His inclusion on the plane to Russia may not have raised many eyebrows, but by being part of Julen Lopetegui’s confirmed 23 on Monday, Benalmádena-born Isco became only the third player from the province of Malaga to go to a World Cup.
The midfielder, who helped Real Madrid to Champions League victory with a 3-1 win over Liverpool on 26 May, joins an elite club which until now only had two members.
The first was legendary forward Juanito. Born in Fuengirola in 1954, he went on to represent Spain at the 1978 edition in Argentina and scored a penalty in the the tournament hosted on home soil in 1982. He wouldn’t add to his tally, however, as he was tragically killed in a car crash in 1992 at the age of 37.
Fernando Hierro, who most famously represented Real Madrid (and latterly Bolton Wanderers), played in every World Cup between 1990 and 2002. Born in Velez-Malaga, the central defender cum midfield anchorman, was second on this exclusive list.
Now Isco, who made his name at Malaga before a 30-million-euro move to Real, is set to be a starter for Spain in Russia, having gained the trust of Lopetegui, despite not necessarily being a regular under Zinedine Zidane at his club this season.
The 26-year-old, after being granted an extended break alongside his Real teammates following their Champions League exploits, joined up with the squad on Friday but was not involved in Sunday’s friendly draw against Switzerland (1-1).