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The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): O is for Oviedo. Real Oviedo, Part 2 (31st December, 2017)

From part 1:

While Iván Iglesias only spent four seasons at Real Oviedo, Russian defender Viktor Onopko played seven seasons at the club and enjoys the exalted position of having played the most times for the club for a non-Spaniard - in second place is Nikola Jerkan, and ironically Viktor was the player who was signed to replaced him.

Born in modern-day Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), Viktor graduated from Zorya Luhansk. He started his professional career at Shakhtar Donetsk when he was only 16 years old, in 1986 - being signed from local club Stakhanov. He would play there for two seasons, after which he would join military service - playing for Dynamo Kiev. In 1990, he was back at Shakhtar, where impressive performances facilitated a move to Spartak Moscow in 1992.

His position in the field was at the center of the defense, however at Spartak he found his footing as a libero - even sometimes playing as an offensive midfielder. Pretty soon, he became the captain of the team,…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): O is for Oviedo. Real Oviedo, Part 1 (30th December, 2017)

Four signings in four seasons.

Between 2000 and 2003, four players traveled from the capital of Asturias to the capital of Spain. They affected the club in many different ways - some stayed for just one season, others for more - but each became an integral part of the team.

Here are those four signings.

In part 1 and 2, we look at two Oviedo mainstays who left for Madrid in 2000 and 2002. In part 3, we will examine a double signing, which happened at the heart of Real Oviedo's economic crisis in 2003.


He crossed the divide.

The Gijón native who have risen through the ranks of Sporting, played for the club, been bought by Barcelona and returned to Sporting once again, took a step that very few have the courage to do.

He crossed the divide. He signed for Real Oviedo, and endured the wrath of the Sporting fan-base.

It wasn't that this was a signing. This was the signing. The signing that broke a non-aggression pact between both Asturian teams.

Midfielder Iván Iglesias started playin…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): N is for Nieto and Nacho (29th December, 2017)

The two signings of Francisco Nieto and Nacho Martínez have nothing in common. The former was signed by Rayo in 1970 and the latter in 2012. The former is a left winger and the latter a left-back. The former was born in Baza, in Andalusia and the latter was born in Madrid.

The only common feature is that both players are 175 cm tall.

But they are both examples of how a signing from the depths of the Spanish footballing pyramid can pay immediate dividends.

La Masia, like any other academy, is a wilderness. The journey to the end is elusive. Competition is fierce. And survival is almost impossible.

Almost - there is a road that many choose to take. The back door.

Francisco Nieto almost didn't have to make that choice. After playing for Súria, he signed for Barcelona's youth academy in 1964. He would play there until 1970, rising through the ranks and playing for the juvenil team till 1967, before playing for various feeder clubs - the Barcelona Amateur side (1967-68), Atlético Cata…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): M is for Mérida (28th December, 2017)

Five years apart, two defenders made the journey from Mérida to Madrid, from the capital of Extremadura to the capital of España.

Here are their stories.

It's a national record - a record of how unlucky a player can be.

Ramón de Quintana, a center-back, holds the record for the most number of relegations as a player. Eight, to be exact - and one of them wasn't even a sporting relegation.

It's a painful reminder of the player and his legacy - a calm, composed, tall, strong center-back who stood calm, composed, tall and strong through numerous team disappointments.

The Girona native graduated from Damm and made his first team debut with Figueres in the Segunda in 1991. In 1992, the team came 3rd - a record high for the club, qualifying for the promotion playoffs but losing to Cádiz. But it is there where the heroics end.

In 1993, Figueres went down on goal difference, tied with Eibar on head-to-head. Subsequently, Quintana went to La Liga club Osasuna, but was relegated again …

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): L is for Linares (27th December, 2017)

Linares coach Pedro Pablo Braojos once told him that he didn't have what it took to succeed in the Segunda B.

He would turn out to be right.




Mohamed Diamé was born in the Paris suburb of Créteil and he was selected to attend the Clairefontaine academy between 2000 and 2003. He would then move to Lens, beginning his professional career in 2005 with the club's reserves, but left two years later after facing health problems. He was told playing again would be risky.

But he took that risk - as well as the risk of playing in another country - by recovering and immediately signing for Segunda B side Linares in July 2007. He played 31 games for the club - starting just 14 of them - and clocked 1292 minutes. Linares coach Pedro Pablo Braojos once told him that he didn't have what it took to succeed in the division.

