Real Betis have seen several very talented players graduate from their academies over the years and the most recent is Rodri SÃ¡nchez, the 21-year-old midfielder who made his senior debut in November 2020.
Rodri joined Real Betis academy in 2016 and he did so with an unprecedented football education already behind him.
It was quite a blow for Betis, given that they had already spent time in the youth squads of Real Madrid, AtlÃ©tico de Madrid, RCD Espanyol, FC Barcelona and RC Deportivo, some of the best academies in the country.
Born and raised in Talayuela, in the large but sparsely populated autonomous community of Extremadura in southwestern Spain, Rodri had to travel in search of his first football opportunities.
His quality stood out enough for him to secure a place at CD Canillas, a foster club to Real Madrid, and he regularly made the four-hour round trip to prove what he could do at the club. capital city.
This then led Rodri to integrate the academies of Atleti, Espanyol, Barca and Depor, never spending more than a season at the same institution.
While some might have viewed this as disrupting his development, Rodri took the opposite approach and seized the chance to learn different skills and styles from as many of the country’s top youth coaches as possible.
Looking for a finishing school in 2016, where he could spend the crucial final years of his youth career, Rodri has garnered a lot of interest from Premier League sides.
But he and his family considered that the project offered to him by Real Betis, a club known for their quality youngsters, was too good to be refused and he signed with the Verdiblancos.
It only took two years for Rodri to break through for the first time, making his first appearance for the senior squad in a 4-0 friendly victory over Merida AD in the summer of 2018.
He trained with the first team once the season started, making his competitive debut on November 7 against Barcelona, ââfor the dying minutes of a 5-2 defeat at Camp Nou.
Despite competing in the Camp Nou spotlight on Saturday, Rodri made another trip across the country in order to play the full 90 minutes for Real Betis’ B team the next day, starting and ending a 1-1 draw against Yeclano Deportivo in Murcia. , 400 km. It illustrated Rodri’s commitment and desire to seize whatever opportunities presented themselves.
Over the next few weeks and months he seized every other chance offered by first-team coach Manuel Pellegrini and has since become a regular in the starting XI.
He has already made more than 30 appearances for the first team and has even scored a few goals: one in the Copa del Rey against Real Sporting and another in the Europa League against FerencvÃ¡ros.
This goal in Budapest was scored far from Talayuela, in Extremadura. But Rodri has shown that it doesn’t matter where a football journey begins.
What matters is the talent displayed along the way and he has certainly proven to be worth it by working in some of the best academies in Spanish football.
As Real Betis keep getting stronger, competing both at the top of La Liga Santander and in Europe, keep an eye out for Rodri as a star of the future.