Born in Stuttgart, but raised in Pontevedra, Galicia, José Luis ‘Joselu’ Mato Sanmartín was once one of the golden boys in La Fabrica, Real Madrid’s academy. Last Tuesday, presented as their newest striker for the upcoming season, Joselu will try to live up to the expectations as he returns home after 11 years away.
However, his story begins elsewhere.
As a 21-year-old, Joselu had an astonishing season with Real Madrid Castilla as his 26 goals in 36 games led Los Blancos to a title in the third tier league of Spanish football. While Joselu didn’t have the desired playing time at the Santiago Bernabeu, the striker made his debut in 2011 and, if that wasn’t enough, he took four minutes to score his first goal, assisted by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. The wonder kid had fulfilled his long awaited dream.
However, football took him elsewhere to shine. He played at his country of birth for Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover. Overall Joselu scored 22 goals in three seasons. Then, he took off to England where he played for Newcastle United and Stoke City, where he scored 10 goals over four seasons.
He then returned to Spain to play for Deportivo La Coruña in 2017. With the Spanish side, he only managed to score five goals. As a 30-year-old, Joselu made a move to Deportivo Alavés. With Los Blanquiazules, Joselu scored 11 goals, his first time at top level football with double digits. His next two seasons were similar as he led his team with more than 10 goals.
He ended up as an Espanyol player in their last season in La Liga, where he was the top goalscorer, scoring 16 goals. As promised, he is now back to succeed at Real Madrid with the No. 14 on his back. Joselu returns home to be a key player on the attacking end and to continue helping his family, as he once said, as a wonder kid in the academy.