Joselu's incredible journey from Newcastle and Stoke woes to Real Madrid Champions League hero

Newcastle flop Joselu has written his name in Real Madrid folklore
Former Newcastle forward Joselu has written his name in Real Madrid folklore -Credit:Alvaro Medranda/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Joselu is the toast of the Bernabeu after his brace helped Real Madrid squeeze past Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals - a feat made all the more remarkable following the veteran's undercooked spells at Stoke City and Newcastle United.

The 34-year-old striker scored four times in 27 matches for Stoke during the 2015/16 season, having cost just under £6million from German club Hannover 96. His poor return saw him sold for £5m in 2017 after a loan spell at Deportivo La Coruna attracted attention from Newcastle.

The Spaniard - who had come through the ranks of Celta Vigo and Real before stints in Germany at Hoffenheim, Frankfurt and Hannover - scored just seven times in 52 appearances across two seasons for Newcastle and returned to Spain with a beleaguered reputation.

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Joselu arrived at Alaves for £2.5m in 2019 where he rebuilt his confidence. The attacker scored 36 goals in 113 appearances across three years, recording an average of a goal every three games. Espanyol managed to snap him up for free in 2022, and he recorded 17 goals in 37 games to finish as LaLiga’s third-highest scorer and attract the attention of Real Madrid - the club where he began his career.

Carlo Ancelotti acquired Joselu on loan last summer in a move thought unthinkable eight years earlier, when he trudged off the pitch at the Bet365 Stadium in May 2016 after a languid final Stoke display against West Ham.

Before rocking up at the Bernabeu, he had earned his first caps for Spain, scoring twice on debut against Norway in March 2023. Since then, he has recorded nine more games and three more goals, and is perhaps on course to be taken to this summer’s European Championships.

In a full circle move, ending up back at the club where he has played as a youth graduate, he arrived in Madrid with questions hanging over him - but Joselu has proved a valuable option for Ancelotti. Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg, Joselu had scored 14 goals across all competitions, one of which came in the Madrid derby against Atletico.

He started Wednesday night's second leg on the bench, but came on with nine minutes to go to mark his name in the Madrid echelons of incredible Champions League comebacks.

After pouncing on a Manuel Neuer mistake to level the tie 1-1 on the night (3-3 on aggregate) on 88 minutes, his guided effort three minutes later was initially flagged offside by the assistant referee. However, it was then ruled onside by VAR to send the Bernabeu crazy as the 14-time champions secured a 2-1 (4-3 agg.) comeback win; not bad for a bloke who couldn’t do it on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke.