“It was a dream to score against Madrid, four I couldn’t even imagine,” Valentín, Taty, Castellanos (Mendoza, Argentina, 24 years old) confesses smiling at the foot of the field, just after beating Real Madrid (4-2) and having entered the history of the League. He is the first player to score four goals against Real Madrid in the 21st century in a domestic competition. One would have to go back 75 years to find the last footballer who scored goals against the whites in the league: Esteban Echevarría, an Oviedo player who endorsed five goals against Madrid in December 1947.
The young man from Mendoza, an insatiable, passionate and hard-working striker, always had a goal in his boots. And he gets very upset when he leaves a game without scoring. “He is a calm and familiar boy. Very much from his father, from his mother and from his brother, who lives with him. He likes to be at his house, walk the dog, go to the beach or watch a series. He is simple and humble, ”say people close to the player. His beginnings were not in Argentina, where opportunities were scarce and he could not show his football. He was rejected by River Plate and by Atlético Lanús. At the age of 17 he went to the University of Chile, but in the neighboring country he did not enjoy the necessary minutes either. Until in July 2017 he would change his luck, not so much because of the team he left for, the Uruguayan Montevideo City Torque, but because of the business group to which the club belonged, the City Football Group. “We didn’t have to convince him much, what’s more, I always told him that he was crazy, in his place I would not have come while I was in the U of Chile. It was a risky bet, but it worked out for him,” says Germán Brunati, sports director of the Montevideo club, on the phone.
Since then Castellanos has moved through ‘satellite’ teams of the football conglomerate of the owners of Manchester City. A year later he left for another property entity cityzen, this time to New York City of Major League Soccer (MLS). Taty arrived at the age of 19 and in four seasons he became the star of the New York team, where he would also score four goals in one game: it was in April last year against Salt Lake City, they won 6-0. During his stay in the Big Apple he scored 54 goals, won a league title in 2021 and became the top scorer in this league with 19 goals. A friend of David Villa, with whom he connected in a few months both on and off the field, he was an idol in New York and in American soccer. “Valentín was a fast and powerful winger, although he did not yet have the physique that he has now. In one year in MLS he has grown a lot. He was not very good at one-on-one and Pablo Marini, Torque’s coach, did not like the static 9, he wanted a 9 that went more into space, and he transformed Taty into a 9”, adds Brunati.
But the Argentine wanted more, he wanted to end up in Europe, and he got it. In the summer of 2022 he would arrive on loan to Girona, the club owned by the City Football Group and at the same time the largest shareholder with 47% of its shares. The expectation for the arrival of the MLS scorer to the Catalan team contrasted with doubts about his adaptation to the Spanish league, much faster and more competitive than the American one. “You have to fight a lot more. In the MLS you could get 10 or 15 opportunities and here you get four or five and you have to take advantage of them”, Taty assured in an interview with ‘Mundo Deportivo’ at the beginning of the season. But for the Mendoza player, who despite taking ownership away from Stuani, things did not work out for him. And the pressure increased more and more to the point of breaking down in tears after drawing (0-0) at the Camp Nou. At the culé stadium he had the opportunity that every striker dreams of. It was the clearest of the game. He stood in front of the goal with his teammate Tsygankov and instead of conceding the goal to the Ukrainian, Taty showed personality and courage, but missed a Ter Stegen who was already winning to the disbelief of his team. His companions raised their hands to their heads. The guilt of that action, which deprived Girona of its first victory against Barça, made him leave the pitch crying; The fierce criticism of the Internet also led the boy to close his social networks that same night. “That ruling hit him emotionally because he was very excited to play at the Camp Nou and to play a great game, he ended up very frustrated,” they say from his surroundings.
Touched, but not sunk, Taty continued working as she has always done; guided by his superstitions: he always passes a stick through his shirt, socks and pants before playing. And that’s how he knew how to reverse the trend: he scored against Elche two days ago. But his true liberation, his explosion, came this Tuesday against Real Madrid, where a determined Castellanos showed his worth and his work to fulfill his dream raised to four, make a poker against Real Madrid (4-2) and seal the permanence of the Girona. “The best thing that Taty has is that his head leads him to constantly improve. I have no doubt that these four goals were the product of having missed an incredible one against Barcelona. I needed something like this to erase that moment. He is a very competitive person, ”Brunati concludes.
“Tatty deserves it. After turning Twitter off I’m glad she turned it back on. It is a step forward for the player to understand that this is what happens here, that we are a team that is always looking to score a goal”, assured the coach, Míchel, who trusted the Argentine from the first day and who had a talk with the boy the day after failing at the Camp Nou. He assured her that the mistake would help her grow and learn. The Madrid coach and his physio are being a fundamental piece in his adaptation to Spain, both tactically and physically. The striker has started 28 of the 29 games he has played and his patience is beginning to pay off with 11 goals in his first season in Europe.
His dream, by the way, is to meet Messi and he may be close to fulfilling it. The Girona forward, with characteristics similar to Julián Álvarez, is in the orbit of the Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni for the 2026 World Cup.
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.