Eduardo Camavinga has emerged as one of Real Madrid’s game-changers and has helped bail them out on their passage to the Champions League final… mentored by Karim Benzema, Liverpool are among the clubs regretting missing out on him
- Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is one of Europe’s best young talents
- He has made a vital contribution on the path to the Champions League final
- Camavinga has helped bail Real Madrid out along with Rodrygo off the bench
- Captain Karim Benzema has acted as a mentor and big brother to the teenager
- He will have more than played his part if Madrid are to beat Liverpool in the final
When a young Eduardo Camavinga was in school one day, looked out the window and saw fire engines hurtling past at the time he thought little of it.
It was only at the end of that day that one of his teachers approached him and his younger sister to break the devastating news.
It was their house, in Lecousse, near Rennes, built by his parents and that the Camavingas had lived in for less than a year, that those emergency vehicles were racing to.
Eduardo Camavinga has emerged as one of Europe’s finest young midfielders at Real Madrid
The Frenchman has helped bail Real Madrid out on their route to the Champions League final
The siblings were collected from school by their dad and taken to see for themselves the damage that had been caused by the blaze which started upstairs where Camavinga’s bedroom was.
The family lost nearly everything, from clothes to identity documents.
The mayor helped relocate them and the local club he played for at the time, Drapeau de Fougeres, organized donations of clothes and furniture.
Camavinga (right) and Rodrygo have played big parts coming off the bench in the competition
But it was to the family’s promising 10 year-old footballer – invited to a summer tournament by Rennes on the day of the fire – that attention soon turned to.
‘Eduardo, you are the hope of the family, it is you who will raise it up,’ his father Celestino told him.
Camavinga recalls laughing it off at the time but grasping the seriousness of his father’s words as he grew older and his mother Sofia reminded him of them. He promised to carry the burden by using his talents to help his hard-working family.
Camavinga is now at Real Madrid, one of Europe’s best young talents and has his parents, three sisters and two brothers all living with him, doubling as his support network, in their new family home in Spain.
The 19 year-old midfielder has delivered all that was asked of him and some.
Camavinga showing maturity well beyond his years, relishing responsibility and being totally unfazed under pressure?
Anyone who has followed his career since he became Rennes’s youngest ever player aged 16 and six months and noted his contribution to Madrid’s thrilling run to the Champions League final will recognise those personality traits.
Those qualities combined with his passing ability, composure, energy and tenacity have seen Camavinga emerge as one of Madrid’s game-changers in this season’s competition. Liverpool are long-standing admirers of Camavinga so may not be surprised.
Camavinga’s impact since joining Madrid begs the question – why he hasn’t played more?
Along with Brazilian winger Rodrygo, when Madrid have been staring defeat in the face it is Camavinga that Carlo Ancelotti has called on to help bail them out.
Madrid’s crucial knockout stage second legs against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City have all turned back in the Spaniard’s favour when they were on course to crash out following Camavinga’s introduction off the bench.
Camavinga’s impact has begged the question why he has not played a little more often since his £34m move from Rennes last summer, starting just 15 of his 39 appearances this season.
In the opportunities he has received, though, Camavinga has already displayed enough to leave those who missed out on him last summer with regret.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain showed interest in the Congo-born France international but while they deliberated Madrid put their money down.
Real Madrid beat a host of clubs to sign the teenager last summer from French side Rennes
While there is a natural, professional desire to play more, Camavinga is happy with life at Madrid, where he is set to be joined by his younger brother Celio when he joins the club’s academy for next season.
He is not the type to feel the pressure of playing for the world’s biggest club and every opportunity is viewed instead as simply a chance to show how he is improving and why Madrid bought him.
He understands he still has things to learn and considers the education he gets watching the likes of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro from the bench as just as valuable an experience as playing at Rennes would be. That is keeping him relaxed along with knowing that he is Madrid’s future.
Karim Benzema, Madrid’s captain and talisman, has been like a big brother to Camavinga since his arrival, acting as the sort of mentor he could have done with himself when he arrived at Madrid in 2009.
Karim Benzema has acted like a mentor and big brother to his 19-year-old French compatriot
Benzema wants to help Camavinga avoid repeating the mistakes he made and ensure he makes the most of the chance he has earned.
Knowing as well as anyone how the world of Real Madrid operates Benzema has been stressing to Camavinga the importance of not being shy and speaking up if he needs an answer to something he doesn’t know, understanding that at big clubs managers do not feel the need to explain their decisions, staying calm if he is not playing and blocking out external distractions where judgement awaits.
Ancelotti’s main advice has been about avoiding early yellow cards as his all-action style leaves him at risk.
Not much fazes Camavinga though he has joked with friends about being caught out by the fact that winning rarely generates much fanfare at Madrid such are their high standards.
If Real Madrid are to win their 14th Champions League he will have more than played his part
Having come from Rennes where every victory was well-celebrated, whether that is in the dressing room, with a post-match party or restaurant get-together, some adjustment has been required.
Madrid’s Spanish Super Cup victory in Saudi Arabia in January for example, was marked with little more than a pat on the back and ‘see you tomorrow,’ much to Camavinga’s surprise.
The Champions League is treated very differently though as Camavinga may discover. There will be a party if Madrid win it for a 14th time.
And if they triumph once again Camavinga will have more than played his part.
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