Name: Sergio Canales
Club: Real Madrid CF
Debut: (for Real Racing Club) 18 September 2008 v FC Honka Espoo
Position: Attacking midfielder
Date of birth: 16/02/91
Canales was billed as Madrid's new golden boy following his move from Real Racing Club this summer. He has had to wait for his chance under José Mourinho, with the Portuguese coach using him sparingly thus far this season – but still only 20, his potential hints at a star in the making.
The Santander-born player honed his technique on the beaches of Cantabria in northern Spain before joining the ranks at Racing, making his debut in a UEFA Cup game against Finnish side Honka.
Following an introductory senior campaign in 2008/09, Canales featured more in coach Miguel Ángel Portugal's plans the following season, scoring six goals in 26 Liga appearances from the attacking midfield role that he took up during Spain's 2008 UEFA European Under-17 Championship success.
Canales also helped Spain reach the 2010 UEFA European U19 Championship final, but is now being forced to display what he describes as his "stubborn side" by convincing both Mourinho and U21 coach Luis Milla that he deserves his place in their respective starting lineups. "I never give up a challenge until it has been met," he said.
Sevilla FC 1-2 Real Racing Club
Chosen to start behind forward Xisco for Racing's Liga encounter in Andalusia, Canales produced a spellbinding performance which included two superbly taken goals against veteran goalkeeper Andrés Palop. Spain's top clubs swiftly took note.
"Nothing can stop me from enjoying my football. I love every aspect of a game, from the first moment I touch the ball to the times when I score and celebrate; I even love training."
On his abiding passion
"I like to have a little time to myself before a game. I come to the stadium, maybe have a coffee, listen to the coach's team talk and then head out to feel the turf beneath my feet. Right before kick-off, joking around with my team-mates helps me a lot."
On his pre-match ritual
"He has natural ability combined with a profound self-confidence. He's a simple guy, really cool and he's adapting well. He's young and lucky to be at Real Madrid, where he has a big future."
Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso
"He obviously has a lot of talent and [in Spain] that means something very significant. Having said that, he needs to be helped along the way by those around him; he needs to be given his moment to shine. We have to take it one step at a time with Sergio; there's no hurry."
Spain U21 coach Luis Milla
"I didn't like the way he played."
Madrid coach José Mourinho explains why he replaced his young star at half-time during November's 5-1 Copa del Rey triumph against Real Murcia CF
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