He would turn out to be right - Rayo Vallecano, a team not in the Segunda B but in the Segunda, saw a player with raw potential. A dynamic midfielder with a commanding p…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): L is for Leganés (26th December, 2017)

"It was an agreement between clubs. What happened was that I did not want to leave, I was very comfortable at Rayo; we were going to play in Europe and I wanted to stay in Vallecas. I identified with the club and I felt important inside. But they had already reached an agreement and I had to leave; The truth is that it was the saddest moment I had while at Rayo. "

-Carlos Llorens
It was a painful year for Atlético Madrid. The second top goalscorer in the league, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, belonged to the team second from bottom. Ranieri was dismissed after matchday 26 with the club in administration due to accumulated debts, Radomir Antić took over a squad that was already in a tailspin, sitting in 17th league spot and barely hovering above relegation zone.

The team fell into the relegation zone and never came back, they were eliminated from the UEFA Cup in the quarterfinals by Lens, and Antić was fired after matchday 37 after Atlético was already mathematically relegated - th…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): K is for Kazan. Rubin Kazan (25th December, 2017)

It was the 2011-12 winter transfer window, and turmoil in Rayo's finances meant creativity. They had loaned Jordi Figueras for the whole season but Club Brugge wanted to buy him outright from Rubin - and so Rayo stalled his loan return till the end of the window so that he could play an extra four games. He eventually left after two, though.

This story always makes me laugh - not just because Jordi Figueras is a fine central defender, but because Rayo were essentially acting like a hoarder.

That is not to say that it wasn't without reason: in that same transfer window they brought in Joel, Diego Costa, Emiliano Armenteros and Jorge Pulido on loan - players whose wages were paid for by the clubs that owned them. And finances were so grim that at one point when Rayo traveled to play Real Sociedad they went by bus, and it took much longer than the usual five hours because the driver had been told to stay off toll roads. In fact, when right midfielder Néstor Susaeta and striker K…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): J is for Jaén. Real Jaén (24th December, 2017)

Speculation is a fool's game.

On the 24th of June, 2014, three players were presented at the Estadio de Vallekas. A signing from Real Madrid in the first division, a signing from Mallorca in the second, and a signing from Real Jaén in the third. Jozabed was the last of those three in order of reputation. Maybe in order of former club prestige too.

But there was no doubt among fans of the La Liga club that Jozabed was the last in order of ability.

Two seasons later, Jozabed became Rayo's cash cow, leaving for four million euros to Fulham despite being relegated.

A 24-year-old Sevilla graduate from Mairena del Alcor, Jozabed finished his formation in Sevilla's youth ranks, and made his senior debuts in 2010-11 with the C-team. He was promoted to the reserves (Sevilla Atlético) in the summer of 2012, in the Segunda B.

However, seeing no opportunities to break into first team football, Jozabed rescinded his contract and joined second-tier Ponferradina in February 2013, leading…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): I is for Iriney Santos (23rd December, 2017)

Ball-winning, combative midfielders have become something of a thing on this blog. And Iriney is no different - robust in his challenges, yet technically sound.

Signings from foreign clubs seem to always be suspicious - but we often forget the back-story and the desire of players to succeed in a foreign country and dismiss it as opportunism.

Clearly, that can't be said of Iriney. 21-year-old midfielder Iriney moved to Rayo Vallecano from São Caetano - where he made his senior debut - and joined the club while in La Liga in January 2003. The club was relegated at the end of the season, but Iriney stayed on - he would go on, like many others, to stay at the club and remained an undisputed starter.

However, the club went through a second successive relegation - and was plunged into the hell-hole that is the Segunda B. Almost the entire squad left the club. In fact, only four players stuck with the team from the first division to the third. Right-back Mario Gómez, center-back Diego Ma…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): H is for Hernández. Máximo Hernández (22nd December, 2017)

The ruthless marker, they called him.
He was a central defender not of size but of stature. He was a central defender who never stood tall but always stood out.
And it started at the age of 16, when Hernández began to stand out in football in the youth teams of Real Madrid. His time there coincided with Real Madrid legends such as Ramón Grosso and Manuel Velázquez, the latter of whom spent a year on loan at Rayo.
Máximo Hernández would leave Real Madrid's youth team for Rayo Vallecano in 1995, making his senior debut at the newly promoted Segunda side. He would play there for three seasons, and formed a solid partnership with Gregorio Benito in the last two - who was, coincidentally, on loan from (you guessed right) Real Madrid.
For the 1968-69 campaign, Celta Vigo were looking to strengthen their side, and wanted to achieve promotion to La Liga after 10 long years in the Segunda. Their first signing of the season was that of Máximo Hernández, from Rayo Vallecano. In what would …

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): G is for Gerhard Poschner (21st December, 2017)

There are many midfielders known for their ability to "clean up the mess", to defend with both heart and mind. There are many midfielders known for their ability to distribute the ball with authority, to create chances with ease, to keep the team ticking, to control the tempo and flow of the game.

There aren't many midfielders known for doing both. Gerhard Poschner was one of them.

