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The brains of the Blanquiverdes (Part 1): Carlos Caballero - Loyalty, misfortune...and a Rayo mistake (20th October, 2017)

Welcome to a new mini-series - yes, the mini-series I love to start but always struggle to finish. This time, I'll try not to.

This one focuses on the technical players at Córdoba, hence the name The brains of the Blanquiverdes. (I think that is why I do these mini-series - I like coming up with names like that.)

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it!



In a market where clubs can rarely offer more than a season-long contract, where teams desperately fill their squads with loaned players and youth hopefuls, where players can risk being unemployed for long periods of time if they don't sign whatever is on the table, a player's loyalty depends more on the club than the player themselves.

Loyalty is rare. But Carlos Caballero Pérez is a rare kind of player.

Not technically - just like many midfielders in Spain, he is a brilliant passer of the ball, creates chances out of nothing and is adept at free-kicks.

And many teams noticed him from an early age. One of them, unfortunately, was not Rayo Vallecano, who released the Alcorcón native, allowing him to move to his local club. He graduated from it, making his senior debut in the 2002-03 season with the Segunda B side less than a month before before his 18th birthday.

But Alcorcón never really gave him a chance. And despite staying till 2006, Alcorcón didn't offer him a contract afterwards either. That summer, he joined Linares, in the same level. And under Pedro Braojos, a manager who believes in keeping the ball on the ground and playing attacking football, he became a revered player at the Andalusian club. Linares actually reached the play offs twice in a row.

As Linares went through financial difficulties, Caballero had interest from Elche and Salamanca - professional Segunda clubs - but ended up joining Cádiz in August 2008, also in the Segunda B.

After a traumatic decline in 2008, it was Carlos Caballero tasked with being the heart-beat of the team - the key piece in Javi Gracia's side. And with the number 10 shirt on his back he became a creative reference for the team while at the same time working tirelessly and not forgetting his defensive duties. His partnership with striker Mariano Toedtli, scoring six goals himself in 37 matches, as well as his excellent set-pieces, led Cádiz back to Segunda football.

His first ever season of professional football, at the age of 25, did not go to plan, as the club clearly did not adapt to the needs of the Segunda, and neither Gracia, nor Víctor Espárrago, could save Cádiz from relegation to the Segunda B.

Many players left the club after that relegation - but Carlos Caballero isn't like many players. He stayed on, and in his third year he was an undisputed starter once again, both under Hristo Vidaković and José González. Unfortunately, this time it was not possible to repeat promotion, but Segunda clubs took notice of him again and Carlos Caballero signed for Córdoba in 2011.

It is here where Fate denied him his moment. After breaking into Córdoba's first team, and fighting season after season, and being part of a historic 2013-14 campaign with five goals in 25 games, he missed the last four months of the season due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury contracted in February 2014 against Real Jaén. He did make his La Liga debut, at the age of 30, in November 2014, but Córdoba had left him behind and in January 2015 he was loaned to Superleague Greece side Veria F.C. until June.

Carlos Caballero signing for Veria, in Greece

But Carlos Caballero is nothing if not a fighter, and despite losing his speed he continues to fight to be a Córdoba starter today...

Watch out for part 2 of this series!

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