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The true Rayistas - part 2 (5th April, 2017)

On the 14th of March, 2017, I wrote an article called the true Rayistas (read it here), honoring those who stuck with the club from the 2002-03 La Liga to the 2004-05 Segunda B:

We seem to think that footballers form emotional attachment and loyalty to their clubs, but being a professional footballer is a job - and that job is their means of survival. Which is why we celebrate, and revere, and treasure those who genuinely care about the club, put their money where their mouth is and stay on.

They didn't need to. They weren't expected to.  And yet they did.

There is no heroism in it. It damages career prospects, takes a toll on the bank account, and history won't remember much about the club, much less the name.

But there are three more people to honor - those who stayed with the club from 2004 all the way till 2008, when Rayo jumped out of the well and into the Segunda.

The first is Miguel Albiol (yes, Raúl Albiol's older brother), who arrived at Rayo in 2004 after graduating from Valencia, making his La Liga debut at the age of 21, helping Real Murcia to a La Liga promotion in 2003, and a Segunda season with Recre. He played at Rayo for five seasons, playing a staggering 190 league games - a starter in the right side of midfield for all five seasons - scoring 18 league goals. He went on to play for Real Murcia for another six seasons, finally retiring in 2015.

The second is Juan José Collantes, who joined Rayo midway through the 2004-05 season also at the age of 21 after roaming around in Villareal (Juvenil), CD Onda, Palamos CF, and Racing de Santander B. A right winger, he would score 12 goals in the 2007-08 Segunda B, and along with Sergio Pachón (16 goals), Míchel (10 goals) and Piti (7 goals) gave Rayo enough of a creative outlet on the right, acted as a quick, pacey foil for Piti and as a result Rayo were in the Segunda. He would stay till 2010, leaving in January 2011 for Granada, a Segunda B club, and would earn promotion with them that very season. He subsequently stayed in the Segunda, playing for Cartagena (2011-12, ended with relegation), Sabadell (2012-15, also ended with relegation), Alcorcón (2015-Jan 2017) and UCAM Murcia, where he currently plays.

But the third, just like Sergio Segura, is a hero for a very different reason.

The cousin of both Iván and Antonio Amaya, Yuma, or Javier Monsálvez Carazo, was a local - a Vallecano - signed from CD San Cristóbal de los Ángeles. He made his senior debut with Rayo B, and later Rayo, all in the 2004-05 season. After being used sparingly, he had a successful loan stint at Fuenlabrada, but barely played for Rayo subsequently due to injuries.

He is a hero not because he stayed for four years - he's a hero because he stayed for seven. He was there when Rayo were promoted to La Liga in 2011 too.

He loves Rayo so much, he would go on to join Rayo OKC in 2016 after Segunda B shifts at Salamanca (2011-12), Ontinyent (2012-13), and Puerta Bonita (2013-15, relegated to Tercera in 2014). He now plays for Puerto Rico FC in the NASL.

Edit: 16th April, 2017.

Antonio Amaya should also be on this list - his praises were sung in part 3, which you can read here.

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