It was April 2008 and things were not going well for Gonzalo Higuaín. He was having a terrible game at the Santiago Bernabéu, missing chance after chance and seemingly getting more apprehensive with each opportunity. But then another cross came in and this time he dived in to score. Up in the east stand of the Bernabéu, Real Madrid's stadium announcer prepared to tell the fans all about it.
"Higuaín scores," he shouted gleefully, leaving a pause "... at long last!"
At the end of last season, it was hard to imagine those words not going round Higuaín's head when he admitted that he wanted to leave Madrid, possibly in a £23m move to Arsenal. "No one has gifted me anything. I have had to fight for everything," he said. "I want to go somewhere where they really want me."
Higuaín's time at Madrid has been successful. He has won three league championships and scored 107 league goals at better than a goal every other game. In 2007-08, he scored the goal that clinched the title. At the end of the 2011-2012 season, in which Madrid had reached a record 100 points, celebrating fans and players chanted: "Higuaín, stay! Higuaín, stay!" and José Mourinho persuaded him to continue when it seemed his mind was made up. And yet somewhere, lurking in the back of his mind, there has always been a doubt, a sense that some important people were not convinced and never would be.
When Higuaín arrived in the winter of 2006-07, some team-mates ironically dubbed him Igualín – roughly, Samey – because he was just like Ronaldo. He did not always take his chances and the goals didn't flow. He got two in 19 in that first half-season, eight in 25 the following year.
But he was still young: he had arrived at 20, crossing the Atlantic from Argentina having only played 31 games. And when he did get goals they were important ones. Then, he took off: in 2008-09, he scored 22 in 34 and in 2009-2010, 27 in 32, more than the star signing, Cristiano Ronaldo.
That should have been reason to celebrate, but it felt almost like he had done something wrong. He was running at just over a goal every 100 minutes but still there were criticisms. Missed chances were pounced on; when he hit the post against Lyon in the Champions League in 2010, he was blamed for Madrid's exit.
Similar accusations were rarely aimed at other players and it was hard to avoid the conclusion that there was something political in it. Higuaín had been signed by Ramón Calderón, not the new president Florentino Pérez, and his inclusion barred the way to Karim Benzema, the apple of Pérez's eye.
There was what can best be described as anti-Higuaín lobby. At times, the attacks could be astonishingly bitter; playing well, scoring goals, only seemed to make them more annoyed. He just kept on scoring.
Then, in Mourinho's first season, a back injury ruled him out on the morning of the clásico; he finished the campaign having played just 17 matches. He had scored 10 times, all of them prior to that game. He returned in time for the Champions League semi-finals but was not fully fit and played less than an hour across the two legs. As Madrid won the league the following year, he got 22 goals in 35 games, and last season scored 16 in 28, as Mourinho tended to alternate between him and Benzema depending on how he approached games: Benzema is more technical, Higuaín more tenacious.
By then, it felt like Mourinho was not entirely sure about either and the policy may have been counterproductive. The Frenchman usually played the biggest games and the doubts from some quarters about the Argentinian never fully went away.
The fact he scored 20 goals in 30 games at international level made little impact. Higuaín's critics pointed at his Champions League record: one in nine, three in 12, two in six, over the past three seasons. They pointed at the chances not taken again when Madrid were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund this season, in part because they could, in part through inertia, in part because they were waiting for him. Little was said about chances which Mesut Ozil and Ronaldo failed to take.
Higuaín is a quick, clever striker with the presence and persistence to play in the Premier League. He closes defenders down, peels off to the wing and creates space and opportunities for others. He is adept at pulling diagonally away from the defender to receive in the area or quietly dropping off into the space behind them, running horizontally across the line before stepping beyond, where his finishing is varied and usually clean, especially when it is instinctive. So often it is his goal that provides the breakthrough, too: the opener or the winner. His contribution is consistent, regular, not inflated by gluts.
Higuaín has had his defenders too and the criticism never sank him; he has proved to be tough and remarkably resistant. But in the end he tired of swimming against the tide.