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The Rayo aficionado - with David Méndez (30th August, 2017)

David Méndez grew up in Vallecas, is 39 and has been a member of Rayo since he was 17. You can follow him on Twitter: @davidvk78.

How long have you been a fan of Rayo and what made you support them in the first place?

I was always keen about Rayo since my childhood, but because of my father I also supported Real Madrid when I was a child. He is a Real Madrid fan and he used to take my brothers and I to the Santiago Bernabéu. Later when I was a teenager I lost my interest in Real Madrid while my interest in Rayo increased more and more.

Describe your first visit ever to Vallecas and the stadium? How would you describe the fans in the stadium, and how intimidating is the stadium for opposition fans and players?

I don’t remember which it was my first visit to Vallecas’ stadium exactly. I guess it would be when I was at school and I was about 8 or 9 years old, by that time Rayo used to distribute tickets in the schools of the neighborhood and I got several tickets because other kids gave up their tickets - they weren’t interested in Rayo. So I went to Vallecas’ stadium with my father and some of my brothers, I loved the atmosphere - maybe the stadium wasn’t as big as Bernabéu but the football atmosphere was better.

To an outsider - how would you describe Rayo's playing style, what it means to be a fan of the club, and what it means to be a player of the club?

Rayo’s playing style changed ever since Paco Jémez arrived at the club, he bets on a nice game style with a lot of ball possession where even the goalkeeper is involved in possession. This game style was very dangerous when we played against big teams such as Barcelona or Real Madrid, where Rayo was defeated easily and got thrashed. Currently with Míchel our play style is very similar to that Jémez but it’s not so risky in defense.

How would you describe the last few seasons for Rayo fans?

The last 5 seasons were good in general, only the last two season were a bit "grey". In our last season in La Liga we got relegated to the second division by only 1 point and last season we played badly and we had three different coaches during the season. Nevertheless, Rayo was able to stay 5 years in a row in the first division playing great football and even achieving an 8th place finish in the table, the best position in its history.

What is your opinion on the utilization of the youth teams? How would you rate the opportunities that youth players get in the first team?

Rayo's youth teams have succeeded in the last years, the second team got to play in 2ªB (third division in Spain) and the youth team was able to win important tournaments such as the youth league and the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid. But it’s very difficult for a young player to reach the first team, last season Fran Beltrán got it and next season Akieme will be in the first team. Probably, now that we are playing in the second division, we’ll see more young players in the first team.

List some things you appreciate and some things you can’t stand about the club management.

I don’t like the club management for several reasons, firstly because in my opinion our owner Raúl Martín Presa is a bad president who doesn’t listen to Rayo fans. He doesn’t want to listen to the neighborhood and its problems, he doesn’t want to listen to the Rayo fans and their problems. For example our stadium is abandoned, it’s an old stadium which needs fixing of some important things like seats, toilets and leaks. The stadium also needs to improve the facilities and access, but Presa does nothing, he just blames the city hall and looks the other way but doesn’t solve anything. On the other hand, things like marketing of the club which is a disaster, for example the team kits whose sponsor is Kelme always works poorly.

What are your thoughts on the Bukaneros? How would you describe them and their political affiliations? How would you characterize the board's support to them?

I like the Bukaneros-like penya group of fans inside the stadium, because their way of encouraging the team is amazing they never stop singing until the match finishes. I don’t like the mix of football and politics, but sometimes it’s necessary to show the world the ideals of our neighborhood such as the working struggle or fight against racism. Maybe the only thing I don’t like about them it’s when they have fights with other ultras from other teams because that’s a bad image for the team and the neighborhood.

Now, for some fun:
Any favorite Rayo song/chant?

My favourite Rayo song is “A las armas”.

Do you belong to a particular penya? If so, which one?

No, I don't.

How important is it for you that Rayo wins versus Rayo plays well?

The most important thing is to win but I prefer to lose a match playing well rather than losing a match playing poorly.

Best signing Rayo has made? Worst signing Rayo has made?

In the last years great players have played here, such as Diego Costa, Saúl Ñíguez, Kakuta or Chori Domínguez but all of them were loaned from other teams. For this reason, if I have to choose a player who played here as a permanent player of Rayo Vallecano I would choose Michu without a doubt. About our worst signing, I would choose Pato Graff because he was and he is still the most expensive signing in our history but we never saw his skills here in Vallecas.

Favorite player? Favorite manager?

My favorite player is Luis Cembranos and my favorite manager is Juande Ramos.

What is your favorite thing about Rayo, and why?

My favourite thing about Rayo is that it’s the team that represents my neighborhood and its values throughout Spain.

Is there something that the media doesn't (or maybe doesn't want to) talk about Rayo Vallecano that you think is worth mentioning?

The media in Spain only report on Real Madrid and Barcelona all the time. I’d like the media report more on the rest of Spain's teams including Rayo.

Which websites/newspapers/people do you get your Rayo information from?

I get information from Rayo thank to social networks like Twitter or Facebook. There are some good sports journalist who report well on Rayo such as Carlos Sánchez Blas, Isaac Fouto or Raúl Granado. I also belong to a forum called “Planeta Rayista” where one can leave their comments about players or matches and can also ask any questions about the team.

Your thoughts on the season ahead?

I have good feelings for this season and I hope the team fights to be in the top positions!

A huge thanks to David for taking the time to do this!

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