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Journeyman Joselu takes long, winding road to Champions League final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 May 2024

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Real Madrid striker Joselu was in dreamland after he came on in the dying moments of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich on Wednesday and turned the game on its head with two goals to snatch a stunning victory.

Joselu, whose journeyman career has included spells at clubs such as Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hannover 96, Stoke City and Newcastle United, only touched the ball a few times in their 2-1 second-leg win, but it was a night he is likely to remember for a long time.

He pounced on a rare mistake by Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer, stabbing the ball into the net to equalise for Madrid in the 88th minute, and just under three minutes later, he volleyed them into the lead from a cross by Antonio Rudiger.

“I don’t know anything about being a hero, but I’m very happy… You can imagine,” he said. “It was incredible, something spectacular. This team never gives up, it’s in its blood to fight to the end and that’s what we’ve done.

“You always dream of this kind of performance, but not even my most beautiful dreams are as big as what happened today.”

On loan from second-division side Espanyol, Joselu’s journey to becoming the semi-final hero has been long and winding in a career involving a dozen clubs across Europe.

He began his career at Celta Vigo before being bought in 2009 by Madrid, where he excelled in their B team but rarely made it to the first team.

He was sold to Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in 2012 and then loaned to Eintracht Frankfurt before joining Hannover 96 in 2014.

In 2015, he moved to Premier League side Stoke City, playing 27 times and scoring four goals, before spending two seasons at Newcastle United. He returned to Spain with Alaves, where he scored 36 times in three seasons.

He signed as a free agent with Espanyol in the summer of 2022, and a year later was loaned to Madrid and has scored nine goals in 32 appearances this season in LaLiga.

Joselu, born in Stuttgart, Germany, made his debut for Spain aged 33, coming off the bench against Norway to score twice in two minutes in March 2023.

“I don’t think Joselu will be sleeping much tonight, he’ll be useless in training tomorrow!” team-mate Jude Bellingham said. “He deserves it all, he’s been an amazing member of the squad all season, and it’s his night.”

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