It is one of the most recognisable sights in our wonderful game.
The number seven on the back of a crisp white Real Madrid kit.
A shirt representing regal class, history, tradition and surely holding the name of an international superstar, right?
The legend of the shirt’s origins can go back to the 1950s when the great Raymond Kopa won the Ballon d’Or while donning the shirt.
More Los Blancos heroes such as Amancio Amaro, Juanito, and Emilio Butragueno carried the legacy up until the 1990s.
Madrid’s creme de la creme over the 20th century helped to build the legend of the shirt.
For the past two decades, the number seven has been worn by two modern icons, both of the club and the game.
Raul held the shirt from 1995 right up until his departure in 2010.
A class act and a club legend, who helped immortalise the shirt.
Then – for what seemed an eternity – it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s name that carried the significant weight of the shirt.
He began his career as their number nine but inherited the seven shirt from the departing Raul in 2010.
The Portuguese forward ended his Madrid career as their record goalscorer and their go to-man for the best part of a decade.
Ronaldo’s image and talent only made the infamous shirt more renowned.
The pressure of the wearing the shirt was never as high as it was in the summer following Ronaldo’s move to Juventus.
It cast a shadow over the squad with Marco Asensio reportedly turned down the opportunity to swap from his number 20 to seven.
So who would step up? Did Isco or Gareth Bale have it in them? Who was next in line for the honour?
The heir to the thrown ended up being their summer signing, Mariano Diaz.
Madrid’s former academy player who had been sold to Lyon the previous summer was re-signed and thrown in at the deep end.
He was given the mammoth responsibility of wearing the number seven jersey – apparently at his request.
Having scored 21 goals for the French side last year, the 25-year-old has struggled with the responsibility.
Mariano was playing a bit-part role for Julen Lopetegui, largely coming off the bench to little effect at the start of the season.
He then suffered both nervous and muscular injuries in the run up to Christmas.
His record before the New Year in La Liga – played five, lost four. Talk about a baptism of fire.
Mariano returned to the Bernabeu last night following his spell on the touchlines and his performance will have given the fans a glimmer of hope.
Initially, the Madrid faithful will have been pulling their hair out as his first touch (if he touches it) after coming on was anything but Real Madrid standard.
It was Sunday League stuff.
The forward claimed he was nervous coming on last night following his poor start to the season.
Especially playing in front of the Madrid fans, who famously don’t need an excuse to turn on their own players.
Mariano got his goal in added time to seal a 3-0 win against Alaves.
And it was just what you want from your front man. A great diving header planted in the top corner. Perfect.
A goal a certain Juventus number seven would have been proud of.
While Ronaldo leads the Serie A scoring charts, his ghost at Real Madrid grows larger with the club sitting eight points behind runaway La Liga leaders, Barcelona.
Should Madrid want to rid the ghost of seasons past, then their current number seven could have a large impact in breathing a new lease of life into the Spanish capital.
A goal and a comical mishap last night indicated that Madrid fans might have to be slightly more patient than they are used to with this new number seven.
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