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From Udinese to Granada - the legal rathole: Part 2 (22nd November, 2017)

Continuing from part 1 yesterday, which you can read here...

But perhaps the most controversial signing in my opinion was not of one who clocked many appearances but who scored many goals, and that is the signing of 2008-09 Segunda B's top scorer Tariq Spezie. Tariq's story is genuinely unique - he was born in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates to an Italian father and a Spanish mother. As the political situation in the region worsened, eventually leading to the Iran-Iraq War, the family relocated to Italy with their one-year infant, and later to Spain. Tariq played youth football in modest clubs in Catalonia, such as Racing Blanenc and Vilobí, making his senior debut with Real Valladolid B at the age of 19 and competing the 1999-00 season in the Segunda B and the next one in the Tercera with the club, scoring a combined 22 goals. He would play for another reserve team in the 2001-02 campaign, as he helped Espanyol B finish second in the Segunda B.

Tariq spent the following eight-and-a-half years in the Segunda B, with Cacereño (2002-03), Linares (2003), Palencia (2004), Sabadell (2004-05), Águilas (2005-08), Puertollano (2008-09) and Granada (2009-January 2011). In the 2008-09 season he scored a career-best 24 goals - best in the division, and added 19 for Granada in the following campaign, who had loaned him from Udinese. However, some at Granada were trying to get rid of him, not convinced he could deliver in the Segunda (a division he had not played in), and were trying to swap him with Alejandro "Chando" Torres in the summer of 2010. However, no such move materialized, and Tariq was simply frozen out of the team.

Tariq Spezie

After just 147 minutes of action across six appearances in as many months he was loaned to Segunda side Huesca in January 2011 via Udinese. Eight goals in 18 appearances ensured the side would retain their league status, and moved to Huesca permanently in the summer of 2011. He would stay there until 2014, enduring a relegation to the Segunda B in 2013.

Afterwards, he joined Segunda B side Huracán Valencia in July 2014; however, following his team's disqualification for financial issues in December 2015, he dropped down a league to sign for neighboring Castellón in January 2016. He retired in August of the same year.

There were others too: attacking midfielder Felipe Sanchón, a La Masia graduate, signed for Aris in the summer of 2007 after season long stints at Barcelona's neighbors Figueres, Girona and L'Hospitalet. In the 2009 January transfer window, Sanchón returned to Spain and Girona on a loan until the end of the season. And in July 2009, Sanchón signed for Udinese and was loaned to Granada, contributing with 33 games and four goals. And in late January 2011 he left Granada, like many players, and was loaned out to Segunda side Gimnàstic de Tarragona. He has since played for Hércules (2011-12), Girona (2012-17), and now plays for Sabadell.

Felipe Sanchón, at Gimnàstic de Tarragona

Defender Jonathan Mensah was signed from South African club Free State Stars in January 2010, and loaned for a year-and-a-half months - signing for Ligue 1 side Evian in the summer of 2011. He played at the French club for four seasons but mustered just 44 appearances, and was banned in May 2015 for four months by FIFA in a breach-of-contract case, that judged that Mensah was still contracted to Udinese when he joined Evian four years prior claiming to be a free agent. He joined Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in February 2016, and in January 2017 later signed for MLS club Columbus Crew, where he now plays.

Other players include Iván Amaya, the defender who was signed from Elche and who I've written about before, and Óscar Pérez, the midfielder who was signed from Tenerife. Óscar Pérez started his professional career with hometown's Real Oviedo, but was not very successful there, playing only 14 games with the main squad in three seasons (2000-03) as the club consecutively dropped two divisions. After a Segunda campaign at Eibar, he joined Córdoba in 2004, but the club suffered relegation in the 2004-05 season. In late January 2006, with the Andalusians in the third level, he moved to England with Bolton Wanderers, but did not manage any first-team appearances.

After being released in May 2006 with four other players, Pérez returned to Spain, signing with Tenerife. The Canary Islands side returned to the top level in 2009 after seven years, and he appeared in 29 matches (although only three complete games), scoring once. He was immediately loaned to Granada in 2009 after signing for Udinese, and Granada in turn loaned him out to Cádiz for the 2011-12 season (another aspect of this whole craziness which we will talk about) and Racing Santander for the 2012-13 season. In December 2013, he signed for Thai club Ratchaburi, and then later for Tercera side Caudal. He helped Caudal to promotion in 2016, and spent the 2016-17 campaign there. He now plays for Tercera side Marino de Luanco.

Óscar Pérez, against Celta Vigo

There were even examples of players being bought from Spanish clubs only to join Granada. Defensive midfielder Ritchie Kitoko, who was born in Zaire but moved to Belgium in his teens, entering Standard Liège's youth system in 2004. Two years later he signed his first professional contract, with Albacete Balompié in Spain, spending almost two full seasons with the B-team in the fourth division. He signed with Udinese in August 2009, but in January 2010 he returned to Spain and signed for Granada. In January 2011, after Granada coach Fabri gave him just four appearances, he joined Tenerife on loan until the summer of 2012, followed by Girona for the 2012-13 campaign, Real Jaén for the 2013-14 campaign, and Greek side Asteras Tripoli for two seasons, before being released and joining UCAM Murcia in 2016, where he plays to this day.

Ritchie Kitoko

Right-winger Javier Casares was bought from San Fernando in July 2009, and within a month was loaned to Granada - after one campaign, he was released. The former Atlético Sanluqueño (2003-05), Alcalá (2005-06) and Arcos (2006-07) player went on to play for Alavés (2010-12), Real Oviedo (2012-13), Amorebieta (2013-14), Hércules (2014-15), Atlético Baleares (2015-16), Lleida Esportiu (2016-17), and is now back at San Fernando.

There was another player who joined Granada from Udinese that season, such as defensive midfielder Abdul Aziz Tetteh began his career with Ghanaian club Liberty Professionals, before being signed by Udinese in January 2008. Tetteh left in the summer of 2008 on loan with Xerez in the Segunda. After a year with Xerez he returned to Udinese, who then loaned him to Granada. After a season on loan at Granada, another at Leganés and another at Montañeros, all in the Segunda B, he joined Greek side Fokikos in 2012. He has since played for Platanias (2013-15) also in Greece, and for Polish side Lech Poznań (2015-now).

Abdul Aziz Tetteh, at Lech Poznań

And then there are some cases which are quite simply bizzare. Left-back Rubén Párraga, ex-Málaga B (2003-06) and ex-Córdoba (2006-09), was signed by Granada in 2009 without the jurisdiction of Udinese. But that didn't stop Udinese - he was an integral part of the 2009-10 campaign, and Udinese bought him and loaned him back for the 2010-11 campaign. He was subsequently released, and played for Real Murcia and Huesca for a campaign each.

And that's the 2009-10 contingent. Watch out for part 3 for other players who moved from Udinese to Granada, even some who moved the other way round, and how Cádiz got involved...


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