By Rafa García
A dramatic late equaliser in Real Madrid CF's 1-1 draw at BV Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 10 of the UEFA Champions League reminded the world that the 20-year-old Javier Portillo is one of the most promising strikers in Europe.
Brought on as a substitute with time ticking down in Germany, Portillo justified coach Vicente del Bosque's faith in him by scoring a vital goal which ultimately helped Madrid to win a place in the quarter-finals.
Hero of Dortmund
uefa.com tracked down the hero of that night in Dortmund and discussed his goal at the Westfalenstadion, as well as his experiences playing alongside Raúl González and Ronaldo at Madrid.
uefa.com: What can you remember about that famous night in Dortmund?
Javier Portillo: I was concentrating very hard and began to warm up in the second half before Del Bosque ordered me to go on as a substitute. About the goal, I remember that [Oscar] Miñambres collected the ball, crossed for [Zinedine] Zidane and then the Frenchman passed to me and I hit the ball into the net with my right foot. I was very happy.
uefa.com: Do you think the goal has changed your life?
Portillo: No, I don't. I'm the same person as before. I must work hard every day to try to improve and try to take advantage of the opportunities I have. People are more interested in me, certainly, but I must trust in myself and concentrate on my own game.
uefa.com: What kind of things you have learned playing with Raúl and Ronaldo?
Portillo: I learn new things every day playing with them. I must observe them and try to learn every day.
Ronaldo has power and speed; Raúl has incredible character and a winning mentality. Raúl is an idol for me. I have a very difficult task if I want to win a place in the starting lineup. I have to train more every day.
uefa.com: How do you think you can improve as a player?
Portillo: I think that you are born a striker but there is always room for improvement. I usually use my left foot, so I must improve my right one. I am 20 years old and I should improve a lot of things.
uefa.com: Has Del Bosque played an important role in your career?
Portillo: He was the person who convinced me to come to Madrid. He gave me the opportunity to play in the first team and I made my debut with him on the bench. I will always be thankful to him for what he did for me. He is a very important man in my career. I thank our supporters too - they are very intelligent and they are always very nice with the young players.
uefa.com: Do you think you have a chance of getting into Iñaki Sáez's Spanish national team?
Portillo: That's very much his decision, but I hope that he has me in mind because it is one of my dreams to play for Spain.
uefa.com: What do you remember of last year's Champions League final?
Portillo: I was at home when Real won the seventh and the eighth European titles.
Last year I was in Glasgow with Real Madrid B. The atmosphere of the final is incredible. Of course, I'd like to win the Champions League and the Primera División this season. Manchester United [FC], AC Milan and Madrid are the favourites but we must keep an eye on [FC] Barcelona, who are playing very well.
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