Royston Drenthe: ‘People kept calling and then the animal inside comes back’

The Dutchman, now 33 and at a lower league club in Spain, discusses Real Madrid, arguing with David Moyes and more

Royston Drenthe’s not happy. It’s a little after 6pm and the sun is dropping behind the hill overlooking a small, unremarkable municipal football ground on the edge of a small unremarkable town in south-east Spain when he turns to the one teammate still warming up with him and asks how long’s left. “I don’t know,” Marlon Sánchez says, “five?” He’s been there half an hour stretching, watching the light fade and the game fade with it. Joaquín Parra has gone on, Carlos Álvarez has gone on but he won’t.

This story should close with the home team employing their not-so-secret weapon, the galáctico sent on to score the winner. Instead, it ends with him leaning against an advertising board for a local butcher and a nearby metalworks, looking across a plastic pitch with multiple markings where the game goes on without him. It’s 0-0, non-league, but the call still doesn’t come. When the final whistle does, Drenthe slips silently away: first off, first out. The man who played for Real Madrid doesn’t play for Racing Murcia, not today.

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