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A legend with no recognition - Badalona's 40 year old goalkeeper (29th August, 2017)

I love plotting a player's career on Google Maps and seeing how many years it took them to travel the distance it did. Obviously, for players who travel internationally, the fun quickly goes away. For example, Joan Verdú, the ex-Real Betis playmaker left for Baniyas (in the UAE) in 2014 - only to go all the way back to Fiorentina in the summer on 2015. Or Ricardo Quaresma, who in two-and-a-half years went from Besiktas to Al-Ahli (Dubai) to Porto, and back to Besiktas again.

But sometimes, a player can impact just small communities with small clubs with even smaller ambitions. And their entire career, from when they were a little boy to when they're playing now at 41, can look like this.

The stadiums of UDA Gramenet - CF Damm - UDA Gramenet - Torre Baró - FC Santboià - CE Mataró - Terrassa FC - UE Sant Andreu - CF Badalona

That, right there, is a 182 kilometer journey, that would take 3 hours 17 minutes on road. It is also the journey of a man who loved Catalunya so much that he never left it. All the more remarkable considering that he built his football career the hard way - from the lower divisions into professional football.

If anything, he represents Catalunya and the struggle its footballers face - winning the Copa Cataluyna thrice, overcoming the likes of Barcelona and Espanyol and even appearing for its national team regularly despite never playing in La Liga.

He has rarely seen life on the bench - he holds the record for most number of consecutive appearances in the starting eleven in the Segunda B. 460 matches - which is every match he has playing in that league - and it's not even close. In fact, if you add La Liga and the Segunda in the equation, he comes in number 3 with 521 matches (out of a possible 561), behind Francisco Buyo (664) and Zubizarreta (622).

Not a bad list to be third on. And that top 3 looks the same for another record - most matches without conceding a goal, where he sits on 197 (Buyo is on 250, Zubi on 233).

Oh, here's another one - he is second on the list of most complete games played in the Segunda B (455), and he is seven short of the record holder Fernando Maestro (462). He is also second on the list of most goals conceded in the Segunda B, where he is 14 shy of Maestro - not that he'd want to be on that list.

The point I'm making is that he is the greatest Segunda B keeper ever. There is no dispute about that.

And yet you don't even know his name...



He started in Gramenet's base football and then went to Damm in the youth stage, only to return to the colomenc team again. His senior career started in the Torre Baró in 1996 in the sixth tier, helping it reach the fifth division. Santboià spotted him and he played for them in the Tercera for two seasons and after their relegation for Mataró for one season (winning promotion to the Segunda B).

As if his rise wasn't meteoric enough, Terrassa, in the Segunda B, signed him in 2000. In four seasons he went from the sixth tier to being a starter for a third tier side. And it got even better when in 2002 Terrassa not only reached the Segunda but also won the Copa Catalunya by beating Espanyol and Barcelona.

His legacy - eight seasons in Terrassa (2000-08), and seven in Sant Andreu (2008-15) - are supported not just by his love of Catalunya but by his skill set. Confidence, an imposing physique and quick reflexes have made him an undisputed choice - not just at Segunda B teams but also in the Catalan national team where he has played alongside the likes of Xavi and Guardiola. And he is still going strong in the Segunda B with Badalona.

His name? José Miguel Morales Martínez.

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