he first years of being a professional footballer are fundamental to securing a players footballing identity. Learning from their older more experienced peers and making relationships is essential to the grounding of a player.
The season of 1994/95 was a season which saw a young Raul celebrate his goals with a knee slide and a finger in the air, just like Amavisca. Raul would go on to influence an entire generation, who began to imitate his celebrations.
His ability to make a fool of the goalkeeper was something we all became accustomed to, alongside his tenacity to never give anything up. And that celebration: the knee slide with a finger in the air. Now we might call it posturing, but then we called it ‘Raulismo’ .
His legend was forged year after year and we did not understand a Madrid match without Raul. How could he be a substitute, if he was the player we all were there to see? The newspapers needed new images on Sunday for the kids to imitate him on Monday. Raul was everywhere you turned, even as football became pay-per-view as that famous celebration became featured in Coca-Cola adverts.
Marco Asensio has everything to be the new Raul of this era. He has the quality, the goals, the look, and the youthfulness, which is most important.
A match with him on the field translates into 90 minutes where you are transfixed into wondering what he will do next.
He brings with him the same sense of unpredictability as Raul did, and something the fans are drawn to. They are left waiting to see something special, a quality only a handful of players can attain.
But for that, it is necessary that Zinedine Zidane shows the same faith in Asensio as Jorge Valdano did with Raul. He must risk Asensio and give him game time, in order for him to flourish.
Zidane needs to make Asensio’s home the pitch of the Santiago Bernabeu, and not the bench. This is something that the supporters want. Valdano gave Raul his wings, he did not clip them, and Zidane needs to do the same with Marco Asensio.