(fashion) It didn’t taken long for Dani Ceballos to win over Arsenal supporters. An hour into his home debut he robbed Burnley’s Johann Gudmundsson and played in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the winner. The Emirates sensed this could be the start of something special.
Wind back his career clock about seven years to the day he was discovered by Spanish club Betis and the story of instant impact is very similar.
Betis scout Aurelio Santos had turned up to a regional under-16s game to watch two opposing full-backs, when a midfield tearaway who he knew nothing about stole the show.
Dani Ceballos has already impressed Arsenal fans since joining on loan from Real Madrid
The midfielder is an all-action player and can create something out of nothing
Just 15 minutes into the game he called his assistant to see if the name ‘Ceballos’ figured in the club’s huge database but there was no trace.
‘That day he did absolutely everything,’ Santos told Sportsmail. ‘He won a penalty, he took the penalty, and when it was saved he ran to pick the ball up before sprinting across to take the subsequent corner. He was hyperactive. We knew we had to have him.’
Santos asked Ceballos’ team, Utrera, if he could come for a trial. The next battle was to make sure Real Madrid and Barcelona didn’t steal him away.
‘We weren’t able to play the game at our own training ground and we were picking players for the following season so there was lots of talent on display. Real Madrid and Barcelona were watching.
‘We took Dani off before the break. The decision was made. We didn’t need to see any more.
‘I spoke to him after the match and he was with one of his team-mates. He said: “I’ll get going because you obviously don’t want me”.
Ceballos stood out for the Real Betis scouts and he's never been short of self confidence
‘He thought because we’d taken him off we weren’t interested. I had to tell him: “No, we want you. We just didn’t want anyone else to see you!”’
Ceballos wasn’t short of self confidence as a teenager. He had a famous sports brand’s trademark swoosh shaved into the side of his head and was nicknamed 'Dani Nike' because of it.
In one of his first contract negotiations he asked for the number 10 shirt, as worn by his idol Ronaldinho, to be part of his new deal.
But Santos’ story highlights some self doubt too. He’d been released by Sevilla as a 13-year-old after five years at the club. He had sensed a second chance had also been lost in that trial match.
Ceballos did sign for Betis, earning around 60 euros a month at first just to cover travelling expenses. Within a year he was making his first team debut.
If not for Santos spotting him, life might have not taken him much further than Utrera, the Andalusian heartland municipality famous for Flamenco, the Spanish fighting bull ‘Toro Bravo’ and another former Arsenal player Jose Antonio Reyes.
But he was in the big time now. His Betis supporting parents who owned a ‘churros’ stand from where they sold the traditional sugary, doughy, deep-fried snack were the proudest in Andalusia.
Ceballos’ former managers talk about him being a ‘special’ kid from a humble background and one who without academy football during those formative years still had the soul of a street player.
The electric blonde hair and combative style was something Betis fans came to appreciate
The word 'anarchic' crops up a lot when speaking to his former coaches.
Pepe Mel built his second division promotion winning Betis team around the 18-year-old Ceballos in the 2014-15 season.
Gus Poyet would manage him