Skip to main content

When Eibar gave 31-year-old Raúl García a shot at professional football (30th October, 2017)

If you read the piece on Javi Lara, you would see that Eibar gave a La Liga chance to a 28-year-old who had just finished his first successful Segunda season.

But seven years earlier, Eibar gave a Segunda chance to a 31-year-old player who had never played in the professional leagues.

This is a story of perseverance, dedication, and the rarity of opportunity.

This is the story of Raúl García Fernández.

He is one of the Segunda B's greatest ever players. The third best, some would say - he has played 42539 minutes in the third tier, the third most in the league.

It all started in the 1994-95 season, in the ranks of Real Unión de Irún in the Segunda B. Gonzalo Arconada gave him his debut, and at the age of just 18 he was already a regular starter. After three seasons at Real Unión and a season at Racing Ferrol he landed in Barakaldo.

For four seasons, between 1998 and 2002, Barakaldo were coached by Alfonso Del Barrio and Peio Aguirreoa. And for all four of them Raúl García was an undisputed starter on the right flank, helping the team qualify for the playoffs thrice (1998-99, 1999-00 and 2001-02) and winning the "title" in Group I of the Segunda B in 2001-02.

He would have more chances at promotion - he went on to play for Burgos CF between 2002-05, and under Carlos Terrazas (2002-04) and Federico Castaños (2004-05) the side competed in the promotion playoffs in Raúl García's first and final season. And after a season at Palencia, he would rejoin Burgos for the 2006-07 season under ex-coach Gonzalo Arconada, and would compete for promotion, once again unsuccessfully, with Burgos in the 2006-07 season.

Raúl García at Burgos


Burgos have never competed for promotion to the Segunda since. In contrast, Raúl García, at the age of 31, finally got his shot at professional football. Newly promoted Eibar, under Manix Mandiola, signed several Segunda rookies - but Raúl García was the oldest of them all, and he was an undisputed starter for the two seasons that Eibar spent in the Segunda. At the age of 33, and back in the Segunda B, Raúl García must have thought that his Segunda dreams were over.

They were just starting.
Raúl García at Eibar

The Basque native subsequently signed for Mirandés, newly promoted to the Segunda B, since technical secretary Carlos Lasheras knew Raúl García from their time at Burgos three seasons before. He became an integral part of a Julio Bañuelos side that finished 13th and comfortably achieved permanence in the league. From being newly promoted in 2009, Mirandés went on to compete in a promotion playoff in 2011 under Carlos Pouso (who previously coached Raúl García at Eibar), losing to Guadalajara in the final.

And in the 2011-12, Raúl García, and Mirandés, enjoyed their best season yet - not just winning the promotion playoffs against Atlético Baleares but also enjoying a dream run in the Copa del Rey, reaching the semi-finals by defeating Amorebieta, Linense (both Tercera), Logroñés (Segunda B), Villarreal, Racing de Santander and Espanyol (all La Liga).

He was back in the second tier, for the second time - but Fate played spoilsport this time. During the 2012–13 campaign, 36-year-old García suffered a serious injury to the meniscus on his left knee, being sidelined for two months. And while he scored his first and only goal in the second level - a decisive goal against Girona in a 1-1 draw, he had to leave the club, and playing football, in July 2013.

He may have stopped playing football, but he hasn't stopping being in football. In the 2014-15 season he became a technical assistant to ex-coach Carlos Pouso at UD Logroñés in the Segunda B, where he competed, unsuccessfully, in two promotion playoffs to the Segunda (2014-15 and 2015-16 ). And after Carlos was fired he joined the technical secretariat of the riojano side.

Eibar gave many a chance. Raúl García was the oldest of them all, but that 2007 summer saw many players who never would have had a shot at Segunda football to get that opportunity.

Joseba del Olmo was signed from Sestao at the age of 26, and within a season Athletic Bilbao paid his 300,000 euro release clause to have him play in La Liga. Asier Goiria, also 26, accompanied Raúl García from Burgos and scored 14 goals, also earning a move to a La Liga side (Numancia) within a season. Markel Robles was signed from Real Unión at the age of 28 - a player who Eibar's B team had released just three years before.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hinchas y Jugadores - Gimnàstic with Marius Helgå (14th May, 2017)

Marius Helgå is a 40 year old Gimnàstic fan who lives in Oslo. He is originally from Mo i Rana, Norway (1000 km north from Oslo). He has two hobbies: "playing bass trombone and watching football." 

He runs the Twitter account @nasticnoruega for Gimnàstic fans in Norway. As if he wasn't hipster enough, he also supports Stålkameratene who are in the fifth level of Norwegian football. Not to mention Tromsø (Norwegian top level), Manchester United, Juventus and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Follow him on Twitter here.



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

I visited Tarragona on a trip to Spain in 2006, and immediately fell in love with the city. As I didn’t have a club I supported in Spain then, it was an easy choice to start supporting the club.

Given the transfer windows and the squad that was assembled at the start of the season, is Gimnàstic where you want it to be?

After a great 2015-16 season, I was really expecting more of Nàs…

Hinchas y Jugadores - An exclusive interview with Román Golobart (1st May, 2017)

When did you make the decision to pursue football and what motivated you to do so?

I never realized I took a decision, since a very young age I knew that would be my life so I took it for granted that I was going to become a footballer.

The motivation was nothing other than enjoying it a lot!

What were your initial thoughts when you were at Espanyol and Wigan became interested in you, and what motivated you to move to England?

Both moments were very satisfactory. I went to a summer camp that Espanyol organizes and after it I got a letter from the club. I was excited, willing to do it - I was nervous, but the kind of nervous that one gets when you know you have a nice challenge ahead.

With Wigan it was a call, but still a very similar reaction. The thing with Wigan was that even though I was bad in English class, I knew I would end up going to England to play football so I didn't bother paying attention as I knew I would learn it there. And so it happened.

Did you find it difficult t…

From Catalonia to Heybridge - the story of an eighth division club (19th October, 2017)

After spending his whole life at UDA Gramenet and a season at Europa, Guillem Ramón moved to Terrassa in the summer of 2014. It was just another Catalan player transferring between two clubs in the Catalan regional leagues - nothing extraordinary.

But it was consequential.

In March 2015, in a match against Sabadell, the full back suffered a complete meniscal rupture, and his season was over. So was his contract - and a big chunk of the 2015-16 season as well. He ended up signing for Cerdanyola, without pay (as he was recuperating), and the doctors said that January would be his return time. However, he debuted in November.

In hindsight, it was a mistake.

After two games, in a training session, on November 25th he got injured again - this time in the quadriceps in the same leg. After two months of recuperation, and still no guarantee of pay, Guillem left for new pastures in February 2016. A trial at Coplestonians FC followed; so did an opportunity at Needham Market FC, in the seventh t…