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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However, seeing no opportunities to break into first team football, Jozabed rescinded his contract and joined second-tier Ponferradina in February 2013, leading his club to just a place off the promotion playoffs.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.

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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.

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