Back in 2005, when a six-year-old by the name of Brahim Diaz joined his local team, CD Tiro Pichón, it was clear he was a special talent, says the club's president, Juan Oñate.
"He was different from the rest. Despite his short stature, he was an incredible player, his playing style was spectacular," reflects Oñate, who early on tipped the youngster to join Real Madrid one day.
And his prediction came true on 6 January of this year when Diaz signed for Los Blancos on six-year deal from Manchester City.
The Malaga native made his debut for the 13-time European champions three days later, coming on as a substitute in a 3–0 victory over Leganes in the Copa del Rey.
But long before putting on the famous white shirt, Diaz continued his development with another local club, UD Mortadelo.
Malaga has long been a hotbed of soccer talent, and UD Mortadelo has helped mould its fair share of elite players over the years, as club secretary Juan Navarrete explains: "In addition to having coached Brahim, we also had other players like Samu Castillejo (AC Milan) at our club.
"We are very proud that players of such quality have been part of our club."
News of Diaz' ability started to do the rounds in the Andalusian city, and it didn't take long before then Spanish top-flight side Malaga came calling.
Diaz spent three years with the Boquerones' youth ranks, where he continued to impress.
"As player you could tell he had a lot of quality, he could shoot with both feet and had great dribbling skills," says former teammate and Malaga reserve team forward Ruben Sanchidrian.
During his time with Malaga, another future Real Madrid star was making headlines with the club's first team: Isco Alcorcon.
Diaz got to watch his future teammate from the sidelines of La Rosaleda, where he occasionally played the role of ballboy.
2012: Ball-boy Brahim Diaz watches Isco celebrate his goal at Malaga.— Ryan. (@Rygista) March 31, 2019
2019: Brahim Diaz assists Isco’s goal at the Bernabéu. pic.twitter.com/8mCkobVJQY
Before Diaz had a chance to break into the club's senior squad though, a number of big European clubs, including Barcelona, had started to make offers to sign him.
Eventually, it was Premier League giants Manchester City who swooped in for the burgeoning midfielder.
"Malaga paid him a salary and provided him with a house, but City offered him a deal that our club couldn’t match," recalls Malaga's club counselor, Abdallah Ben Barek.
Still only 19-years-old, Diaz is by no means the finished article, and as many elite players before him have discovered, ability only gets you so far at Real Madrid.
But the signs so far have been positive.
Diaz impressed on his first La Liga start last weekend in a 3-2 win over Huesca, and drew applause from the Bernabeu faithful when he came off in the 64th minute.
He made his mark in that game by providing the assist for Madrid's opening goal, which fittingly was tapped in by his one-time idol Isco.