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 suburbs. The stations be…

Non-league Incider: St Helens Town 3-0 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Last game: 8th August: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

The previous day, I was blown away by my first ever football match experience. Dulwich Hamlet impressed me, but what impressed me more was the journey. The travel to the stadium was just as enjoyable as the football itself.

I had caught the groundhopping bug.

There were no games scheduled for the 9th of August. There was one, near Wigan, and all I had booked earlier was a refundable bus ticket from Manchester Airport leaving at quarter past midnight.

I should have refunded it. This was a mistake. This whole day was a mistake.

I was only slightly hungover from the previous night, but that was nothing compared to this feeling of loss - I couldn't handle the fact that there was a game happening. And I wasn't too far away. Just three hours and a bit. They'll fly by, I thought.

I was in autopilot. Something within me made me get up, grab a bag, and get out the door. This wasn't me. I wasn't travelling - I was …

Jaime Mata - the one that got away (18th January, 2018)

A few months ago, Rayo fans woke up to this:
CONVOCATORIA| 📋 Lista de 1️⃣9️⃣ jugadores para el debut mañana en la #CopaDelRey🏆 #NumanciaMálaga⚽️ #VamosMálaga💙 👉 https://t.co/hlScwtJkhYpic.twitter.com/qFGrdvOnrQ — Málaga CF (@MalagaCF) October 23, 2017
That was a bittersweet moment - pride for a Rayista who was going to succeed at Málaga, but bitterness at the club for letting him go for free and not tying him down early enough.

Midfielder Pablo Clavería slipped through the cracks. He wasn't renewed, and got tired of waiting - a depressingly normal situation for a smaller, cash-strapped club.

This is the story of another player who slipped through.

Like Pablo, he has a powerful shot on him. Unlike Pablo, it's key to his job. The striker made his name in his hometown of Madrid in the Tercera, after rising through the ranks of Galáctico Pegaso. He would play for the reserves in 2007, before playing for the senior team during the 2008-09 campaign.

During the 2009-10 campaign, ec…