Sergi Roberto admits he “didn’t care about Madrid” when snubbing Real as a youngster in favour of linking up with Barcelona.
As a Catalan native, the versatile 27-year-old insists that Camp Nou was always his preferred destination.
He had the opportunity to head to the Spanish capital after impressing as a teenager, but was quickly drafted into the famed La Masia academy system and the rest is history.
A man who has gone on to make over 230 first-team appearances for Barcelona while earning five senior caps for his country, told Sport of the decision he faced as a youngster: “I was playing for Nastic's U15 team.
“The director of Madrid's academy got in contact with the club to show interest and invite me for a trial. A few days later, Barca reacted and also sent a fax to Nastic.
“At that moment, I didn't care about Madrid.
“The truth is, even though it may seem the opposite, I felt really calm at that time.
“I went for a trial at Barca, it went well, they told me to stay and that was that. Everything else has been forgotten. I've been a Barca fan since I was a kid and I didn't think much about it.”
Sergi is now an established part of the set-up at Camp Nou, with Ernesto Valverde the latest manager to pick him on a regular basis.
A Liga title-winning coach has committed to another year in his current post, but it remains to be seen if the 55-year-old will extend his stay past 2020.
“The coaches decide,” Sergi said of the regular changes in the dugout.
“In recent years, they've managed three or four years because there's a lot of pressure at Barca.
“Every three days there's a game, it takes its toll. It depends on each person... And if you don't win titles, fans immediately want another coach.
“We're really happy with Valverde. He's renewed for another year and we're all satisfied that he's staying with us for another season. It's a really good sign.”
Barca, who hold an eight-point lead at the top of the Liga table, will be back in action on Saturday against second-placed Atletico Madrid before then switching their attention to the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final clash with Manchester United.