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Real Madrid star declares love for ex-Stoke City forward Jonathan Walters – ‘he was a beast’

Real Madrid forwards don’t often speak highly of Stoke City forwards, but granted they don’t often play for both clubs either. That is the case for Joselu Mato though, who at 33 is about to face Manchester City in the quarter-finals of his first ever Champions League campaign.

The Guardian carried out a profile piece on the journeyman nature of Joselu’s career up until this point, which included two tricky spells in the Premier League at Stoke and Newcastle United. He spoke fondly of his time in England though....For More CONTINUE THE FULL READING▶▶

“Those were good times. It is true that everyone hated playing at Stoke. It was a test. It was always windy – the corners are open. Boxing Day, freezing … no one wanted to come. That was a good year: we finished ninth, beat City and United and reached the [League] Cup semi-final, only losing on penalties at Anfield … I played with good footballers: Crouch, [Marko] Arnautovic, Jonny Walters…”

Joselu could not recall calling Walters ‘superman’ while referring to Cristiano Ronaldo as just a ‘superhero’, but was a big fan of the Irish forward. He also revealed Jude Bellingham’s favourite nickname for him.

It is true that I loved Jonny Walters. He fought, he was committed, physically he was a beast, he scored over a hundred goals. And Crouch was an incredible guy. Jude calls me Crouchy now because I’m a tall striker who likes a cross. Others followed Jude and it’s stuck. But he’s 2 metres tall, I’m only 1.92. Crouch was very funny and helped me a lot. Boy, I had good times with him.”

Stoke are still a side Joselu keeps tabes on.

It was hard [to leave] because I had got to know everyone there but they were looking for a shift in style. I still follow Stoke. They just can’t quite get back to the Premier League. The players have gone but I have loads of friends there. I had people from Stoke at my wedding, people from Newcastle too.” He said none of them stepped out of line at the wedding, laughing that they were “fine, fine… At 2am I shut the bar.”

The veteran striker’s story certainly has an air of the fairytale about it, returning to his boyhood club at 33 having left as a teenager. It’s been a successful return too, scoring 14 goals in spite of the fact he has been used as a rotational striker. Real Madrid look poised to execute their €1.5m buy option on Joselu this summer to make his loan from Espanyol permanent.

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Kylian Walterlin

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