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Guardiola's star pupil graduates in style

Published: Saturday 10 April 2010, 14.59CET
Pedro Rodríguez's winning goal in the UEFA Super Cup belied the rookie status of a 22-year-old striker currently enjoying his breakthrough campaign with FC Barcelona.
Guardiola's star pupil graduates in style
Pedro Rodríguez celebrates a goal for Barcelona ©Getty Images
Published: Saturday 10 April 2010, 14.59CET

Guardiola's star pupil graduates in style

Pedro Rodríguez's winning goal in the UEFA Super Cup belied the rookie status of a 22-year-old striker currently enjoying his breakthrough campaign with FC Barcelona.

Name: Pedro Rodríguez
Club:
FC Barcelona
Debut: 12/01/08 v Real Murcia CF (Liga)
Position: striker
Nationality: Spanish
Date of birth: 28/07/87

To play even a few minutes here is an absolute privilege and you have to take advantage of every moment
Pedro Rodríguez
He has helped us a lot and has a real eye for goal
Josep Guardiola

At the time Josep Guardiola was named Barcelona reserve team coach in 2007, Pedro's future at the Camp Nou looked uncertain. He seemed closer to a loan move away from the club than to a first-team summons. Guardiola, though, liked what he saw and under his guidance the Tenerife-born forward blossomed. A promotion to the senior squad soon followed as Pedro made his debut on 12 January 2008.

When Guardiola took charge of the first team the next season, Pedro went with him and, though used sparingly, he tasted the big time as a substitute in the UEFA Champions League final victory against Manchester United FC last May.

Going into the current campaign, Pedro had made only four Liga starts and as many substitute appearances, yet his apprenticeship had been served. He quickly established himself, beginning with his first Barcelona goal in the Spanish Super Cup victory over Athletic Bilbao, then scoring the extra-time winner against FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Super Cup.

His season's tally now stands at 16, including another important strike in the FIFA Club World Cup triumph over Estudiantes de la Plata, which confirmed him as the only player to score in all six competitions in the same year: UEFA Champions League, Spanish Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

Pedro's attitude, professionalism, consistency, finishing and confidence have benefited from Guardiola's influence, and the striker has become a popular member of the squad – not least for his willingness to chase lost causes and harass the opposition. Fast on the ball, he reminds some of former Blaugrana favourite Ludovic Giuly in his ability to get behind a full-back.

Breakthrough game:
Barcelona 1-0 FC Shakhtar Donetsk (aet)
28/08/09 UEFA Super Cup
Breaking into a side that had just won the UEFA Champions League and a domestic double represented no small task, but Pedro made a strong case with the extra-time winner in Monaco. Introduced as an 81st minute substitute, he soon hit his stride, exchanging passes with Lionel Messi before firing a low shot past Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

He says:
"To play even a few minutes here is an absolute privilege and you have to take advantage of every moment on the pitch. Things have happened quickly for me, but I'm taking it all in my stride. I've had the opportunity to experience beautiful and unforgettable moments with Barça, but I know I must keep working hard to continue getting chances in the team.

"I was thrilled when Guardiola let me play the last few minutes of the Champions League final. I think it was his way of saying thank you for the hard work put in by all the youth-team players during the year. I won the lottery as the one who got the chance, and I am so grateful, even though I didn't manage to touch the ball."
Talking to UEFA.com in December

They say:
"He's a very fast player who also helps out defensively by pressurising opponents, and his finishing is excellent. He's an unpredictable striker, and as a person he's first class. He's a very good person, very humble, and I hope he maintains that attitude which will only make him a better player than he already is."
Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés speaking to UEFA.com

"He's still young and still has things to learn. Little by little he's spending more time on the pitch and he's continuing to grow. He has helped us a lot and has a real eye for goal."
Barcelona coach Guardiola

"He was playing alongside men who could have been his father. The physical differences between him and the rest was so great that we called him the mascot."
CD Raqui San Isidro secretary Eugenio González remembers Pedro breaking into their first team aged 16.

Last updated: 11/04/10 18.59CET

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