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The 2003-04 season stories. And a great Alberto Bueno performace (9th July, 2017)

Imanol Etxeberria, in 2002, moved to Rayo Vallecano, replacing the departed Kasey Keller. In his first season he became the regular goalkeeper over veteran Julen Lopetegui (also from Gipuzkoa) who retired at the end of that campaign. In 2002-03 he was the starter for most games but was challenged by Sergio Segura, and the club was relegated after four years in La Liga.

Rayo suffered a second successive relegation in 2004 - in a chaotic campaign, Etxeberria played in eight matches at the beginning of the season under Lopetegui (in his first appointment as head coach) but was largely overlooked in favour of Segura by his successor Jorge D'Alessandro, who then brought in another goalkeeper, his compatriot Sebastián Saja, on loan. D'Alessandro was then replaced by Txetxu Rojo, who again had no place in his plans for Etxeberria - he was sent away from Rayo altogether and trained with Bilbao Athletic until the season's end.



There would be four managerial spells.

Julen Lopetegui would take charge for 10 games, but with just two wins his first managerial experience was over within a couple of months, after which he would leave managing for a while to work as a commentator. Caretaker duties once again fell on José Luis Martín, whose sole game in charge, once again, was a 2-1 loss - this time at Tenerife.

Jorge D'Alessandro would take the reins and initial signs were promising - Rayo won their first three (yes, consecutive) games under his wing - 2-1 wins against Sporting de Gijón, Almería and Málaga B - which took Rayo from 21st to 14th. But two wins from the next 10 game meant that Rayo were in 19th, back in the drop zone, and a new manager was predictably on his way. José Francisco 'Txetxu' Rojo oversaw the final 18 games, and while four wins in that period meant that Rayo still had a slim shot at survival on the final day, a 2-1 loss at Vallekas against Las Palmas meant that both teams on the field were going down. And - because of how other results went - a win wouldn't have changed anything anyway.

What followed were four long, dark seasons in the Segunda B....



13 players.

There were 13 players who stayed on after the 2002-03 La Liga relegation for the 2003-04 Segunda season: Sergio Segura, Imanol Etxeberria, Diego Mainz, Patricio Graff, Mario Gómez, Hélder, Pablo Sanz, Jorge Azkoitia, Roberto Peragón, Sergio Corino, Iriney Santos, Luis Cembranos and José Fernando Marqués.



I'm tempted to let the video speak for themselves, but it's important to note the context...

Alberto Bueno jumped 10 places in the goalscoring charts in 14 minutes against Levante in February 2015, overtaking Sergio García, Artiz Aduriz and Nolito as the top-scoring Spaniard thanks to four goals for Rayo between 6:23pm and 6:37pm.

Imagine - the irony of having to hear the Final Countdown four times in 14 minutes - for a good reason.

He would go on to score five more goals in the league for a total of 17 goals - one shy of Aduriz.









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