Real Madrid’s Corner: Gonzalo ‘El Pipita’ Higuain Never Ever Gives Up!

GonzaloAi??HiguaAi??n is a very interesting character in the Real Madrid squad. He is not as charismatic as Ronaldo or naturally talented like Benzema. He isnai??i??t even flashy like Marcelo or hot-headed like Ramos. He is not even exquisite likeAi??Ai??zil or a visual treat like KakA?. But there is still something about Gonzalo HiguaAi??n. El Pipita, as he is fondly called, reminded us once again why he is a special footballer with his immensely fruitful displays in the past two weeks.

The Promise of Superstardom

HiguaAi??n was born in France when his father was plying his trade in the French League before he moved back to Argentina.Ai??HiguaAi??n enrolled in the youth academy of River Plate but he still had no Argentinian citizenship. He made his way to the senior team and made his professional debut at the age of 18.

Against arch-rivals Boca Juniors, in the SuperClasico,Ai??HiguaAi??n scored a brace, prompting the River Plate manager Daniel Passarella to proclaim that the striker was destined for superstardom.

Real Madrid took notice of his enormous potential and Fabio Capello bought the talented El Pipita, named after his father who was called El Pipa, for ai??i??13 million in the January transfer window. The Spanish giants already had at their disposal the services of Ruud Van Nistelrooy and the great Raul. HiguaAi??n was given the chance to blossom under the guidance of the two best strikers in the modern game. El Pipita did not set the stage on fire as soon as he signed but displayed great promise whenever he came onto the field.

HiguaAi??n later revealed one of the most interesting pieces of wisdom imparted by the great Dutchman. “Ruud told me that goals are like ketchupai??i?? sometimes as much as you try, they don’t come out, and then they come all of a sudden.” This logic holds so much true throughout the course of HiguaAi??nai??i??s career.

An injury to Nistelrooy in the 2008-09 season gaveAi??HiguaAi??n the chance to start regularly for Casa Blanca and he finally began toAi??justify his potentialAi??by scoring precious goals. He also decided to represent Argentina instead of France after thinking which country to represent as he was born in France and had the citizenship of both the countries. With his head clear and everything settled,Ai??HiguaAi??n dazzled the world with his performances as he displaced Nistelrooy as the primary striker leading the Madrid charge alongside RaA?l.

Holding his own among the Galacticos

2009 brought Florentino Perez back to the Spanish capital and the arrival of Karim Benzema cast doubts about the immediate future of HiguaAi??n. The Argentinian held his own among the array of Galacticos and with Benzema proving to be ineffective,Ai??heAi??again assumedAi??the role of primary striker. In the wake of Ronaldo’s injury, he ensured that Real Madrid remain in touch with the Blaugranas. Los Blancos conceded the title to FC Barcelona in a thrilling season in which Real Madrid accumulated a record number of points.

The lowest point of El Pipita in a white shirt has probably beenAi??in the same season when against Lyon, facing an empty net, HiguaAi??n missed the goal hitting the post which could have put Real in a good position before they crashed out of the Champions League. Also, critics began to point out his performances in big matches where he proved to be inconsistent but the goals kept coming at regular intervals.

Everything was perfect untilai??i??

HiguaAi??n had established his status as the primary striker at Real Madrid and further cemented his place in the squad when Mourinho let goAi??El Angel de MadridAi??and relegated Benzema to the bench, placingAi??HiguaAi??n atAi??the tip of the attacking diamond comprising of Ronaldo, Ozil and Di Maria. Higuain fitted perfectly into Mourinhoai??i??s tactics and his awareness inside the box and willingness to get to the ball first earned him more respect from his critics and supporters. The goals began to flow and everything seemed to have finally fallen in place for the Argentinian.

Then calamity struck.Ai??HiguaAi??n was advised to undergo surgery to alleviate his back ache, effectively sidelining him for four months. Suddenly, Real Madrid felt the vacuum of a striker. Benzema was still not in the good books of the coach and Madrid brought Emmanuel Adebayor on loan.

