La Fabrica is without a doubt one of the most important youth systems in the world. This has come completely clear during this week of international matches, in which five players who grew up at Real Madrid’s youth teams have made it into Spain’s squad for the European qualifiers.
The most relevant of all is Iker Casillas. The goalkeeper arrived at the club at nine years old and he is still a Madridista, having lifted uncountable trophies at the Santiago Bernabeu. Casillas influence is similar in the Spanish national team, where he’s also the captain, just like at Real Madrid.
Another of the goalkeepers picked by Vicente del Bosque is Kiko Casillas, also trained at La Fabrica. The current Espanyol’s goalie was part of Madrid’s youth teams from 2003 to 2007. In fact, Fabio Capello selected him frequently for first team matches when he was the manager at the Santiago Bernabeu.
For the defence, Del Bosque has also picked two players that grew up at Real: Juanfran Torres and Daniel Carvajal. The youngster has a brilliant past, present and a future ahead at Madrid. He joined the club at the age of ten, and at 12 he was selected to place alongside Alfredo di Stefano and Florentino Perez the first stone of the new Los Blancos sports complex. After a year abroad at Bayer Leverkusen, Carvajal is now completely settled as an important piece in the jigsaw for Los Merengues and for Spain.
Juanfran, who also plays as a right-back, didn’t have that role when he started his career at Real Madrid. He was a pure winger, and he was considered as one of the pearls of the club. In fact, in 2004 there were rumours that Roman Abramovich was willing to make an important bid to bring him to Chelsea. Juanfran played six official games for Los Blancos, but had to leave the Santiago Bernabeu looking for more minutes of play.
The last of the La Fabrica-grown players in Spain’s squad to face Slovakia and Luxembourg is Rodrigo. The Brazilian-born striker arrived at Real Madrid from Celta Vigo, and soon started to shine. His progress to reach the reserve team was meteoric. However, the lack of first-team opportunities made him leave the club in 2010.