Analysis: Roberto Soldado - the penalty-box predator - will add first touch of class to Tottenham

From an early age it was not difficult to see he was going to be a top player

Madrid

Next month it will be eight years since David Beckham landed a cross on the head of 20-year-old Real Madrid striker Roberto Soldado who, at the second attempt, nodded the ball past Olympiakos keeper Antonios Nikopolidis to score on his Champions League debut, His future was made. At least it should have been.

Tottenham's new striker had grown up watching Ronaldo score spectacular goals for Barcelona and Real Madrid and, after being spotted by then Real Madrid youth-team coach Vicente Del Bosque at regional boys side Don Bosco, he was signed aged 14 and eventually made it to the first team inspired by eye-opening training sessions alongside his Brazilian idol.

But Madrid had little time for nurturing young talent and Soldado, like Alvaro Negredo and Juan Mata after him, was discarded. The long road back – culminating this summer in becoming Tottenham's record signing at £26m – speaks volumes for the character of a player who has taken the longest path to reach the top.

"I remember my dad telling me that Del Bosque had watched me the previous Saturday to make the final decision," he says, recalling the culmination of Real Madrid's 18 months scouting him.

Del Bosque remembers it. "He already had the physical power at that age and it was not difficult to see that he was going to make it as a top player," he says.

The first year away from home was tough and when, aged 17, he left the players' residence to flat-share with a team-mate there were times when the bright lights of the capital were all the young striker could see. "I was dedicating myself to anything but football, but my parents moved to Madrid and got me back on track," he says.

He made it to the first team; and then on to the end of that Beckham cross, but was eventually packed off by Madrid first to Osasuna and then to Getafe where it would have been easy for his head to drop again. Getafe is just a half-hour drive from the Bernabeu but comfortably La Liga's least-populated and mournfully quiet stadium.

But he did well enough at Getafe to earn a move to Valencia where he bettered the scoring rate of his predecessor David Villa and put himself back in contention for a place in the Spain squad for Euro 2012.

He scored a hat-trick in a friendly against Venezuela and appeared to have booked his place, but it was Manchester City's new summer signing Alavaro Negredo who went instead – Negredo judged to be better at holding the ball up and bringing team-mates into play.

"I went on holiday that summer, cheered the team on like any patriotic Spaniard and set myself the target of scoring more goals than I had the previous season because the goals I had scored had not been enough," he says – a typical reaction for a penalty-box predator who sees he has little business outside the area.

The vast majority of his goals are scored with his first touch and Tottenham are buying a player who will not over-elaborate at the expense of seeing the ball nestled in the back of the net. "It's instinctive," he says. "Hugo Sanchez scored 38 goals one season and they were all with his first touch."

As well as the 30 goals Soldado scored last season, Del Bosque also saw an improvement in his link-up play and started him in Spain's first Confederations Cup game against Uruguay where he played his part in their most impressive performance.

He is now ahead of Negredo in the international pecking order; and alongside him in the Premier League.

Hot Spur: Soldado's CV

Born 27 May, 1985, Valencia

Club career

2002-06 Real Madrid B (63 goals in 120 games) 2004-08; Real Madrid (4/27)

2006-07 Osasuna (loan; 13/44)

2008-10 Getafe (33/66)

2010-13 Valencia (81/141)

International 11 caps for Spain, six goals

Honours La Liga 2007/08

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum