Fede Valverde credits Uruguayan youth football for his stellar development.
“In Uruguay, not every pitch is grass even in the first division, so imagine baby football,” he told the Guardian.
“They’re dirt pitches, gravel. You go to take a corner and there’s an animal next to you. It makes you grow up, fight, stronger. It’s lovely to come back from a game with your face covered with dirt, hair solid with mud, boots full of stones.
“The most beautiful thing a kid can experience is to get on the bus every weekend in your kit, share that with friends and family.
“Football is essential for Uruguay, people die for their teams, they’re mad for their team. When you’re a kid the first thing they throw to you is a ball. We have such a small population, so producing so many players fills you with pride.”
Real Madrid signed Valverde from Penarol in 2016 when he was still a teenager. He progressed through the club’s Castilla side to become a mainstay under Zinedine Zidane. Now, he is part of the Galacticos engine, featuring at various positions.
Valverde is still only 22 years. He has scored twice in his 22 caps for Uruguay so far.