Poschner was born in Dumitra, Romania - a country from which in 1974, at the age of five, his family fled to escape the communist regime and moved abroad to Bietigheim-Bissingen, West Germany. Poschner started playing football at the age of nine with SpVgg Bissingen. At 13, VfB Stuttgart spotted him playing at a talent scouting event organised by the Württemberg Football Association, and e began his professional career in 1987–88 with the club. He played three seasons with little impact in the first team (an average of 15 Bundesliga appearances) due to intense competition in his position - espe…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): F is for Fuenlabrada (20th December, 2017)

"2006: The curse of Fuenlabrada" is perhaps a more apt title. That summer, when a player changed clubs from Fuenlabrada to Rayo Vallecano, injuries followed him there too...


In June 2010, Rayo Vallecano were asked by a judge to pay Álvaro Zazo for breach of contract. After being removed from the team the previous summer, Zazo denounced the club. He was training with Córdoba at the time. The player, who sued for 600,000 euros, received two-thirds of the amount.

But now, Zazo is just as well known for being unemployed for long periods of time - on 15th March 2015, after nearly eight months without a club, he signed for Real Avilés in the Segunda B. And on 11th January 2017, following almost two years of inactivity, Zazo joined UD San Sebastián de los Reyes in the Segunda B as well.


"Trotamundos del fútbol de Segunda División B", they called him.

Born in Madrid, Zazo played in Real Madrid's cadete and juvenil teams, and finished his formation with local Las Rozas. H…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): E is for Espanyol (19th December, 2017)

This is the story of two signings, 14 years apart, of two very similar players.

Since I've already written about Raúl Baena before, I'm just going to put a link to the post - you can click here to read it. Nevertheless, without further ado, here is the story of Luis Cembranos.

7th October, 1995. Johan Cruyff must deal with the absence of Kodro, Hagi, Prosinečki, Popescu Bakero. Barcelona are travelling to Betis, and it is the only La Liga game of the day - all eyes are on it.

Those eyes then quickly turn - Diego Maradona rejoins the Boca Juniors squad after having been suspended for fifteen months. And even in Spain many focus on Jorge Valdano's Real Madrid who are struggling - and Atlético Madrid's Radomir Antić who calls club president Jesús Gil's dreams distant from reality.

But the eyes that remain go wild - Johan Cruyff has produced a revolutionary lineup. Eight new young players make their debut. Eight. And they tear Betis apart, in a performance that is stil…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): D is for David Aganzo (18th December, 2017)

Once again, smetimes a blog entry becomes less about the subject matter and how it came about.

This blog post was supposed to be titled D is for Deportivo Alavés. However, most people would only call it Alavés, and I felt like that was cheating.

By sheer coincidence, the first player I wrote about was David Aganzo.

Disaster averted?




David Aganzo was one of many players who directly confronted Martín Presa in 2011. He had not been paid for fourteen months, Rayo had just returned to La Liga, and he was being offered 70% less than promised.

He was blunt in his interviews, angry with his situation and left Vallekas, but his sporting achievements must not be overlooked. His physical problems and excessive temperament plagued him at Rayo but he still managed to score more goals per 90 minutes, and sometimes more goals overall, than any other player. In fact, out of 114 league games, he was eligible for just 64, with 50 games lost due to injuries and suspensions.

A Real Madrid graduate, David wou…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): C is for Celta de Vigo, Part 2 (17th December, 2017)

Continuing from part 1 yesterday...

However, after just two first team opportunities [at Barcelona], and a Jorge Valdano-influenced move to Real Madrid resulted in two dull seasons at Real Madrid Castilla left Roberto in serious doubts. Racing Vilalbés, his boyhood club, would take him back in a heartbeat.

But it was Numancia, in the Segunda, who saved what could have become a forgotten career. It was in Soria where he showed his ability to dictate games. Even though he played just 12 league games, his quality was clear.

From 2006-08 he played with Las Palmas. That summer he had offers from different foreign teams, but his desire to stay in Spanish soccer led him to the Canary Island club. His passing and service to strikers was well remembered, especially his connection with Marcos Márquez.

Las Palmas never tabled a renewal offer, and out of the many offers he received the chance to return to his native Galicia enticed him the most, and Balaídos was graced with the pass-master from 2…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): C is for Celta de Vigo, Part 1 (16th December, 2017)

Interestingly, Rayo's ultras, the Bukaneros chooses to side with Depor's Riazor Blues, rather than with Celta's Celtarras. And yet Celta is perhaps where we should look for inspiration, because of two signings that happened in the summer of 2011 - Michu and Roberto Trashorras.

Since I've already written about Michu before, I'm just going to put a link to the post - you can click here to read it. Nevertheless, without further ado....



Tic. Tic. Tic.

The beat of the metronome. Its sound is drowned by the cheering fans yet everyone sees it. And the man controlling the frequency feels it. Knows it. Understands it.

As the ball approaches him his eyes see the previous beat and his mind sees the next.

