Arbeloa - Madrid in my past
Reds utility man given little chance to shine at Madrid
By Rob Carragher. Last Updated: 24/02/09 5:25pm
Arbeloa: Likely to start against Real
Liverpool full-back Alvaro Arbeloa insists that he has no regrets about his time at Real Madrid, as he prepares to face his former club in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
Arbeloa joined the Real Madrid youth ranks at the age of 16, working his way through the Madrid C team and 'Castilla' reserve side, before departing the club in 2006 with just a handful of first team appearances under his belt.
Far more fruitful spells with Deportivo La Coruna and Liverpool have since followed, but the versatile defender is adamant that he still looks back at his Real Madrid career with fondness.
"It was difficult for me to play in Madrid," Arbeloa told LFC Magazine.
"So I had no other option but to move on. Even so, I had a great time there and I wouldn't say I was disappointed in the way my Madrid career ended."
Arbeloa was a product of the well-renowned youth set-up that has nurtured current first-team stars such as Iker Casillas, Guti and Raul.
But with the shadow of the 'Galactico' era still hanging over the Bernabeu, the club's hierarchy has been accused of hindering youth progression by favouring bought-in talent - a factor that Arbeloa believes contributed to his eventual exit.
"Only two players from the Castilla team that I played for managed to make any kind of impression in the first team," he added.
"They were Francisco Pavon and Alvaro Mejia and they have since left as well.
"I stayed there for another 18 months but in the end there was no option for me but to leave."
Three years have now passed since Arbeloa's exit from Madrid, and although the defender admits that ties will undoubtedly remain between him and the club, he is sure that it will be purely Liverpool on his mind on Wednesday.
He added: "It will be strange playing against Real. But the team and management has changed a lot since I was there, so there is no sentiment. We go there to win."