“You get one chance, and you’re going to get it.”
With these words, Xavi sent on 17-year-old substitute Marc Guin for his first game against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night in Barcelona.
Xavi’s side went into the match with several key players injured: Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Conde, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto were all missing. Lamin Yamal and Alejandro Balde are only allowed to play on matchday. There were several youth team players on the bench that few fans had heard of.
One of them was Guiu. Less than 10 minutes left for the home side to score. All he needed was 23 seconds.
Guyu came on as a substitute for Fermin López in the front line and quickly ran into his position. Barça had the ball at the back and Enigo Martinez brought it forward. He passed to João Félix, who carried the team for most of the night.
As soon as Joao Felix took possession, Giu ran on, his fresh legs immediately finding space behind the Bilbao defence, and it took the youngster just two touches to find the net as the Portuguese found it. Control on the left, finish on the right. Unai Simon was finally beaten.
Guillaume ran wild, his arms outstretched to the sky, and all the Barça players – on the pitch and on the bench – rushed to join the madness. On the field, Xavi hugged the members of the coaching staff.
Lewandowski and De Jong were also celebrating on the podium. In another part of the crowd, Giu’s mother grabbed her chair and began to cry and scream, another hand on her chest, “That’s crazy!” she shouted. Guiu’s father, with a wry smile on his face, stood to applaud his son.
When the referee blew the final whistle, Guillaume stepped onto the pitch, looking like he wanted to make a crucial connection with the real world. Between laughter and tears of joy he covered his face – yes this was really happening.
The television cameras went looking for him. He stood up and received a big hug from Lopez and the other youngsters on the bench – Ander Astralaga, Hector Forte and Unay Hernandez – who rushed to him after the game.
Guiu was looking at the stands, probably looking for his family and wanting to share the moment with them too. And while everyone is hailing him as a hero, he then rushes over to Inaki Williams to claim the shirt as a souvenir. Despite his defeat, Williams smiled and gave it to him.
“I can’t believe it, I’m out of breath,” Guyu said on TV, his cheeks still red from the energy. “I’m enjoying the season. This is unimaginable, but I have been working all my life to take advantage of opportunities and it has come to me.
“Inigo tells me I can’t sleep, but to be happy.”
Interviewed by David Villa on DAZN, Guy Villa showed his shyness by looking at the ground while speaking, before admitting, a little embarrassed, that he is one of his idols.
“La Masia works,” added the youngster. “Great work is being done and it should be used in difficult times for the club like now.”
👏 Congratulations Mark! You made history👏💙❤️#MadeinLaMasia pic.twitter.com/F3gFVui1w2
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) October 22, 2023
Guiu is a center forward from Barca’s youth academy. He joined when he was seven years old. Despite being a regular for Spain at various levels – he was top scorer at the Under-17 European Championship with Yamal this summer – he is not often touted as a first-team target.
But with hard work and growing confidence, he’s climbing the ladder to get to this moment. He is quick and powerful and good in the air. He plays for Barca’s under-17 ‘Juvenile A’ team and has been called up to Barcelona Athletics – Spain’s third-tier reserve team – but not regularly. The new sports director, Diko, is a big fan.
“The whole club should celebrate the goal,” Xavi said after Sunday’s 1-0 win. “It shows that we are doing well with the youth system.
“I can see the desire to play on the faces of these boys; they are never afraid like my generation. They look at me with interest, they tell me to play for them, they look at me with positivity.”
Gyu’s hunger blocked the points from the impressive game. Improvement is needed with Champions League games against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday and a home Clasico against Real Madrid on Saturday.
But as the team recovers from injury, an unexpected game-winner occurs and time is on his side to celebrate.
(Top photo: Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images)