REAL MADRID

7 things you never knew about Mariano: his Dad is a body builder...

Real Madrid have decided to recall a player who is relatively unknown. Espanyol rejected him for being too short, Zidane 'rescued' him from his muscular injuries...

Real Madrid have decided to recall a player they let go just over 12 months ago - Mariano Díaz, a player who will fill the No.9 position which Julen Lopetegui is keen to strengthen. For many fans, little is known about the player, who has duel Spanish-Dominican nationality. Here are seven things you might not have known about Madrid's next signing...

1) Grandfather was a footballer, his Dad is a body builder...

Mariano Díaz is the third Mariano Díaz in the family after his grandfather, who was also a professional player at a modest Catalan club; and also his father, a body builder who ran a gym in Premià del Mar, the region on the Catalunya coast where Mariano was born.

2) Espanyol rejected him because he was too short...

He joined Espanyol's Under-12s with whom he took part in the popular Fútbol 7 tournaments which Canal + organized. But coaching staff were not entirely convinced. He only lasted two seasons before returning to CE Premià. "They kicked him out for being too short", a member of the player's close circle recalled.

3) One appearance for Dominican Republic

He always dreamt about playing for Spain - which is why he declined numerous invitations to play for the Dominican Republic, which he was eligible for on his mother's side. But Mariano did play for his mother's homeland once. In 2013, when he was still at Real Madrid C, he accepted a call from the Dominican Republic national team to play a friendly in Haiti. That would not go against him if Luis Enrique decides to call him up for Spain at some point in the future.

4) Zidane to the rescue

Halfway through the 2014-15 season, Mariano was plagued by a incessant series of muscular injuries which threatened to put his future at La Fábrica in doubt. He sought advise from Zidane, who put him in contact with a Swiss specialist who found out what the problem was and since then, he's hardly had any injury problems at all. 

5) Boxing fan: McGregor and Maravilla Alonso...

Mariano, con el boxeador Maravilla Alonso.

Mariano, a player who loves being right in the thick of the action, is a huge fan of contact sports - mixed martial arts, boxing and UFC. He has openly shown his support for Conor McGregor, as well as light welterweight boxer Jonathan Maravilla Alonso, who also has Dominican roots.

6) Behind the wheel.

Apart from being a dab hand at putting the ball away, Mariano is also an excellent driver. Last season he finished third in a go-karting tournament which Audi organized for the Real Madrid squad. He was only pipped to the checkered flag by Nacho and Ramos...

7) La Bête, the Beast

During his one and only season in France, he acquired a nckname from Lyon fans: La Bête (The Beast) for his physical strength and aggressive style as a striker. 

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