Injuries are probably the toughest period for a sportsperson and it must have been shattering for HiguaAi??n. One day, he was the primary striker at the worldai??i??sAi??most successfulAi??club and the next day, he was being operated upon, making him ineligible to step onto the pitch to play or train. But, champions are defined by the way they claw back from hardships and GonzaloAi??HiguaAi??n is definitely one of them.

He made no fuss about his surgery and started training with the team ahead of his schedule. He played in practice games with the Castilla and was ready for first team action even before the stipulated time period of recovery. He focussed on getting back stronger and fitter instead of brooding over his misfortune. His perseverance and drive finally paid off as he toyed with the ValenciaAi??defense, after his come back, scoring a hat-trick and serving two assists.

The rise of Benzema is not the fall of Higuain

Benzema rose like a Phoenix thanks to Zinedine Zidane andAi??HiguaAi??n found himself in familiar waters. He was relegated to the bench as a secondary striker as Benzema finally started to prove his worth at the Santiago BernabAi??u. Patiently, HiguaAi??n waited for his opportunities.

Benzema injured himself and once againAi??HiguaAi??n had to prove his worth. Against Espanyol, he netted a wonderful hat-trick – all confident strikes assuring his fans that he was still the same lethal striker after his surgery. He did not stop there. In the same week, with Argentina, Sabella started him against Chile and he overshadowed Messi with another brilliant hat-trick, while also helping Messi score with a sublime assist. The ketchup – as Van Nistelrooy would point out – had started flowing, again.

HiguaAi??n- a Fan Favorite

The most endearing thing about El Pipita is his willingness to give it his all on the pitch, everytime. He never complains. Even when he was earning less than Benzema before his contract extension and was the teamai??i??s primary striker, he never made noises about his contract. He let his game do the talking and Real Madrid finally offered him a sweet package binding him till 2016.

El Pipita is a player who may not be the most technically gifted or outrageously talented strikers in the world. But he makes up for it by being aware of the ball and latching onto any mistakes by the defense like his predecessor, Raul.

He is always aware of his surroundings and never waits for the ball to come to him. He shuffles around constantly drawing defenders to him, opening spaces for himself and others, creating countless opportunities for the team. He is a dream striker for any coach. He is tactically aware in every situation and is never caught out of place. His movement off the ball is impeccable and his intelligence second to none.

He found himself below the list of strikers under Maradona and Batista who were too obsessed with building the team around Messi and Tevez. But, finally, the new Argentina coach, Alejandro Sabella, has begun to use him effectively playing him as the striker alongside Messi and Di Maria. Inspite of being undervalued,Ai??HiguaAi??n never complained or gave away his feelings. He always responded with his performances on the pitch.

The striker has never faced any complaints from teammates or coaches regarding his behavior on and off the pitch. He has always remained in everyone’s proverbial good books. His relationship with fans has always remained warm as he has never let them down or acted indifferently, honoring the badge on his chest, putting the team ahead of himself, every time he stepped on the pitch.

GonzaloAi??HiguaAi??n has scored 74 goals in La Liga, more than any other player on the Real Madrid roster and has scored hat-tricks in each of the last four La Liga campaigns but still faces brick bats from his critics and is disregarded everytime a lethal striker list is made. But, nothing affects him, atleast on the pitch. He proves his critics wrong and wins hearts whenever he is written off.

So many footballers are born who are enormously talented but lack the hard work to shape their destinies. And then there are footballers who rely on hard work and perseverance to shape their destinies.

If there is one thing which GonzaloAi??HiguaAi??n has always proven time and again, it is thatAi??El Pipita never ever gives up.

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4 Responses to “Real Madrid’s Corner: Gonzalo ‘El Pipita’ Higuain Never Ever Gives Up!”

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  1. Carlos says:

    Well written article!!!

  2. sunil says:

    El pipa is a fighter Real madrid need characters like him.

  3. Amedo1 says:

    Is the character enough to make a good striker?

  4. me says:

    @Amedo1…no it’s not but the roughly 75 goals+30 assists in only 130 games sure makes one!!!