It turned into an unforgettable evening for Nico Paz. He entered the field for Real Madrid in the Champions League encounter with Napoli, with the score tied. In his CL debut, he scored the decisive 3-2 goal. But who is this Paz, actually?Embed from Getty Images
After the 4-2 victory, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was effusive about the nineteen-year-old Argentine. 'He did what everyone asked of him in a difficult phase,' he said in the post-match press conference. For him, it's a special night. It's clear that he is a player for the future of Real Madrid. He has all the qualities to be a Real Madrid player and performed at a moment when we needed him.'
For Ancelotti, Paz's impressive performance was particularly timely. The Italian often faces criticism for the limited minutes he gives to youth players. He addressed this point directly. 'There's a lot of talk about the youth players not getting game time. But now we can benefit from that. Raúl (coach of Real Madrid Castilla) is doing fantastic work. Paz is an example of this.'
Born on Spanish Soil
In 2004, Paz was born in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. He is the son of Pablo Paz, a former Argentine defender who played in the 1996 Olympics and the 1998 World Cup. Nico Paz also chose to pursue an international career with Argentina. Usually with Argentina Under-20, but Lionel Scaloni once included him in the 44-player preliminary squad for the 2022 World Cup.
His talent was noticed in the youth ranks of Tenerife football club, and so Real Madrid signed him in 2016. In his early years, he didn't stand out much, but lately, he has been making a significant impact. For instance, he became the top scorer of Spain's third level with Real Madrid Castilla. This led to an opportunity in the first team of Real Madrid.
'Nico is special,' his former coach Fran Beltran said about him to The Athletic. 'He's the son-in-law we all want to have. But he's also competitive, technically skilled, strong, and has creativity and personality. He has a good left foot and heads the ball like a real striker.'
This was evident against Napoli. With a fine long-range shot, he beat goalkeeper Alex Meret. At 19 years and 82 days, he was the second-youngest Argentine to score in the Champions League. Only Lionel Messi was younger, scoring against Panathinaikos in 2005 when he was 18 years and 132 days old.
The youthful fearlessness that shone in the game against Napoli was also evident in his post-match interview. 'I dared to take the shot. I was in automatic mode and didn't know what I was doing. I was really panicking, but fortunately, it went in.'Updated: 02:22, 30 Nov 2023