Nacho's one-club career a shining example for Real Madrid's academy

You could feasibly spend an entire week in Madrid searching for someone sporting a Real replica shirt bearing "Nacho" on the back without success. Equally, if a kid were to walk the approach to the Bernabeu in one it would doubtless elicit a grunt of approval from a veteran socio making the same familiar pilgrimage.

Nacho has become a trusted lieutenant under Zinedine Zidane. Before the Frenchman's appointment in January 2016, he had never played six Liga games in a row. Last season alone, he did so three times. He struggled for prominence under Jose Mourinho -- who handed him nine Liga outings in three years spent between Castilla and the first-team squad -- Carlo Ancelotti and to a lesser extent Rafa Benitez, who gave him more than double the number of Liga starts in his half season in charge than the Italian did in the whole of his two campaigns in Madrid.

Last season was Nacho's most active to date: 24 Liga starts and three in Europe as Real completed the double. This season Nacho is on course to better his 3,197 minutes in 2016-17 with 2,347 under his belt already, including five starts in the Champions League and 13 in La Liga.

A handful of words sum up the defender's 17-year career at Madrid: adaptable, dependable, uncomplaining, unpretentious. Not once has Nacho rocked the boat about his position in the pecking order, other than a brief and understandable aside when interest from Roma crystallised ahead of the January 2017 transfer window: "I won't always be playing 15 games a season; I aspire to more than that."

Whatever pressure Zidane is currently under, his faith in Nacho has paid dividends far beyond the former youth teamer's reported €70,000 weekly wage, one of the lowest in the squad. The Spain international has doubled his total of career goals for the club this season to six. Last weekend against Deportivo La Coruna, he bagged a brace, capping an excellent performance with a goal-line clearance.

Nacho is not the perfect defender. He is prone to the occasional lapse, but who among Real's back four isn't? His appeal to Zidane lies in his incredible versatility. Starting out as a box-to-box midfielder at local Madrid side Complutense Alcala, Nacho is able to fill in across the back line and is pretty decent going forward from full-back, as well. Incredibly for a player who celebrated his 28th birthday a week ago, Nacho has never been unavailable because of injury, a huge asset at a club where the physios are not under-employed.

Nacho is often described in the Spanish media as Real Madrid's Swiss army knife -- the sort of thing you have lying around and don't realise you need until you really, really do.

That does him a bit of a disservice; he can play a bit. His two goals against Depor were taken with a striker's instinct, and that hit against Cultural in last season's Copa del Rey led Zidane to describe it as "better than my Champions League final goal in 2002."

For purists at the Bernabeu, and there are many, he is also the sole true canterano among the first-team regulars, having spent his entire career at the Bernabeu without ever going out on loan. Furthermore, Nacho is next in line behind Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema for the permanent captaincy. Real operate a first-in policy with the armband but Nacho's elevation would be a hugely popular one.

A childhood Madrid fan, Nacho embodies the spirit of hard work and dedication to his craft that goes down well at the Bernabeu after battling to overcome medical issues as a youth-teamer to rise up the ranks. A genuine desire to end his career where it started only adds to his standing. Nacho is a player socios can relate to; he is one of them, with the same dreams and desires.

When Real fans unfurled a banner demanding their players "sweat for the shirt" during a 7-1 drubbing of Celta in the Bernabeu in March 2016 after a derby loss at Atletico, Nacho will have been well down the list of intended targets. Few players have given Real's kit man more reason to deploy the expensive washing powder.

It is fitting that Nacho wears the No. 6 jersey at Madrid. Fernando Hierro, Manolo Sanchis and Vicente del Bosque, who was instrumental in stumbling upon Nacho as a 9-year-old, were among previous holders.

There will be no statue to Nacho's contribution, no stand named after him, not even the kind of honorary this-or-that the Bernabeu hierarchy like to dish out. When he calls it a day at Madrid, Nacho will probably be found coaching the under-12s, where it all began for him. A one-club man to the last and an example to academy players looking for a genuine 21st-century act to follow.