On Wednesday evening Spain international goalkeeper Pau Lopez became our third signing of the summer.
Get to know a little more about the goalkeeper…
1. Pau Lopez was born on 13 December 1994 in Girona, Catalonia – although he grew up in Sant Esteve de Llemena, nearer the Pyrenees.
2. He began playing football as a child. He started out in goal, but soon made a decision: he wanted to play up front and score goals. But this conviction lasted only a few games, quickly realising that playing up front wasn’t his best role. He soon turned his focus to basketball but, when his father Ignasi brought him to Girona, young Pau returned to football and continued to play in goal. Soon enough, he joined Girona’s Under-9 side.
3. In 2007, as part of the Under-15s at Espanyol, Lopez’s career took an important turn. Up until that point he had never been the tallest goalkeeper, but in three months he grew 12 centimetres – taking him up to 1.89m in height.
With that additional height came additional potential; soon after he made his debut with Espanyol B in the lower leagues of Spanish football and, in December 2014, he made his first-team debut in the Coppa del Rey against Alaves.
4. At Espanyol, Lopez had the perfect environment to develop. He was trained there by Thomas N’Kono, an icon of African football and one of the most renowned goalkeepers of the early 1990s. By then he was also an experienced coach, one who saw a lot of potential in Lopez.
“I would die to coach people like him, he gives everything and enjoys it too,” N’Kono once said. “He’s developing into a great goalkeeper.”
5. After making his senior debut in the Copa del Rey, Lopez went on to play in every game in that competition prior to Espanyol’s semi-final elimination at the hands of Athletic Club.
After Kiko Casilla was sold to Real Madrid that summer, Lopez inherited his starting role.
6. In August 2016 Lopez left Espanyol, joining English side Tottenham Hotspur on loan. There the coach was Mauricio Pochettino, who had previously worked with him during his time as Espanyol coach.
But the spell did not necessarily work out as expected for either party: Lopez made a handful of appearances for the reserve side in London, but never started for the first-team. At the end of the season he returned to Espanyol, becoming the starter once again.
7. In the summer of 2018 Lopez left Espanyol to join Real Betis. He went on to make 33 league appearances for the club during the season, keeping 10 clean sheets and conceding 47 goals.
8. Lithe and agile but with great reflexes between the sticks, Lopez is also comfortable with the ball at his feet and – for his age – has already acquired considerable appearance. With 100 appearances in La Liga to his name already, Lopez also has a variety of experience with the national team – including five appearances for Spain’s Under-21.
He has previously represented Catalonia in a number of matches and, in November 2018, made his full debut for Spain during a friendly match against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
9. Lopez counts among his goalkeeper idols Kiko Casilla – whom he succeeded as Espanyol No. 1 – and Manuel Neuer, the Bayern Munich and Germany star.
10. Lopez is on Instagram, and can be followed @paulopez_13.