Jose Rodriguez is just eighteen years old, yet he has already represented one of the biggest clubs in the world in an international club competition. Indeed he became the youngest player in Real Madrid’s history ever to do so when he replaced Kaka during a Champions League group encounter against Ajax last December. It capped a momentous week for the young man, who three days earlier had made his La Liga debut in the Madrid derby, little more than a month after his first team debut against Alcoyano in the Spanish Cup in a game in which he opened the scoring.
Rodriguez spent the majority of his early footballing years with CF Villajoyosa, the team from the town in which he was born. However by the age of 13 he had attracted the attention of Hercules, and two years later he was on his way to Madrid. Such has been the speed of his development that having followed the normal trajectory as far as the Juvenil A team, the decision was taken to elevate him straight into the club’s reserve side Castilla, rather than the C side which currently plays in the third tier of Spanish football. This season he has been used sparingly as the newly promoted second string have retained their Segunda Division status, often appearing as a second half substitute. However despite this Jose Mourinho has still given him three chances to shine on the biggest stage of all, and he has not disappointed.
As with all the ‘canteranos’ featured this season, Gonzalez has already been called upon to represent his country, and indeed he also scored on his international debut for Spain’s under 17 side against Moldova. Earning a regular start in one of the best midfields on the planet is always going to be a huge challenge for an 18 year old, but the early signs suggest that we will seeing a lot more of this young man over the next few seasons.