December 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm
Koke joined Atletico Madrid’s youth system when he was just eight years old. Naturally, at this age you’re what is described as a ‘raw talent’ – in fact, you may even be picked up for your ability to make a connection with the ball instead of air-swinging, but it’s no fluke when you make the first team having broken through the youth system. This is what Koke has achieved.
The young playmaker made his debut for Los Colchoneros when he was four months shy of his 18th birthday. The 19th of September 2009 was a day to remember for Koke, he may have made his debut but Atletico got thrashed 5-2 by Barcelona, a baptism of fire for a 17 year old coming off the bench.
But this wasn’t the start of Koke’s sure-to-be-glittering career: he was already recognised at international level from under 16 level, all the way to under 23 level where he’s notched up 50 appearances and scored three goals, one at each level from under 20 to under 23. His success on the international stage is clearly just beginning.
Koke made 66 appearances for Atletico’s B team, scoring 7 goals, and he currently has 6 goals in 58 for the first team in the Primera Division. Needless to say, he is extremely consistent and has adapted incredibly well to the higher level.
His first goal for the first team came in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla where he levelled the scores at 1-1 with a header from Diego Forlan’s cross. So far this season he has found the net twice, again scoring against Sevilla, and also against Rayo Vallecano where Atletico won 4-3. He is an instrumental cog in Diego Simeone’s side’s surge to second in the league, above their rivals, Real Madrid, of whom they were in the shadow of for so long. It could be a famous year for Los Rojiblancos.
If Koke’s exceptional rise from youth to stardom can continue there’s no reason that the Spanish national team won’t come calling. Where it may feel to Atletico fans that Koke has been around forever, they need to remember that he is only 20 and that the best is yet to come.