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On this day, two years ago. And more on Zé Castro (19th April, 2017)

Exactly two years ago, to this very day, Rayo Vallecano played Almería.

On the 19th of April, 2015, a sunny day in Vallekas greeted two squads with very different moods. The previous week, Rayo had been smashed for six at the Balaídos, while Almería had won 3-0 against Granada.

For me, the first goal against Almería was what personified Rayo.

A corner by Kakuta is taken short and the ball finds its way to Zé Castro. Castro ends up dribbling past two players with a feint, crosses the ball into the box, and Antonio Amaya scores a header.

So what's so special about that?

Castro and Amaya are both center backs. Yes, a 32-year-old center back dribbled and crossed the ball to a 31-year-old center back who scored a header. That's the beauty of positional play - any player should theoretically be able to play anywhere. Obviously, at a small club like Rayo that's not always possible, which is why fans should appreciate it when goals like those are scored.

To score is in itself amazing - to score a goal like that is a cherished memory.


August 29th, 2013. Leave it to Rayo to scramble at the last minute and make an amazing, seemingly impossible signing.

This time, they made two.

Zé Castro, and Seba Fernández half an hour later, were the two gems that had been picked up. Castro was a "boring" signing - he had played for Atlético de Madrid but was more of a backup. And at Depor, Zé Castro appeared in only ten games in 2009–10, and featured even less in the following season, prompting him to request a move in mid-November 2010.

Some people even disliked him - in March 2011, he was to be picked as a last-minute substitute for a league match against Real Sociedad after Aythami Artiles went down with a bout of gastroenteritis, but did not present himself at the Estadio Riazor, and could not be traced through his cellphone.

On the other hand, Seba had played for the Uruguay national team 14 times and had played for Málaga for three seasons, and had even scored in the Champions League. Not only was he an exciting signing, he was a Málaga fan favorite. His dedication, fighting spirit and sacrifice, as well as his character on and off the field were revered - his praises were already being sung.

And yet, every Rayo fan can safely sing those praises about Castro. Seba, on the other hand, suffered a combined ACL and meniscus rupture in the right knee. The diminutive striker's career at Rayo was over after just nine games.

And most fans won't even remember his name.

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He was short. Very short. At 5'3", the left winger sometimes played in an over-sized shirt.

The ball never left his feet. His feet were tiny but they had magic. A dizzying array of body feints, close control, direction changes and sheer speed, often resembling a roller-coaster, left opposition defenders outwitted. And yes - sometimes, he frustrated. Sometimes, he was irregular.

But when he turned up, the world was at his feet.

If Juan Quero plays against Real Madrid he'll be playing against the club that let him go. The club that didn't think he had it in him to become a La Liga player.

The club that was wrong. Very, very wrong - he went fr…