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The forgotten team - Compostela. And the end of a forgotten era - Sergio Pelegrín and Edu Albácar (23rd July, 2017)

Good, attacking, ferocious football. That's how I would describe Compostela and their undying philosophy. A brand of play that has seen Compostela rise and fall on the ladder of Spanish football.

Till 1986, Compostela were a stable mid-table third tier club representing the small regional town of Compostela in Galicia. However, that very summer they were relegated. They had attacked and attacked and fought with all their might, kicking and screaming, but went down - with the joint-worst defense in the league.

But giving up their attacking philosophy was out of the question.

It was that philosophy that saw them promoted to the third tier in 1990, promoted to the second tier the year after, and reach the top division in 1994. It was that philosophy that saw them lose the relegation playoff against Villarreal in 1998. It was that philosophy that saw them reach the quarterfinals of the 1999-00 Copa del Rey, defeating the likes of Numancia, Tenerife and Villarreal on the way - all while battling against relegation to the third tier. It was that belief that saw them relegated in 2001 by a solitary point and promoted back in 2002.

Financial problems crept into the club - and sporting success could have saved them. But giving up their attacking philosophy was out of the question.

Even when they were relegated in 2003 despite finishing ninth, even when they were demoted to the fifth tier the very next season, even when it took four seasons to exit the regional leagues, even when a successive promotion in 2009 was dampened by a second demotion to the fifth tier the very next season for not paying players, even when the club went through the whole process of coming back to the fourth tier in 2012 and to the third tier in 2013, and even now as they sit in the Tercera, almost tragically certain to stay there for a long time to come, and financial trouble looming over the club, that singular belief in going for the jugular has kept the club together in turbulent times.

For the club residing in the 14,000-seater San Lázaro, giving up their attacking philosophy is still out of the question.




In the 2013-14 season, Compostela were in group 1 of the Segunda B, after two consecutive promotions. They came in 13th place, five points from safety. Not unusual, until you learn that they didn't win a single away game.

Also, Compostela's Joselu was the top scorer in the league with 30 goals.



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 continued for a long, long time.

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 to Elche too, and they continued to play professional football at a high level.

It's the end of an era.

Sergio Pelegrín announced his retirement on the 14th of July, saying that the relegation of Elche had left wounds that would remain unhealed. And while Edu is currently nursing a knee injury, and it looks like he might make one more season, the partnership is certainly over.

Sergio said he would like to, one day, be a coach. Well, if he wants to inspire young footballers, he has a damn good life story to use.



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