Sunday Story: Diego Caballo

By Jeremy Walker

Sky Blues Spanish left-back Diego Caballo is loving life ‘Down Under’ as he reflects on his time at Real Madrid, training with Cristiano Ronaldo, plus where to find the best paella.

The Salamanca-born fullback is settling in smoothly to life on the harbourside as he competes in his first football season outside of Spain.

And after spending 10 seasons in Spanish professional football, Caballo is no stranger to some of the world’s best players.

I was training with Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Modric and Marcelo

Diego Caballo

“At Real Madrid when I was younger I could learn a lot of things from the great players because I was young and it was like living in another world,” said Caballo.

“Obviously it was very difficult to get in the starting eleven at Real Madrid, but I was training with Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Modrić and Marcelo so when I got the opportunity I tried to learn as soon as possible.”

Benzema, Ronaldo and Modric at Real Madric

“The level was very difficult, but it was a great learning experience and there was no pressure because I was younger and I didn’t have to think about the press or other situations, I only wanted to win games and enjoy the training and the first team were very supportive and did everything to help me.”

Caballo represented Real Madrid Castilla and made his professional debut for Real Madrid C against Atlético Madrid B in 2013.

The 28-year-old also played for Real Madrid U18’s and U19’s in his youth days and has two caps for the Spanish U17’s national team.

“I really enjoyed my time with the national youth team, I was a teenager and I had the opportunity one day to train with the first team of the national team,” the fullback said.

“I was training with Iniesta, Xaxi, Fernando Torres, David Villa and Sergio Ramos and at the time Spain were the winners of la Copa Mundial, the World Cup, and were also European champions then too so it was a crazy experience.”

And the defender will be closely following La Furia Roja, the Spanish national side, at this month’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

“I think that Spain’s national team is a new team, a younger team,” Caballo explained.

“We used to be the best team in the world, the winner of the World Cup and the Euros, and now the older players involved in those wins are not there.

“It’s different this tournament because our team has World Cup experience and we also have players like Pedri and Gavi, stars from Barcelona, but for a lot of players it is their first World Cup so we will see!”

In addition to representing his country, the Spanish fullback has also spent time at Valencia CF between 2015-2017 and Deportivo La Coruña in 2018/19.

Applying his trade in Valencia, Caballo is expert in judging Spanish paella – Spain’s national dish which originated in the port city.

“I’ve had the paella in Sydney and in Spain it’s a bit different because we don’t put in chorizo!” said Caballo.

“We never have chorizo in it! It’s more seafood in there so in Valencia it’s more different, if you go to Alicante the paella is even better and in Sydney the restaurant Tapavino is a very good one.”

Diego Caballo playing with Albacete BP

Since joining the Sky Blues in July, the left-back has integrated finely into Sydney life, enjoying time with his teammates before his family arrives in Australia.

“In the time that I’ve spent here I have been able to enjoy time with my colleagues and the little things in life but I’m really just wishing that my family can get here as soon as possible,” the defender said.

“So it’s been a few good months but it has also been very hard to not see my family because I love to spend time with them.

“When I have my family here I will be able to enjoy the city more and the beautiful places that it has.”

Diego in training

Awaiting his loved ones, Caballo is utilising the support of Sydney FC and the club’s family-orientated environment – remaining focused on producing his best football for the team.

“I’m very happy with the supporters and the Cove,” said Caballo.

“Whether you are home or away you can really feel them and like away at Macarthur a couple of weeks ago the supporters were incredible.

“And Steve Corica has helped me a lot too, helping me in defence playing out from the back and also moving the ball forward. Everything is very new at the moment only a few games at the start of the season so you need time to make it work properly within a team.

“We have a lot of new players but I think it can be a good year for us.”