Grabbing the limelight in a star-studded outfit like Barcelona is no easy task, especially when you are only 22 and have only just emerged from the club’s famed youth set-up. Yet, that is exactly what Pedro Rodriguez Ledesma, better known as Pedro, did when he slotted his side’s final goal in their 3-1 UAE 2009 semi-final defeat of Atlante.
In slamming the ball past Iron Colts keeper Federico Vilar, Pedro became the first player in the history of the game to score goals in six different competitions in a single calendar year. “It’s a great honour and I’m thrilled about it,” he said in an exclusive chat with FIFA.com. “I’d like to thank and congratulate all my team-mates, though. I could never have achieved it without them.”
One of those team-mates is Andres Iniesta, who set up Pedro’s historic strike with a superb run and through-ball. And all that remains to be seen now is whether the youngster’s latest scoring trick will help Barça land an unprecedented sixth title in a stunningly successful 2009.
Born and bred in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Pedro was playing for local CD San Isidro when he made the move to Barcelona at the age of 17. He quickly came under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola, his coach in the B team that won the Tercera Division (the Spanish fourth tier) crown in 2008.
It was in January that year that first-team coach Frank Rijkaard handed the young forward his league debut against Murcia. And with the departure of the Dutchman at the end of the league campaign and Guardiola’s appointment as his successor, Pedro would enjoy several more opportunities over the course of last season.
His record-breaking run began in August when he scored the winner in a 2-1 triumph in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic Bilbao. Another Super Cup goal followed at the end of the month, this time in the UEFA version against Shakhtar Donetsk in Monaco, Pedro’s extra-time winner giving Barcelona their fifth trophy of the year.
Goal number three came in the 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat of Dinamo Kiev in late September, with the fourth and fifth strikes of his stunning sextet coming the following month, against Almeria in La Liga and third-tier Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey.
That feat put him level with former Barça striker Giovanni, who bagged goals in five different competitions in 1997/98, and with team-mate Lionel Messi, who emulated the Brazilian’s achievement last term. With his classy finish against the Mexicans, however, Pedro would leave them both standing.
Although the Spanish and European champions fell behind to an early goal against Atlante, as Pedro explains they managed to keep their legendary cool. “You always feel at ease with this team, and as soon as we start getting into our rhythm you get this feeling that we can turn things around. We saw a lot of the ball in the second half and created several chances. I think we deserved the win.”
“They are the best players in the world here and it’s so easy to play with them,” he continues, deflecting attention once more to his illustrious colleagues. “It’s a privilege for someone as young as me to be able to share the pitch with international stars of their stature.”
Having achieved his personal record, Pedro is now anxious to do his bit to help the Catalans collect the one trophy they have never got their hands on. To do that, though, they have to see off Copa Libertadores holders Estudiantes in Saturday’s final. “They're a good side, with just a little more experience than Atlante,” he explains with a hint of caution in his voice. “It won’t be easy and we’ll need to be patient. From what we’ve seen of them it could be a really entertaining match and we are looking forward to it very much. I just hope we can get the win and bring back the one trophy the club has never won.”