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The story of a Dutch duo transferring to relegated Rayo - Dave van den Bergh and Robert Gehring (17th November, 2017)

Transfers are always fun.

While digging around former Rayo players, I found that someone had transferred from Rayo Vallecano to Rayo Majadahonda - the other Rayo.

What I uncovered was a fascinating story - the story of two Dutch friends who came together and left in very different ways...

Robert Gehring started his youth career in AFC, and finished it at Ajax; he made his debut in the first team in the second match for the 1995 UEFA Super Cup against Real Zaragoza - a competition Ajax subsequently won - but largely spent his time in the reserves. In the 1996-97 season, he got seriously injured, which stagnated his development.

Robert Gehring, celebrating the Super Cup victory

In 1997 his friend and teammate Dave van den Bergh made the switch to Spanish side Rayo Vallecano. Dave recommended Gehring to the club, and Gehring was invited to a trail - despite the fact that his ACL injury had ruled him out for a year. In the trial, Gehring made such an impression that he was offered a contract.

Before Van den Bergh and Gehring joined the team, the team had been relegated from La Liga after the 1995-96 season and Fernando Zambrano, who signed the Dutch duo, was ousted and replaced by Jesús Ortuondo. He refused to use Gehring - maybe because the Basque coach was "part of an organisation that opposed foreign players in Spain", Gehring would later say - and after six months he was loaned to Segunda B side Rayo Majadahonda. Gehring was initially a starter but lost his place as the season progressed - all in all, he played 17 games for the Madrid based club and scored once.

Robert Gehring subsequently played for AFC - the club where it all began - for eleven seasons between 1998 and 2009, even winning the first division with the club in 2001. He currently works in the textiles industry.

Dave van den Bergh's time at Rayo was slightly more successful - professionally and personally, given that he met his wife in Madrid - but still underwhelming given his reputation. Also a product of the famed Ajax youth program, Van den Bergh actually played for Ajax's senior team from 1995 to 1997, winning one league title during that time and reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

For the next three years of his career, he played for Rayo Vallecano, helping the team get promoted to La Liga, and earning their first UEFA Cup qualification. But opportunities were few and far between, and he played a combined total of 47 games in his three seasons at Madrid.

Dave in a Rayo shirt

Between 2000 and 2006, he played for Utrecht in the Netherlands, contributing 29 league goals over that span and helped the team earn five straight UEFA Cup appearances. He was a member of the Utrecht squad that won the Dutch Cup in 2003 and 2004, scoring the only goal in the 2004 final. Also in 2004, he won the Dutch Super Cup, making him one of the most successful Utrecht players.

He would finish his career in the USA - in June 2006, Van den Bergh (who is married to an American) was signed by the Kansas City Wizards, for whom he scored three goals in thirteen appearances . Prior to the 2007 MLS season, he was traded to New York Red Bulls. And then in January 2009, New York traded Van den Bergh to FC Dallas. In 2009 Van den Bergh had another impressive season appearing in all 30 regular season matches for Dallas recording 3 goals and 11 assists.

His career ended quite unceremoniously - the 2010 MLS season started with Van den Bergh without a team. In spite of his performances, the crafty veteran left winger was waived by FC Dallas prior to the start of the 2010 season after he reportedly questioned coach Schellas Hyndman's coaching style. However FC Dallas maintained his rights in MLS and apparently the club made it very difficult for Van den Bergh to move to a new team.

He would go on to retire, and now manages the U-15 United States Men's National Team.

Edit: Usually, I try finding photos of players talked about - and almost always I see player cards. Usually, I don't put those pictures in, but because I could not find any other photos of the players in a Rayo shirt, well...





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