George Lucas: The former Villarreal prospect on his time in Bulgaria

George Lucas isn’t just an English player abroad but also an English person abroad. He was just seven-years-old when his family left High Wycombe for a small village in the province of Valencia. It’s now been 14 years since he left the UK and the move abroad has shaped his as much as a person as it has as a player.

“My parents made the decision to move to Spain for a better life for me and my two brothers,” says Lucas. “We moved to a little village called Potríes and it was a great decision, I would be out all afternoon after school just playing football with friends, it was great.”

The village of Potríes had a population of under a thousand on the arrival of the Lucas family and had no local football team. However, this would not prevent their sons from taking up the sport as Lucas would join would join the club of nearby village La Font.

His progression from there was significant. After four years at La Font, he joined CF Gandia whose men’s side played in the seventh tier of Spanish football. That was a step up in itself but after three seasons La Liga giants Villarreal came knocking and at the age of 14, the defender was on the books of one of the country’s most famous sides.

“I went on to play for them [Villarreal] for five years and it was an amazing experience,” he says.”I learnt so much and I trained with the first team a few times as well.

“Villarreal has a fantastic youth system with talented footballers from all over the world and I’m just grateful and proud of myself that I spent five years with this club.”

After his spell at the Yellow Submarine came to an end, Lucas dropped into the fifth tier of Spanish football but it would not be long until he was on the move again.

“I was playing in [the equivalent] of the Conference in Spain and an agent got in contact with me and explained that there was a second division club in Bulgaria that had seen videos of me playing for Villarreal and wanted  to offer me a professional contract.

“I saw that there was three Brazilian players, one French and a Bulgarian player that had played for Crystal Palace (Ilia Djamov played for the Eagles’ under-18 side) so this helped me make the decision to sign as well.”

The club Lucas would join was FC Oborishte, a team who won promotion to the second tier for the first time ever in 2015. The young defender was identified as the man to help them secure their Second Division again going into the 2017/18 season.

Playing at centre-back, the former Villarreal man would have an instant impact at his new team. In just his third match, his side took on Bulgarian giants and Champions League regulars Ludogorets. Despite being a division below their illustrious opponents, they managed to take them to extra time, narrowly losing 3-2. It was a great effort from Oborishte, made even better by the fact the English defender scored his first ever professional goal in the match.

He would go on to make 16 league appearances for the Bulgarian side as they would be relegated on the final day by just three points. Despite relegation, it was still a season of great development for the 21-year-old.

“It was complicated in some aspects but a great experience for me and really made me stronger mentally. Most of the players knew a bit of English so that helped a lot but I still managed to learn a bit of Bulgarian because I think they would appreciate that and they did.

“The players there weren’t as technical as in Spain or England but the physicality was up there due to the hard training we would do, like running up the mountains in the snow with a weighted vest for couple of hours!”

Lucas (in green) playing for Oborishte

After his year in Bulgaria, the High Wycombe native returned to Spain to sign for Silla CF, who play in the fourth tier, known as the Tercera Division. After nine games, Silla sit third bottom with six points but Lucas, who has made three appearances so far this season, is still happy to have made the move back.

“I believe my style of play really suits Spanish football and combined with the physicality and mental strength that I gained from Bulgaria, I just think this was the best decision to make as I’m still only 21-years-old.”

There’s still a long way to go in the season and an even longer way to go in the career of this left back and he is looking forward to see what lies ahead.

“My ambitions are to play at the highest level possible so if that’s in Spain, England or any other country, I will be grateful and ready for the challenge.”


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