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More on Carlos Aranda. And Dani Aquino (28th June, 2017)


The fight isn't on the pitch.

Carlos Aranda is known for his work ethic and his sheer determination. But that fight, that desire, that temperamental figure on the pitch is a result of the saddening circumstances off it.

Carlos was born in Málaga, Andalusia. His father abandoned him when he was little, and at the age of nine, his mother - a drug addict - died of cancer. Raised by his grandparents, his training at local club El Palo was overshadowed by the training of an early adulthood - he would fish octopuses to sell to restaurants in Málaga.

It was Vicente del Bosque who discovered the young forward at El Palo, and took him to Madrid - but he didn't fit in. The glamour didn't suit him, and he even tried fleeing the club - Real Madrid had to assign him a private tutor. "Mischievous", Vicente called him, many years later.

Somehow, despite all the odds, he graduated but never played in La Liga; however, he played a small part in two UEFA Champions League-winning squads, appearing against Molde FK (1999-00) and FC Lokomotiv Moscow (2001-02).



By the time he was 16 he had made his first team, and professional, debut. By the time he was 17 he was playing in La Liga. And by the time 22 he had experienced three relegations and two promotions.

This is the story - rather the many stories - surrounding Dani Aquino Pintos.

There was nothing to play for.

Real Murcia were hosting Tenerife, and they were down 3-0 in the 27th minute. The result didn't matter - it was the last round of fixtures, Real Murcia were already promoted to La Liga, Tenerife were to finish in mid table and the game was lost anyways.

In the 56th minute, Lucas Alcaraz made his first change. A 16-year-old born-and-bred Murcianista wearing the no. 31 shirt for the first time was on the pitch, eager to make his mark.

21 minutes later, he did, latching on to a through ball and exploiting Tenerife's high line to score with a delightful chip over goalkeeper Raúl Navas.

Dani Aquino had arrived.




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He was short. Very short. At 5'3", the left winger sometimes played in an over-sized shirt.

The ball never left his feet. His feet were tiny but they had magic. A dizzying array of body feints, close control, direction changes and sheer speed, often resembling a roller-coaster, left opposition defenders outwitted. And yes - sometimes, he frustrated. Sometimes, he was irregular.

But when he turned up, the world was at his feet.

If Juan Quero plays against Real Madrid he'll be playing against the club that let him go. The club that didn't think he had it in him to become a La Liga player.

The club that was wrong. Very, very wrong - he went fr…