Robert Sanchez had a very special phone call to make when he found out he’d be playing against Tottenham Hotspur – exactly six years after he joined the club.
The 22-year-old learned he’d be making his Premier League debut on the Saturday and the first person he contacted was his mother, Maria Isabel, who along with his father, Juan Gabriel, said goodbye to their son at the age of just 15 so he could pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer in England.
He said, “When you feel in a good moment you can tell when something like this might be coming.
“I always call my mum and kept telling her my chance would come. I speak to her all of the time and she always tells me how proud she is of me.
“On Saturday I called her and told her they’d have to sort out being able to watch it on TV! She let some of our other friends know as well and was obviously very happy.
“I had a lot of my family and friends watching. My Mum called me after the game, and I got what felt like 1,000 text messages as well. I had to put my phone on silent for a few hours!”
The 22-year-old grew up in Cartagena – a port city in the Murcia region of southeast Spain. He recognises the sacrifices they made when he first started playing aged four.
“My parents did everything for me, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be a footballer today.
“My mum was always searching for football camps for me to go to during the summer and my dad worked hard to earn money so I could go to tournaments. They gave all their energy for me.
“My Dad would start work earlier some days so he could get away and take me to training to Murcia. I owe so much to them, they are a massive part of why I am here today.”