Skip to main content

The A-Z guide to Rayo Vallecano (Addition edition): J is for Jaén. Real Jaén (24th December, 2017)

Speculation is a fool's game.

On the 24th of June, 2014, three players were presented at the Estadio de Vallekas. A signing from Real Madrid in the first division, a signing from Mallorca in the second, and a signing from Real Jaén in the third. Jozabed was the last of those three in order of reputation. Maybe in order of former club prestige too.

But there was no doubt among fans of the La Liga club that Jozabed was the last in order of ability.

Two seasons later, Jozabed became Rayo's cash cow, leaving for four million euros to Fulham despite being relegated.

A 24-year-old Sevilla graduate from Mairena del Alcor, Jozabed finished his formation in Sevilla's youth ranks, and made his senior debuts in 2010-11 with the C-team. He was promoted to the reserves (Sevilla Atlético) in the summer of 2012, in the Segunda B.

However, seeing no opportunities to break into first team football, Jozabed rescinded his contract and joined second-tier Ponferradina in February 2013, leading his club to just a place off the promotion playoffs. They were behind Las Palmas in the league table, but were level on points, head-to-head points, head-to-head goal difference, head-to-head goals scored and even goal difference; only number of goals scored could separate them. He then joined Real Jaén that summer, where four goals and 12 assists in 36 league matches couldn't prevent relegation to the theoretically amateur third-tier of Spanish football.

In 2014, not many fans could really say that Jozabed was their ideal summer signing. And at the start they were right - he was left out of the first four league match squads and never left the bench in the next two. Until November, he had played in just three league games out of twelve – all from the bench – for a combined total of 83 minutes.

Moreover, just two years before to his signing he was languishing in the Segunda B, looking out for better opportunities.

Jozabed, against Getafe

And then, when Jozabed became a regular starter, he was indispensable in midfield. Fans saw the abilities of the all-round player, whose aerial prowess, tactical intelligence and exceptional vision was just as prominent as his ability to intercept passes, procure last ditch tackles and play positive passes towards the opponent's goal. At 5'11" yet weighing just 70 kilograms, he was able to jump higher than players as tall or slightly taller than him, but was also agile enough to get past players on the ball.

But more importantly, he defied the odds - when it looked like he would be another signing to fill up the numbers he proved us all wrong. And the odds were truly against him - he is the first footballer from his town to ever play in La Liga - something that the Mairena town council honored by naming its local football stadium after him.

Two years later and with 10 goals and 3 assists not enough to save Rayo Vallecano, Jozabed was on his way to join Championship side Fulham in the summer of 2016. However, limited appearances meant an immediate loan move to La Liga side Celta Vigo in January 2017, where impressive performances have led to a permanent move that summer, and a place in the starting eleven.

At the age of just 26, he is now a La Liga starter - and perhaps his dizzying rise still isn't over yet.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Non-league Incider: Cray Valley Paper Mills 4-4 Punjab United Gravesend

Last game: 9th August: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers
After ripping up my groundhopping calendar, mostly because I was determined to avoid overnight travel, and partly due to other commitments, there was a period of time where non-league football took a backseat.
But that period did not last long. Because of course it didn't.

Secretly, I'd loved travelling over ten hours back-and-forth to watch some 10th division football. And this was 9th division football in London.
When I had gone to East Dulwich exactly a week back, I had commented on how the amount of graffiti struck me as I watched from on board a southeastern train. I was going the exact same way, but much further this time - then I had stopped at Denmark Hill, now I would have to go six stations further. The graffiti I had thought was so emblematic of south London quickly disappeared, as did the tall buildings desperately cluttered together. We, and by we I mean me, were going to the suburbs. The stations be…

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.


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 t…

Fuenlabrada - the mighty challengers: Part 2; aka Juan Quero - the roller-coaster (15th October, 2017)

In just a few months, Fuenlabrada have competed for promotion to the Segunda, signed a center-back from a La Liga side, and will now be playing Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

This is part 2 of a series about Fuenlabrada, the mighty challengers to Real Madrid, who they play in the cup on the 26th of October.

You can read part 1 here.



He was short. Very short. At 5'3", the left winger sometimes played in an over-sized shirt.

The ball never left his feet. His feet were tiny but they had magic. A dizzying array of body feints, close control, direction changes and sheer speed, often resembling a roller-coaster, left opposition defenders outwitted. And yes - sometimes, he frustrated. Sometimes, he was irregular.

But when he turned up, the world was at his feet.

If Juan Quero plays against Real Madrid he'll be playing against the club that let him go. The club that didn't think he had it in him to become a La Liga player.

The club that was wrong. Very, very wrong - he went fr…