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From Levante to Guizhou, the first Spaniards to play in China: Part 1 - Nano Rivas (26th November, 2017)

In 2012, a defender, a midfielder and a striker, all playing for Levante, made the bold leap to a country no Spaniard had ever been before.

In late January, 2012, center-back Nano Rivas was sold to Guizhou Renhe. Two months later, in March, striker Rafael Jordà was on his way. And three months later still, in June, diminutive midfielder Rubén Suárez was on his way....




Nano Rivas was born in Ciudad Real, and started his youth career at local Manchengo. He was quickly snapped up by Atlético Madrid, and made his professional debut with their B team between 2000-02. In 2002-03 he was loaned to Getafe in the second level, before moving to the club on a permanent deal in the summer of 2003; an undisputed starter with the Madrid outskirts team, he scored four goals in 37 games in the 2004-05 campaign, their first ever in La Liga.

Nano was signed by Real Betis in 2005. He was set to have a promising season before being injured in the Champions League group stage match against Chelsea in November, in his first and only appearance in the competition, as he was ruled out of action for five months. He also appeared in one UEFA Cup game and made 14 league appearances in his first year, and played a further 21 contests for Real Betis in the 2006-07 season.

Established as first-choice alongside veteran Juanito in the 2007-08 season, Nano unfortunately suffered a severe knee injury against Deportivo in September 2007, which made him miss six months of action. In September 2008, a one-year loan deal was agreed as Nano joined Real Valladolid in a season-long move. He appeared scarcely throughout his spell, as both center-back and left back, and his return to Betis would be even more unassuming as it consisted of one league match (18 minutes), with the club failing to return to the top division.

Nano Rivas


Levante, whose transfer business specializes in picking up substitutes, and in August 2010, aged 30, Nano signed with them. An automatic first-choice during his first season, he formed a solid partnership with Sergio Ballesteros, he started in all the games for the side during the first half of 2011-12, as they spent the vast majority of that period in UEFA Champions League qualification positions. In very late January 2012, however, he was sold to Guizhou Renhe in the Chinese Super League.

Nano announced his retirement in February 2014, and has since dipped his toes into management. In July 2015, he was appointed Vicente Moreno's assistant manager at Gimnàstic de Tarragona. In May 2016, Nano was named Getafe B manager, replacing Rubén de la Red. And roughly one year later he returned to Nàstic, being appointed at the helm of the main squad for the remainder of the season.

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