Yannick Carrasco (Ixelles, 1993) knows what it’s like to have to fight for what you want. Left out of the team on various occasions at the beginning of la Liga, he is playing his way to the top of the Aleti pecking order with increasingly pivotal performances. Nothing new for the 22 year-old then, who has been fighting against the odds since birth.
His passport reads Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, but he dropped the first surname after his Portuguese father left his mother to raise him and his younger brother Mylan alone. Carmen Carrasco is a Sevillan native and is much admired by her son whose star is rising at the Calderón. His brother is now 21 and also a footballer, but there is no paternal figure in the household, and Yannick says he owes it all to his mother.
“She’s very important to me, I owe her almost everything I have. I haven’t seen my father in 15 years. She gave me the belief when I played at Genk and supported me when I gave up studying to concentrate on football. She’s had it hard, single mother to four kids [Hugo and Celia, born to another relationship, are his younger siblings], I’m eternally grateful to her. She’s everything to me”, he said to Het Laatste Nieuws in Belgium.
At 11 he left Vilvoorde, a neighbourhood mostly populated by immigrants on the outskirts of Brussels, and arrived alone at the Genk youth set-up, leaving behind the home language of Flamenco, to live with a host family. “I had a hard time”, he admitted. He emerged stronger and better for the experience however, and was picked up by Mónaco where he went on to lead a first team that had shed its stars in the 14-15 season.
At both clubs he left his mark with his own personal brand of introspective calm, a quality greatly appreciated at Atlético Madrid; he is happy in Madrid living alone, his mother and the rest of the family back in Belgium. His discreet profile doesn’t hide insecurity though; on the contrary: “What surprised me most was his maturity for his age. I’ve never seen a footballer so sure of his own ability”, explained Frédéric Barilaro, ex-director of education at Mónaco.
Carrasco doesn’t hide; he gets on the ball, tries, if he fails he tries again and never loses that belief in his own ability. His goal against Valencia is the perfect example: with a simple pass on, he bet the house on himself, and won. His refusal to give up, bravery and talent convinced at Genk, then at Mónaco, with the Belgian national side (he has three caps), in Simeone’s training sessions and finally, the Calderón, which rose to their feet for him chanting his name as he came off the pitch under a clear Madrid sky. “That makes me happy”, concluded Carrasco.