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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Delgado brings Spanish flair to Badgers

Pablo Delgado: Senior midfielder Pablo Delgado has enjoyed the transition from the technical style of soccer in Spain to a more physical one here.

Delgado brings Spanish flair to Badgers

Wisconsin senior midfielder Pablo Delgado is certainly not the only Real Madrid fan here on campus. Replica jerseys of the Spanish super-team can be spotted on the backs of students during any given time. Many of them even bear the name of Delgado's favorite player, Brazilian midfielder Kaka.

However, there is one detail that separates Delgado from most, if not all, of the Real fans in Madison. He grew up two blocks from the club's stadium, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, in the heart of Madrid. 

The soccer atmosphere in Spain trumps the football atmosphere in the U.S., and Delgado, like so many other kids in Madrid, had dreams of playing professionally. He played on club teams that won tournaments and national championships. He had the chance to play in the COTIF International Tournament twice.

However, professional teams start scouting kids at very young ages, which means that playing high-level soccer, even for a teenager, can become a full-time commitment. Achieving a balance between school and sport is nearly impossible, but Delgado was not ready to give up either.

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""In Spain, you either play soccer or you study, you cannot do both at the same time,"" Delgado said. ""I realized that I needed to get a degree, so when I saw that you could do both here I thought it would be a great idea."" 

Naturally, the transition from Spain to the United States took some time, especially on the soccer field. Delgado, who grew up playing a wide-open, technical style of soccer, took a redshirt his first year on campus to prepare for the physicality of Big Ten play. While many prefer to watch the grace and style the Europeans play the game with, Delgado still appreciates what the American version of the game has taught him. 

""I have gotten much better here, especially my defensive game,"" Delgado said. ""Here, you cannot take a break, that is not the case in Madrid."" 

As a redshirt freshman, Delgado appeared in all 19 contests for the Badgers, and garnered Big Ten All-Freshman team honors. Last year, as a junior, Delgado led Wisconsin in assists, tallying four on the year. So far in his career, Delgado has registered five goals and six assists for a total of 16 points.

This year, he takes a large number of the Badgers' set piece shots and serves as a creative playmaker for the offense. 

""Pablo is a difference maker for us,"" Wisconsin head coach Todd Yeagley said. ""He can make that final pass, he is sophisticated [with the ball, and] he can slot that threaded needle on the run."" 

Delgado does not have any specific post-graduation plans as of yet, but the business major would like to continue gaining experience in other cultures and possibly continue playing soccer. However, he thinks that the academic balance he originally sought in the U.S. will pay off for him as well. 

""The good thing about being here is that you get a degree from a really good school, so you have both options,"" Delgado said.

If his playing career at Wisconsin is any indication, this Madrid-kid-turned-Badger will find the best one and run with it.

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