Skip to main content

The story of three defensive midfielders whose careers are connected: Part 2 - Javi Fuego (10th December, 2017)

From part 1:

"Javi Fuego was the talk of the town. He was the Segunda star, and La Liga teams were knocking on the door...

The Asturias native started playing professional football for Sporting Gijón, representing the local side during six second division seasons (2001-07) and being first-choice between 2004 to 2007.

There was a line in the article above that summed up the whole thing - "Both operations were carried out simultaneously". As soon as Levante had agreed the 853,000 euro deal, Sporting had agreed on the Sergio Matabuena deal.

Javi Fuego would later go on to leave the squad upon relegation and serious financial problems, and in August 2008, he signed a three-year deal worth €140,000 with Recreativo de Huelva, appearing regularly as a starter during two years but being relegated from the top flight in his first.

During those 3 seasons, between 2008-11, something was happening at Rayo Vallecano."



In a dizzying array of red and white, spurred by the battle cries and fervent arm movements of Pepe Mel, a 45 year old bespectacled former striker, newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano were punching well above their weight.

The club that was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy, that couldn't pay its players and whose fan base actively hated the owners had a men's team that had just been promoted from the semi-professional third tier and was outside the top ten for just two jornadas, and a women's team that was winning the league.

In the 2008-09 season, at the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, there was a team, plucky, beautiful, and aggressive. And it was winning.

When Chelsea took N'Golo Kanté, the cog that kept Leicester City together, there was a sense of déjà vu for me. It was a reminder of what had happened to my club.

The parallels were all too real.

They had Danny Drinkwater - we had 33-year-old club legend and pass master Míchel. They had Christian Fuchs and we had 39-year-old left-back Carles Llorens. They had Kasper Schmeichel and we had David Cobeño. They had Kevin Albrighton and we had Jofre. They had Riyad Mahrez and we had Miguel Albiol.

They had N'Golo Kanté, and we had Mohamed Diamé.

There are priceless players, and then there was Mohamed Diamé. The season after, Pepe Mel was sacked midway as Rayo forgot to do with Diamé what Leicester forgot to do with Kanté - adequately replace him - and Rayo finished a dismal 11th.

In 2010, Rayo did what they should have done a season earlier, and brought in a tough-tackling, all-action midfielder in Javi Fuego, and Rayo were promoted to La Liga after an eight year absence. He would go on to play two more seasons at the club, and became a fan favorite.



And not just because of his dedication on the field. What makes modern football so beautiful is that some - few, but some - players love the game, or love a particular club, and stay for a reason other than the paycheck - like Javi Fuego rejecting a 800,000 euro move to Club Brugge in January 2012 because he loved playing at a club that couldn't even pay its players.

But it was clear that Javi Fuego's ability deserved to be expressed at a bigger club. In late 2012, as his contract with Rayo descended into its final stages, everyone wanted him. And I do mean everyone. Míchel and Monchi at Sevilla said he was perfect for the club. Swansea sent negotiators to Rayo and even asked Michu for his opinion. Werder Bremen sent scouts to Rayo's game against Málaga. Hoffenheim stepped up interest after Boris Vukčević's car accident. Sampdoria wanted him because their scout, Igor Charalambopoulos, was part of De Biasi's technical team when De Biasi was Levante's manager in the 2007-08 season - Javi Fuego played for Levante that season.

And even Club Brugge wanted him. Even Club Brugge! Despite the fact that he had publicly rejected a 800,000 euro move to Club Brugge in January 2012. And this time, the arrival of Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido in November 2012 could be used as a sweetener.

The clubs that were chasing a Rayo player - a point of pride for any Rayo player or fan

In the end, Valencia signed the player on a pre-contract in January 2013 for three seasons, and last summer signed for Espnayol.

Even at the age of 33, he is still going strong.

Watch out for part 3 tomorrow, which is on Raúl Baena.

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 suburb

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 - s ometimes, 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,

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 off