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Marvin Park: From Tranmere Rovers to Real Madrid to dazzling with Las Palmas

Born in Palma de Mallorca to a Nigerian father and a South Korean mother, UD Las Palmas prodigy Marvin Olawale Akinlabi Park has one of the most interesting stories in LALIGA EA SPORTS. Initially unimpressed by the sport of football, back when he was kicking the ball around on the streets of Palma with his brother at a young age, Marvin gradually grew to love the game.

The early years

Marvin joined local club Sporting Ciutat de Palma at the age of six, but his parents decided to move to England three years later. Aged nine, Marvin joined the academy of the then-National League club Tranmere Rovers, where he stayed for three years. The youngster attracted interest from various Premier League powerhouses, but his father was confident that his son would have more chances to pursue a career as a professional footballer if they moved back to Spain.

And that's exactly what the family did, returning to Palma, where Marvin would sign for AD Penya Arrabal in 2014. “He didn't talk at all," Xisca Coll, delegate of AD Penya Arrabal, told El País. “He was super shy. He didn't talk to me or to the kids."

It took LALIGA EA SPORTS clubs no time to spot his talent and Real Madrid were the ones to acquire his services. Los Blancos brought the youngster to the Spanish capital, where he joined the club's Juvenil C side under Álvaro Benito. Marvin initially felt homesick, but his coach and teammates helped him to adapt to his new environment. “He's the fastest player I've ever seen in my life," Benito claimed. “He has the feet of a sprinter."


Standing out at La Fábrica

Marvin worked his way up the ranks into Real Madrid Castilla, while he celebrated UEFA Youth League success under coach Raúl González in 2019/20. The talented winger started in six games, including the final against Benfica, where he recorded an assist for Real Madrid's third goal in a 3-2 triumph. Having registered three assists and a goal in seven UEFA Youth League matches, as well as three goals and one assist in the league with Real Madrid Castilla, he caught the eye of Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane.

In the summer of 2020, Real Madrid undertook their pre-season preparations at their training ground in Valdebebas, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Zidane, who had lifted the Euro 2000 trophy with France just one day before Marvin was born, called up the youngster to participate in first-team training. In September 2020, Zidane handed Marvin his official debut with Real Madrid in a 0-0 draw away at Real Sociedad. The winger would go on to make another three appearances for the first team before joining UD Las Palmas on loan in the summer of 2022.

Marvin Park's LALIGA EA SPORTS experience

Boasting outstanding agility and pace, Marvin can feature as a right winger, as well as a right-back or a wing-back depending on the team's formation. His versatility and ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch have allowed coach García Pimienta to use him in different positions in his two years at the club.

Injuries didn't allow him to find consistency in his first season, but García Pimienta didn't hesitate to hail the youngster's development. “Marvin Park's misfortune is the injuries he has had, which have stopped him [from finding consistency]," the coach said last February. “He is 22 years old and should be a very important player. He has taken a step forward by coming to UD Las Palmas. He has shown his level, little by little getting in shape."

Marvin ended the 2022/23 campaign with 24 appearances in LALIGA HYPERMOTION, contributing to his team's efforts to clinch promotion to the top flight. UD Las Palmas decided to extend his loan deal for a second term and Marvin has already featured in 16 of his team's 21 league games this season. He has started in five matches, including a major 2-1 home victory over Atlético de Madrid in November.

Usually coming off the bench to provide his team with a boost of energy in the second half, Marvin is gradually earning more minutes on the pitch. Following their 2-0 victory away at Rayo Vallecano on Matchday 21, Los Amarillos are rightfully dreaming of European qualification for next season.

Meanwhile, the future seems bright for the winger, who accepted a call-up from Spain's U19 side in 2019. Yet, having featured in just one game for the Spanish youth side, Marvin is still eligible to represent either Nigeria or South Korea due to his parents' descent. Given his talent and development over the last few years, it will come as no surprise to anyone if all three national teams re-engage in a tug of war to have this talented player representing them.

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