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Keeping it real
Nolito comes from a working class background and says he is just a normal guy who tries to live a normal life. He said: “'I try to be a normal person in spite of the repercussions of me being a footballer. I like messing about with friends; I know that when all this ends I will just go back to being somebody normal.'
Much of this no doubt comes from his childhood where he was brought up by his grandparents Delores and Manuel, living in a household of 12. His grandfather was a fishmonger and it was he who convinced Nolito to follow his dream of being a footballer – he lived long enough to see his grandson sign for his beloved Barcelona.
He dedicates every goal to Manuel as well as his partner Laura and daughter Lola.
Nolito is not one for big cars and bling – he drove a mini to training at Celta Vigo and commented: “Of course, as footballers we get paid a lot, some more than others, but the greatest satisfaction comes from making people happy with the football you play. You can't buy that with all the money in the world.'
Nolito had a job as a butcher’s boy aged 13 and because his grandmother had 11 children, he has more than 30 cousins.
When on international duty Nolito enjoys playing poker and listening to Flamenco music – apparently even more than Spain team-mate Sergio Ramos, often turning the music up loud for the enjoyment of his colleagues whenever it’s played.
Nolito has earned a reputation for making memorable debuts for his new club. At Celta Vigo he took the corner that ended with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring an own goal and giving Celta their first win over Real for 40 years.
At Benfica he scored successive goals in his first five matches, earning comparisons with the legendary Benfica star Eusebio, no less! He bagged two goals in his first game – a Champions League preliminary match with Trabzonspor.
Barca boss Luis Enrique is a sort of father figure to Nolito having coached him at Barcelona B and Celta Vigo. He told his striker to believe in himself more and drastically change his diet – something he did to great effect. “I was at a career crossroads when I began to work with him,' says Nolito.
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