Skip to main content

Toché. As well as Martín Mantovani, Sergio Pelegrín and Edu Albácar (4th June, 2017)

In 2007 he won the Segunda title with Valladolid. In 2008 he won the Segunda title with Numancia. In 2010 he was this close to seeing Cartagena promoted and was in the top 3 for the Pichichi trophy. In 2014 he helped Deportivo secure promotion to La Liga.

José Verdú Nicolás, or Toché, is 33 years old and is a specialist at getting promoted. At jumping up a level. At rising above the defence and scoring.

At rising above the shadows.

A former Atlético graduate, he has Champions League and Europa League experience with Panathinaikos. And now, he is at Real Oviedo. The club that just got promoted and wants to get promoted again.

A powerful header, a knack of rising above a defense and an uncanny ability to score goals, Toché has scored nine times in eighteen games and will surely try to find the back of the net again.

But what goes under the radar when it comes to Toché is his technical ability. In Oviedo’s attacking, one-touch system, he scores one-touch goals like these. He distracts defenders and drags them out of position. He is always at the right place at the right time.

And, of course, the Santomera native rises above the defense in the blink of an eye.



Age is just a number. It's a number that can be used as an excuse for failure. It's an abstract standard, a barrier that we create to ourselves, a false benchmark of our abilities.

When Martín Mantovani came to Madrid a decade ago, he had no money and was forced to sleep in the street while trying to get a chance at Atlético. He never really made it and his career looked in ruins when Garitano gave him an opportunity in 2013.

Three years later, the 32-year-old center-back is the proud captain of Leganés, has led the team from Spain's third division to La Liga and he even dyed his hair blue to celebrate the incredible promotion.

His first match as a professional was at the age of 30.

Center-back Sergio Pelegrín spent until the age of 28 playing in the Segunda División B. He bounced around from club to club in the division for nine straight seasons, playing for Espanyol B (1998-00), Mallorca B (2000-01), Real Zaragoza B (2001-03), Girona (2003-04) and Alicante (2004-07).

Left-back Edu Albácar started even lower - in 1998, at the age of 18, he signed for fifth tier club La Sénia where he earned just 350,000 pesetas a month (equivalent to about 3,000 euros in 2015). In 2000 he would sign for Tercera club Tortosa, where he would experience relegation, and only started playing in the Segunda B when he was about to turn 22 - a scout from Espanyol brought him to the B team. Edu would go on to play for Segunda División B teams until well into his 20s, those teams being Espanyol B (2001-03), Novelda (2003-04) and Alicante (2004-06).

It was Segunda outfit Salamanca who gave Pelegrín a chance in 2007, and Hércules who gave Edu his shot at professional football in 2006. Both players would play two seasons there.

Edu went on to play the 2008-09 season at Alavés, and both players played together for the 2009-10 season at Rayo, forming a formidable partnership.

It was a partnership that had started at Alicante, and one that continues to this day.

Both players played at Elche from 2010-15, making their La Liga debuts well into their 30s - 34 for Sergio and 33 for Edu - in the 2013-14 season. After Elche were administratively relegated, Edu retired and was immediately included in Rubén Baraja's staff, and Sergio moved to Alavés to help them get promoted to La Liga.

But Edu was nowhere near done - he stepped down from retirement this season, returning to Elche at the age of 36. Sergio returned too, and they continue to play professional football at a high level.

Their partnership isn't going away anytime soon.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Non-league Incider: Cray Valley Paper Mills 4-4 Punjab United Gravesend

Last game: 9th August: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers
After ripping up my groundhopping calendar, mostly because I was determined to avoid overnight travel, and partly due to other commitments, there was a period of time where non-league football took a backseat.
But that period did not last long. Because of course it didn't.

Secretly, I'd loved travelling over ten hours back-and-forth to watch some 10th division football. And this was 9th division football in London.
When I had gone to East Dulwich exactly a week back, I had commented on how the amount of graffiti struck me as I watched from on board a southeastern train. I was going the exact same way, but much further this time - then I had stopped at Denmark Hill, now I would have to go six stations further. The graffiti I had thought was so emblematic of south London quickly disappeared, as did the tall buildings desperately cluttered together. We, and by we I mean me, were going to the suburbs. The stations be…

Jaime Mata - the one that got away (18th January, 2018)

A few months ago, Rayo fans woke up to this:
CONVOCATORIA| 📋 Lista de 1️⃣9️⃣ jugadores para el debut mañana en la #CopaDelRey🏆 #NumanciaMálaga⚽️ #VamosMálaga💙 👉 https://t.co/hlScwtJkhYpic.twitter.com/qFGrdvOnrQ — Málaga CF (@MalagaCF) October 23, 2017
That was a bittersweet moment - pride for a Rayista who was going to succeed at Málaga, but bitterness at the club for letting him go for free and not tying him down early enough.

Midfielder Pablo Clavería slipped through the cracks. He wasn't renewed, and got tired of waiting - a depressingly normal situation for a smaller, cash-strapped club.

This is the story of another player who slipped through.

Like Pablo, he has a powerful shot on him. Unlike Pablo, it's key to his job. The striker made his name in his hometown of Madrid in the Tercera, after rising through the ranks of Galáctico Pegaso. He would play for the reserves in 2007, before playing for the senior team during the 2008-09 campaign.

During the 2009-10 campaign, ec…

Non-league Incider: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Last game: 8th August: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

The previous day, I was blown away by my first ever football match experience. Dulwich Hamlet impressed me, but what impressed me more was the journey. The travel to the stadium was just as enjoyable as the football itself.

I had caught the groundhopping bug.

There were no games scheduled for the 9th of August. There was one, near Wigan, and all I had booked earlier was a refundable bus ticket from Manchester Airport leaving at quarter past midnight.

I should have refunded it. This was a mistake. This whole day was a mistake.

I was only slightly hungover from the previous night, but that was nothing compared to this feeling of loss - I couldn't handle the fact that there was a game happening. And I wasn't too far away. Just three hours and a bit. They'll fly by, I thought.

I was in autopilot. Something within me made me get up, grab a bag, and get out the door. This wasn't me. I wasn't travelling - I was …