Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

From Catalonia to Heybridge - the story of an eighth division club (19th October, 2017)

After spending his whole life at UDA Gramenet and a season at Europa, Guillem Ramón moved to Terrassa in the summer of 2014. It was just another Catalan player transferring between two clubs in the Catalan regional leagues - nothing extraordinary.

But it was consequential.

In March 2015, in a match against Sabadell, the full back suffered a complete meniscal rupture, and his season was over. So was his contract - and a big chunk of the 2015-16 season as well. He ended up signing for Cerdanyola, without pay (as he was recuperating), and the doctors said that January would be his return time. However, he debuted in November.

In hindsight, it was a mistake.

After two games, in a training session, on November 25th he got injured again - this time in the quadriceps in the same leg. After two months of recuperation, and still no guarantee of pay, Guillem left for new pastures in February 2016. A trial at Coplestonians FC followed; so did an opportunity at Needham Market FC, in the seventh t…

Non-league Incider: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

When I was more young and foolish I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't visit a football stadium until I visited Vallekas. Frustrated by my inability to plan a trip, I broke that promise by watching a game in the sixth tier of English football.

This is that game. This is my story.

If I've learnt anything, it's this: never make promises to yourself. Promises to yourself are like bonds to an imaginary world - they're not attached to anything. Instead, they only serve to frustrate you, and sometimes those around you.

In 2016, I remember being outside Wembley and not going inside for a stadium tour. In 2014, I remember giving up the opportunity to watch Real Madrid play AC Milan in Dubai. For a year the stadiums of Chelsea and Fulham were on the same street as mine. For three years, every time my friend said he was going to watch Leyton Orient, every time my brother talked about his love for Arsenal, every time I looked at a map of London and saw how close I was to the …

Fuenlabrada - the mighty challengers: Part 2; aka Juan Quero - the roller-coaster (15th October, 2017)

In just a few months, Fuenlabrada have competed for promotion to the Segunda, signed a center-back from a La Liga side, and will now be playing Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

This is part 2 of a series about Fuenlabrada, the mighty challengers to Real Madrid, who they play in the cup on the 26th of October.

You can read part 1 here.

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…