Skip to main content

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): N is for Nieto and Nacho (29th December, 2017)

The two signings of Francisco Nieto and Nacho Martínez have nothing in common. The former was signed by Rayo in 1970 and the latter in 2012. The former is a left winger and the latter a left-back. The former was born in Baza, in Andalusia and the latter was born in Madrid.

The only common feature is that both players are 175 cm tall.

But they are both examples of how a signing from the depths of the Spanish footballing pyramid can pay immediate dividends.

La Masia, like any other academy, is a wilderness. The journey to the end is elusive. Competition is fierce. And survival is almost impossible.

Almost - there is a road that many choose to take. The back door.

Francisco Nieto almost didn't have to make that choice. After playing for Súria, he signed for Barcelona's youth academy in 1964. He would play there until 1970, rising through the ranks and playing for the juvenil team till 1967, before playing for various feeder clubs - the Barcelona Amateur side (1967-68), Atlético Cataluña (1968-69), and Condal (1969-70). During the 1968-69 campaign, he even played three games with the first team.

Languishing in the Tercera (then the third tier), Nieto's future looked bleak, especially when in 1970 Condal merged with Atlético Cataluña to form a new club, Barcelona B, which acted as Barcelona's reserves. But Nieto's career was given a lifeline when Rayo, in the Segunda, where he would go on to play for four seasons.

He took the back door, and was an undisputed starter for the first three campaigns, but was largely left on the bench during the fourth. Subsequently, he returned to Catalonia to finish his career at Manresa and Girona for two seasons each - all in the third tier - before retiring in 1978.

Rayo Vallecano team photo, 1972-73. Nieto is fourth from the left in the top row.


His playing career is over, but that of Nacho Martínez is only getting started. His story was even more impressive, mainly because he wasn't even signed for the first team - his arrival in 2012 was to the reserve team, who were languishing in the Segunda B.

Born in Madrid, and starting his youth career in Atlético Madrid, Nacho played lower league and amateur football in his first three years as a senior, representing Alcobendas Sport in the Tercera (2008-09), as well as Osasuna B (2009-11) and Getafe B (2011-12) in the Segunda B. And in 2012, the 23-year-old left-back would move to Rayo's reserves in the same division, signing a one-year contract. This wasn't atypical - clubs could barely afford players, let alone long-term contracts.

But Nacho was no typical player.

By the end of October, he was starting in the first team, playing in the Copa del Rey against Las Palmas. His first league appearance was in mid-November. His first ever league goal was this banger against Levante. And he gave José Manuel Casado a run for his money. He was player renowned for his pace, his determination and his drive on the field. And now they were two.

Nacho, making his first team debut against Las Palmas


The trust in Nacho grew exponentially later too - an unfortunate knee injury in January 2013 - ironically sustained against his former club Getafe due to a run-in with Lopo - kept him out of the first team for four months and football generally for two. And yet, he was rewarded with a two-year contract extension and a definitive promotion to the main team.

Casado left that summer, but Nacho remained integral to Rayo. Whether as a starter or as a backup, his loyalty to Rayo was unquestionable. He rejected a move to Real Betis in 2015, despite the obvious financial and sporting benefits it would bring.

When he left for Real Valladolid this summer, Rayo had lost a back-up player. His services were clearly no longer required. And yet, Rayo lost a servant to the club - someone who knew what the shirt meant.

Someone who knew the value of Rayo's back door.

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…