quote about the Makélélé transfer and the introduction of Beckham: ‘Why put on another layer of gold paint on the Bentley, when you’ve removed the entire engine?’

The following season, which saw Real win the double in 16/17, Lucas made a total of 53 appearances. He may not have been a nailed-on starter, but he was clearly a trusted part of Zidane’s plan. Even in the way of goals and assists, Lucas was amongst some of Europe’s best for his assist to minute ratio. Vázquez regularly helped to seal out those slender games, whether it were being an extra body to help defend or pose a different look for the opposing defence – Vázquez was often enough effective.

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /

Lucas Vazquez embodies what it means to be a Madridista

He is certainly effective as a player for Real, he may by no means be an elite-level player, but his dedication to the cause more than makes up for it. Vázquez embodies the do-or-die attitude for the badge, Madridismo.

Players like Vázquez are never the most popular, in fact, they are usually the first to be blamed when things go sour. Often lambasted for not being the glamour option, but a player like Lucas is just as vital as the superstars.

While everyone likes the glamour and aesthetic of the big-name stars, there needs to be an equal appreciation for a player like Vázquez. He often puts ego aside, leaving it all on the field for the badge. We all remember that emphatic penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo against Juventus to send Real through, but how many remember Vázquez putting it on the line and shielding the ball from Benatia to win the spot-kick? It was the inglorious action of Lucas that led to the glorious moment from Cristiano.

Even now, in what could be his final season at Real, Vázquez has continued to sacrifice himself for the side. The Spaniard has done a more than admirable job stepping in as a makeshift full-back, aiding the side in the most difficult of times. As Lucas limped off the field in El Clásico, it was quite a sad moment. In what could be his final game, dependent on his renewal, he once again stepped up out of position, providing an assist in a must-win game.

Next. The best Real Madrid player to wear every kit number. dark

Lucas may not be the most glamorous player, he may not be the golden Bentley, but he is that utility van that you can consistently turn to when the going gets tough.