The ball arrives at his feet. For a split second - a second that is easily missed to the naked eye, every single player slows down. Time slows down. His eyes don't need to look around - the snapshots are firmly ingrained in his mind. He knows what to do.

And once he does, the …

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): B is for Barcelona (15th December, 2017)

There is a history of Barcelona rejects ending up on Rayo's doorstep. 

But it is history - the last time it happened was in 1997, when two Barcelona players - one young, one old - became Rayo legends...

Born in Asteasu, Gipuzkoa, Julen Lopetegui started his professional career at local Real Sociedad, where he was barred by legendary Luis Arconada. In 1985, he accepted an offer from Real Madrid, who immediately incorporated the 19-year-old to its B-team.

After a loan spell at Las Palmas (1988-89), Lopetegui returned, but could never dislodge another veteran, Francisco Buyo, only managing one La Liga appearance during two seasons, a 3-3 away draw against Atlético Madrid as Real was already crowned league champions. He subsequently signed with Logroñés, being instrumental as the modest Riojan club consistently managed to retain its top flight status.

Lopetegui's stellar performances at Logroñés earned him his sole cap with Spain, coming on as a substitute for Andoni Zubizarreta fo…

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): A is for Alcorcón (14th December, 2017)

Alcorcón is one of Rayo's most underrated shop windows - and the players who've signed for Rayo aren't highly heralded but quietly significant.

So here it is - a run down of players who've signed for Rayo from Alcorcón.

Carlos de la Vega is one of them. After emerging through Rayo Vallecano's youth system, the right-back went on to play with amateur sides Alcalá and Alcorcón, also from his hometown of Madrid, until well into his 20's.

He did not have his first taste of full professional football until the 2008-09 season (he had only played one match with Rayo's first team in 2002-03's La Liga, two minutes) when, after returning to Rayo in the previous year, he was fairly used as the club easily retained its Segunda status.

In late December 2009, de la Vega was loaned to another side in the second level, Huesca, until the end of the season. In July 2012, after more than one year out of football, the 32-year-old signed for two seasons with Leganés in the S…

A new project! The Rayo Vallecano A-Z guide (13th December, 2017)

I used to be a Barcelona fan, and switched to Rayo in 2013. However, it was an entire year before I became a "proper" Rayo fan. It took time to learn about the various intricacies of this fascinating club. Information was difficult to obtain, and the poorest side in La Liga were also the least heard of side.

We live in this information age, where a Google search is the sole obstacle to knowledge, where everyone supposedly knows everything, where Messi vs Cristiano debates rule Twitter - and yet a search for Rayo Vallecano yields nothing more than a Wikipedia page and a Twitter feed.

Nothing about the history of a historic club, the politics of a left-wing club, and the pride of a neighborhood club. This blog has always tried to change that, without any click-bait - which is admittedly an impossible task. But Google search rankings don't define anything, and this new project isn't going to change much in, well, any regard.

However, it might help someone learn a bit mo…

Ismael Chico - the hard-working face of a club representing a hard-working town (12th December, 2017)

Sometimes a blog entry becomes less about the subject matter and how it came about.

I was going to publish this piece a week ago, and it started it like this:

"This weekend, Rayo Vallecano will face Córdoba, coached by Juan Merino. The former center-back, and Real Betis and Recreativo legend, was born in La Línea de la Concepción, in Andalusia, and is one of its most famous sons.

But there is another, lesser known, face of the city. He is no Betis legend, or even a Recreativo one. Heck, he hasn't even played professional football so far."

But on the 4th of December, Juan Merino was sacked. Nevertheless, he has been replaced by Jorge Romero, and this piece remains hanging in the air. Oh well...

"The very name La Línea de la Concepción is a reminder of Gibraltar's proximity. The town derives its name firstly from the línea or boundary line separating Spain from Gibraltar, and secondly from the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

The town is famous fo…

The story of three defensive midfielders whose careers are connected: Part 3 - Raúl Baena (11th December, 2017)

You can read part 1, about Sergio Matabuena, here. And part 2, about Javi Fuego, here.



Pep Guardiola was revered by Barcelona fans because he achieved something believed to be impossible - winning trophies consistently whilst playing beautiful, attacking football.

But beauty is subjective - and it isn't just of one type.

It's hard to justify how a tough-tackling, yellow-card accumulating player who barely ever scores or assists goals can be described as beautiful. It's hard to see the importance of a player like that in a system that rewards passing and movement.

But there is something beautiful, something heroic, something almost poetic, about a La Masia youth graduate, his hair flying in the air, his eyes determined, his brow tensed, his speed, stamina and strength all summoned, into a ridiculous tackle that looks impossible yet he emerges with the ball cleanly.

And he does it again. And again. And again.



If Espanyol fans came up a with a list of players who have one-uped Bar…