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Ismael Urzaiz and Salamanca. A 22 team La Liga. Trust and Víctor Casadesús (9th June, 2017)

Salamanca traveled to Albacete to compete for promotion to La Liga with an impossible task on their hands.

They had to overturn a 2-0 deficit away from home, against a side that entered La Liga's relegation playoff spots on the final day, and who had scored 44 goals in the league - just four less than Salamanca themselves.

As the clock ticked towards the 90th minute, Salamanca were winning 1-0 yet in danger of losing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Born in Tudela, Navarre, Urzaiz began his professional career at Real Madrid's B-side, making his debut in Segunda División in 1989. Despite being a successful youth international, he did not make any La Liga appearances for the first team (however, he did play one game against Odense BK, in the 1990–91 European Cup).

Urzaiz spent the 1991–92 season on loan at Albacete Balompié, making his top flight debut when he came on as a substitute against Athletic Bilbao in October 1991. In early 1993, he was loaned to Celta de Vigo also in the top flight, appearing rarely and scoring only once.

Urzaiz left Real Madrid permanently in 1993 and during the following three seasons played for three different clubs - Rayo Vallecano, Salamanca and Espanyol - with a very modest scoring rate in the first two.

In the 95th minute, Ismael Urzaiz, who had come on as a sub in the 64th minute, who has scored just one goal all season, scored the goal that changed Salamanca's fortunes.

Ismael would go on to score again in the 110th minute, after which two more goals from Salamanca sealed their fate.

The following campaign, Urzaiz joined Espanyol in La Liga and exploded as a first-rate attacking player, netting 13 top division goals for a side that eventually finished fourth.

The form of a revived Urzaiz attracted interest and in the summer of 1996 he joined Athletic de Bilbao. In ten seasons with the Basque, he scored 115 goals in 367 league appearances. In 1997–98, he helped Athletic finish second - 32 matches, eight goals - which led to direct qualification for the UEFA Champions League, where the player netted once in ten games.

His place was cemented in Athletic Bilbao history - and all because he scored two goals for Salamanca.

As it turned out, Albacete didn't get relegated.

On July 31, 1995, Sevilla and Celta Vigo were relegated to Segunda División B for not provide documentation (audit) neither making their payments to the Royal Spanish Football Federation at time limit. Then, the two best qualified teams to be relegated, Albacete and Valladolid were readmitted to La Liga, and Getafe and Leganés were readmitted to the Segunda. 

Later, Sevilla and Celta Vigo claimed that according to the law they had another 15 working days more because they made allegations days before. Finally, the solution was to not relegate any involved team and expanding the league to 22 teams for next two seasons.

Trust. It's the firm belief we place in someone's ability. Without evidence. Without investigation.

Without certainty.

In the 2004-05 La Liga season, Mallorca were struggling. From the 6th week to the 36th, Mallorca were in the relegation zone. Between the 6th and the 31st jornada (inclusive), Mallorca picked up just 5 wins, 5 draws and 16 losses.

Then, in the 32nd game, a tough fixture at home against Valencia, something changed. At the helm of the team, donning the 28 shirt, was a 19-year-old who had never played professional football before, much less a crucial La Liga match.

Héctor Cúper had truly gone for broke. He had trusted a 19-year-old footballer to save an 89-year-old club from relegation.

Mallorca never lost again that season - Víctor Casadesús scored thrice in seven games, created space for teammates, gave defenses a nightmare, and established himself as a Mallorca fan favorite - before staying at the club for another nine seasons and becoming a Mallorca legend.


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