History was made on Monday night in LaLiga SmartBank, as Rubén Castro climbed on to the podium of the greatest ever goalscorers in Spanish professional football.
Aged 41 years and 238 days, the Málaga CF forward opening and then closed the scoring in his side’s 3-0 win over Real Zaragoza, equalling and then overtaking the tally of league goals achieved by Real Sporting and FC Barcelona legend Quini.
By scoring his 284th and then 285th goals in the professional Spanish football leagues of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank, Castro became the top-scoring Spaniard in the history of these competitions. Now, the only two players who have more goals than he does are Lionel Messi, with 474, and Cristiano Ronaldo, with 311. That’s certainly not bad company to be in.
Speaking after achieving the record, Castro stated: “The team secured a win and I achieved the record I’d been looking for, so it was the perfect night. It was good to achieve this in front of the home fans, who had been waiting a long time to witness a win.
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On top of that, the two goals meant I reached and passed that milestone.”
Castro’s achievement was celebrated around the country, as he has worn the shirts of 10 different professional clubs over the 23 seasons of his journey, the longest-ever career in Spanish football.
The Canary Islander started out at local side UD Las Palmas, but also went on to play for RC Deportivo de La Coruña, Albacete Balompié, Real Racing Club de Santander, Gimnàstic de Tarragona, SD Huesca, Rayo Vallecano, Real Betis, FC Cartagena and now Málaga CF, scoring for all of them except Real Racing Club, where he made just one appearance.
It was at Real Betis that Castro enjoyed his greatest successes, playing for Los Verdiblancos from 2010 to 2018 and scoring the goals that fired them to important promotions in 2010/11 and 2014/15.
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He became a legend while wearing green and white and, when he departed the Estadio Benito Villamarín for good in 2018, he’d become their all-time top scorer. In 260 league appearances for Real Betis, Castro found the back of the net 135 times.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about Castro’s career is his longevity. Currently in a record 23rd season, he is still one of the most lethal finishers in LaLiga SmartBank, as he also proved last year when his 20 goals for FC Cartagena made him the league’s fourth-top scorer. In the history of Spanish league football, no player had scored goals over the age of 41 until Castro this season, who has seven since his 41st birthday.
He’s surely not done yet and could achieve another record before the 2022/23 season is finished. With his two goals on Monday night, Castro moved on to 192 goals in Spain’s second division, with the other 93 having come at LaLiga Santander level.
This means he is now just two goals away from Elche CF legend Nino’s LaLiga SmartBank record of 194 goals.
For Castro, his priority right now isn’t records, it’s saving Málaga CF from relegation. But, he might be able to achieve another historic record over the next few weeks and months as he looks to fire Los Boquerones away from the drop zone.