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Paco Jémez - if a crazy, demanding, passionate football fan was on the touchline (10th September, 2017)

He is the son of a flamenco singer, Francisco Crespo Aguilar, better known as Lucas de Écija. He said he had "neither the voice or the talent" for what his father did, but entertainment is in his blood.

A firebrand idealist, he ripped into anyone who even dared to think about hoofing the ball long, who shouted toca in his every breath - repeatedly, relentlessly, almost religiously, who loved nothing more than his team passing the ball from the goalkeeper into the opposition's goal without it leaving the ground.

He spared nothing and no one from his actions and words. He told players to be brave, pointing at his cojones when asked how. He shouted at players to be calmer and he shouted at players to be more energetic. He told players that they were mierda when they were, well, mierda. He took players off and then shouted at them while on the bench - for every one to see.

Lass publicly fought him. So did Bebé. Anaitz Arbilla cried - twice. But they all came back stronger. No one, not even Roberto Trashorras, was off the hook - sometimes, Paco told Trashorras to get off free-kicks altogether and let Alejandro Gálvez take them, and the best part was that it worked.

That's Paco ripping into the heartbeat, the talisman, and the captain of Rayo - and that's just Trashorras.
He kicked the ice cooler a lot - almost symbolically implying that he wasn't going to keep his cool. He paraded the touchline, giving linesmen a hard time who probably thought he was one step away from storming onto the pitch. His movements were incomprehensible to the TV cameras that clearly needed higher frame rates - they were as poor as the team. In a dizzying array of white and red, the team attacked and charged and pushed high up the pitch, as boldly and crazily as the man on the touchline willing them on with eccentric elbow patches and jazzy waistcoats.

He clapped a lot. For unusually long, unusually fast and almost unusually rhythmically, almost to imitate the rhythm of his father's music. His father's powerful and rough voice was clearly inherited, heard by thousands in Vallekas - his battle cries of Ahí and Ayuda sometimes shaking the noisy stadium.

His treatment of the media - by golly, he always surprised and amazed. He begged to be sacked when the team struggled to gel at the start of every season. He whipped out a passport when rumors mentioned him having gone to Singapore to speak to Peter Lim about a possible Valencia move. His theory on playing football was "one ball and two bollocks". He got into a public media feud with Zinedine Zidane about whether he had the necessary qualifications to even coach. And he even talked about politics passionately just after leaving Rayo, criticizing Podemos and saying that he voted for the PP (Partido Popular).

You could never accuse him of being obstinate. Principled, yes. Unorthodox, yes. But never obstinate. He made first half substitutions when he didn't get tactics right, and the press conference that followed the match always acknowledged those and other mistakes. He defended players on and off the pitch from unjust attacks from the media and the referees, because he believed in them just as much as the fans did.

But behind all that footballing passion is a man of substance and emotion. He cried when Rayo went down. He, along with the technical team and players, paid from his own pocket the rent of 85-year-old Vallekas resident Carmen, who was being evicted from the apartment she loved when her son, unbeknownst to her, used it as security for a loan of 40,000 euros. He said later - "We’re not going to stand around and do nothing, we’re going to help this woman". And he hit out against the club repeatedly. He criticized the decision allowing the club sponsor to impose the signing of Zhang Chengdong, which sparked off a bitter feud between him and the sporting director. He said that he would take a pay cut and lead the team in the Segunda for 2016-17 as long as "things on a sporting level are done with rigor, tranquility and serenity", and the club refused.

I miss him. I miss his passion and his principles. I miss that even when Rayo were mierda, you could always looked at his actions and be entertained. You could look at his desire and believe in the team. Sometimes, you could look at the crazy, demanding, passionate coach, and see in him a crazy, demanding, passionate football fan. The screen you thought you were watching was, in fact, a camera.

He was you - on the touchline.

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