Ten things on Bayern Munich and Chile's Arturo Vidal
Arturo Vidal has lived up to his billing as one of the world's best midfielders in the colours of Bundesliga record champions Bayern Munich.
1) 'We're gonna need a bigger birthday cake'
bundesliga.com lays bare ten facts about 'King Arturo', the warrior-like Chilean midfielder who has reigned supreme in the middle of the park for Bayern since 2015.
There must be a sprinkling of stardust about 22 May. Composer Richard Wagner, Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Smiths front man Morrissey and former European Footballer of the Year George Best all came into this world on the same day of the year as Vidal. Born in the Santiago suburb of San Joaquin, Arturo Erasmo — his dad's name — Vidal Pardo arrived in 1987 within hours of former tennis world number one Novak Djokovic on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Watch: Arturo Vidal's roots - from Santiago's backstreets to the Bundesliga
2) Making of the Warrior
In an X-files-esque twist, Victor Hugo died on 22 May (in 1885 if you're interested), and it was an uncle by the same name as the world-famous French author who first thought young Arturo could make a mark in the game.
After featuring in the colours of Rodelindo Roman in his local neighbourhood, Vidal joined Santiago icons Colo Colo aged 12. Under youth coach Hugo Gonzales, he flourished, eventually helping the side win three successive championships. And why did he start playing the game? "I liked football and wanted to help my family."
Watch: Warrior Arturo Vidal is on fire
3) 'Run, Arturo, run!'
Those closest to him, notably his mother, Jacqueline, whose face he has tattooed on his right arm, helped forge the unflinching character that has taken Vidal to the top of the world game.
"She always told me to be consistent in everything I do, and fight for what I want. Always," said Vidal, whose refusal to know when he is beaten makes him an opponent's worst nightmare. "Training or match, it doesn't make a difference: I run and want to win. It's the same in life."
That unending search for success has earned him the nickname 'el Guerrero', the Warrior. "I like it. It describes my style of play and my character well," said Vidal, who is probably happy no-one in Europe stuck with his first nickname, the less intimidating 'Celia Punk' in honour of the famous Cuban singer Celia Cruz.
4) Rudi awakening
5) Sink or swim
He dived full length into his new life, though even he struggled at first to keep his head above water on the banks of the Rhine.
"It was very hard, at 19. The language, the cold, the people, everything in Germany was different to home. My agent stayed for two months, then I was on my own."
Fortunately, he adapted quicker to the Bundesliga than beer and bratwurst after then-Leverkusen boss Michael Skibbe had handed him his debut. His last season with Die Werkself, the 2010/11 campaign, was his best as his side finished league runners-up and he registered 11 assists, the second-best tally of any Bundesliga player that term.
6) Turin proud
Juventus were not the only team to take note, but the Turin giants beat the likes of Bayern Munich to Vidal's signature in 2011, because he "wanted to come to Italy, it was my dream."
He also fulfilled those of Juve fans as he contributed to four successive scudetti and cleared up the question over his best position. "He can play at left-back or right-back, as an anchor man or an attacking midfielder. He has so much potential," Völler had said of Vidal when he moved to Germany.
He had played virtually all of those positions, but used by then-Juve boss Antonio Conte in a three-man midfield with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio, Vidal was finally a round peg in the right hole. "Vidal runs for four," said Marchisio admiringly.
7) A Study in Ink
Vidal's wildly successful spell in Italy provided the inspiration for some of the tattoos inked on his body: four stars representing the quartet of national titles he claimed and, just above the waistband of his shorts, the words 'Il campione', the champion in Italian.
'Familia' is written on his neck, as are his initials, while 'Rey Arturo' — King Arturo, another of his nicknames — features on an arm. The most meaningful perhaps is that of an insulin pump on his stomach, a tribute to his son, Alonso, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes.
8) Hero of the Nation
9) Vidal signs
The Bundesliga's record champions finally got their man in 2015 when Vidal moved to Munich. "He's a winner with an exceptional attitude. With his tackling, his goal threat and his flexibility, he'll do us good," is how Bayern's then-sporting director Matthias Sammer described his club's über-versatile acquisition.
If by 'doing good' Sammer foresaw back-to-back Bundesliga titles in Vidal's first two seasons at the Allianz Arena, he was exactly right. "There are no doubts about Vidal's quality," said former Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, and no-one's arguing with him, especially with his ex-player producing some of the best football of his career right now under Jupp Heynckes.