We're all well aware of Jamie Vardy's rags-to-riches story, which saw the Leicester striker rise through non-league football with Fleetwood Town to earn a £1 million move to the Foxes, where he won the Premier League with the East Midlands club and found himself a regular starter for England. It is one of the best stories to come out of the professional game in recent history, and one that is rightfully talked about among supporters of the game across the world.
Now, in Spain, a similar situation is unfolding. 32-year-old Enric Gallego was playing semi-professional just a year ago but has just earned a move to the country's top-flight, signing for Getafe for €6 million after impressing for Huesca last season. Having worked as a builder, an air conditioning engineer and a lorry driver whilst playing part-time, Gallego only made his professional debut a year ago, aged 31.
His lucky break came when he was signed by Segunda Division side Extremadura UD in January of 2018 after scoring 46 goals in 98 appearances for third division outfit UE Cornellà. His exploits for Extremadura - where he found the net 15 times in just four months - earned the front man a €2 million move to La Liga, where he would go on to score five goals for Huesca. Unfortunately, Gallego's goals couldn't help steer the club away from relegation, but it wasn't to be the end for the Spanish striker in the country's first-tier.
La Liga side Getafe triggered the 32-year-old's €6 million release clause last week, which means that he will pit his wits against the likes of Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard this coming season.
Getafe will also be playing in the Europa League after obtaining a fifth-place finish in La Liga last term, alongside European heavyweights Manchester United, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Bayer Leverkusen. It is a stark contrast to what Gallego has been used to, playing on pitches which contained more sand than grass in Spain's non-league just over a year ago.
Gallego's story is both heartwarming and inspiring, and he is extremely thankful for everything.
"Everyone in professional football values work; they have parents, sisters and brothers who work, but having lived what I've lived, perhaps I appreciate everything a little bit more." he told Reuters.
Good luck, Enric. We hope to see you scoring a last-minute winner at the Camp Nou this season.