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The true Rayistas (14th March, 2017)

We seem to think that footballers form emotional attachment and loyalty to their clubs, but being a professional footballer is a job - and that job is their means of survival. Which is why we celebrate, and revere, and treasure those who genuinely care about the club, put their money where their mouth is and stay on.

They didn't need to. They weren't expected to.  And yet they did.

There is no heroism in it. It damages career prospects, takes a toll on the bank account, and history won't remember much about the club, much less the name.

When Rayo underwent two consecutive relegations, three players stuck with the team from the first division to the third. Right-back Mario Gómez, center-back Diego Mainz and goalkeeper Sergio Segura - all youth graduates.

When in 2004 Rayo had reached the Segunda B, Diego Mainz started for the club for three seasons before leaving for Albacete in the second division. Mario Gómez started for one season before leaving for Segunda outfit Elche.

But Sergio Segura did something almost suicidally heroic.

In 2005, Míchel was appointed as Rayo coach - his first ever experience as a manager. Sergio have played 30 games the previous season, and was all set to start for the club again. However, the signing of Alberto Cifuentes meant that Sergio would rarely get first team opportunities. He could have left, and no one would have begrudged him. But Rayo could barely afford to buy players, much less lose a backup keeper of his quality. 

And so he accepted a back up role. In three years he had gone from La Liga starter to Segunda B backup for the same team, and only because he loved the club. 

He did eventually leave the following season, after Rayo signed Javi Muñoz from Málaga's B side. But accepting a backup role had damaged his prospects for good - he never played professional football again. He signed for Mérida in 2006 in the Segunda B, then Alcorcón in 2007 (Segunda B), Candás in 2008 (Tercera), Caudal in 2010 (Segunda B) and Atlético de Lugones in 2013 (Tercera).

Being a Rayista means staying no matter what. It means being loyal at any cost. 

But in modern football, how many true Rayistas really exist?

Edit: 24th April, 2017.

Iriney should also be on this list - his praises were sung here.

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