2013/14 Spanish La Liga
Goalkeeper Diego Lopez made the move back to Real Madrid from Sevilla after an injury to Iker Casillas in January 2013.
It took some time for Lopez's career to take off in Spanish football despite being signed by Spanish giants Madrid at just 19 years old. He was a youth graduate from his hometown club CD Lugo before securing his big move as a teenager and spent three seasons in the Real Madrid C team with a loan spell at lower-league AC Alcorcon in his second season. When he returned he was promoted to the B team where he played for two seasons.
In 2005, Lopez got his big break. He was promoted again to the first-team where he played as Casillas' understudy until 2007. At the back end of the 2005-06 season he played in two consecutive away wins while Casillas was suspended and the next season in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Olympiakos in the Champions League.
But in June 2007 he moved to Villareal for a reported £6 million. He began the season as second-choice behind Sebastian Viera but was given domestic cup games and UEFA cup games to impress and did exactly that as he finished his first season with 20 appearances for the first-team.
During his time at Villareal, Lopez was called up for international recognition as third choice goalkeeper for Spain's Confederations Cup in 2009 and World Cup Qualifiers in 2010. He made his only appearance in a Spain shirt in 2009 where he played the last 30 minutes in a friendly against Macedonia.
Despite relegation his stock was still high and Sevilla signed him for £3.5 million in May 2012 where he was used in a rotational policy with Andres Palop. After just six months at the club, Real Madrid came calling as Casillas suffered a broken hand. He signed a three-and-a-half year deal in January 2013 and claimed he had always dreamed of rejoining the club.
Strengths: A superb shot-stopper and having an excellent command of his area is no coincidence. Lopez's ability to concentrate fully for 90 minutes allows him to keep goal effectively and provides him and his defence with confidence.
Weaknesses: His distribution is not a particularly strong point, unlike many of the other Spanish goalkeepers at the moment. A reason perhaps he has been overlooked at international level.
Career high: Playing every minute of every match for two seasons at Villareal where they finished 5th and 7th.
Career low: Relegation to the second tier of Spanish football with Villareal.
Style: Brilliant shot-stopper, confident command of his area and a huge presence in goal.
Quotes: "For a Madridista like myself, to return to Real Madrid is the best thing that could have happened in my career. I am eager to start this great new challenge." - Diego Lopez on returning to his boyhood club. January 2013.
Trivia: Diego Lopez has played three times for the Galician Football Federation national team despite the nation not being recognised by FIFA or UEFA.
SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISIÓN