La Roja: How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The book takes us on a journey through some of the extraordinary characters, classic matches, and brutal controversies that have defined Spanish football from the early days when a few enthusiasts developed their talent kicking a ball on a piece of industrial waste ground, to the emergence of rival giants, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid- the most powerful and successful football clubs in the world- to the Franco regime (that propped up the Madrid team) and democracy (where Barca has ruled), to and a national team that, encompassing all, became the world’s champion.
source of some contentment, if not jubilation. Thus did Aliron make its way from the mines to the soccer field. The game’s Anglo-Saxon roots in the Basque Country had to contend from an early stage with a strong sense of local culture and political identity, as I discovered when visiting this part of Spain over many years. On a return visit to Bilbao early in 2011, I was invited to lunch by the city’s main soccer fan club in a building they owned in the Casco Viejo, or Old Quarter. The so-called
defy gravity, not least with his trademark kick while flying through the air—arms and legs splayed—which earned him the nickname “the Lobster Man.” I was fortunate that I was able to gain some insight into the man and the player from someone who had known El Sami in his early years and had lived long enough to tell me the tale before he died. In 1997 I met El Sami’s longest-living admirer, the former Barca vice president Nicolas Casaus. Aged eighty-four at the time, Casaus shared his memory of
slid off under his body and rolled into the net. The blunder was blamed for Spain’s eventual defeat in a competition it thought it could win. Rather than ponder on such demons, Ramallets recalled the 1950 World Cup and that game with the English. “The tournament wasn’t easy for us. I guess we were not as fit as we should have been, and it was very hot. We ended up in fourth place. But we beat England, who were one of the favorites and who played a fast and attacking style of soccer. The English
Barcelona for his involvement in more than two decades of redevelopment. He had made a fortune out of the unconstrained and unplanned urban growth that had taken place in Catalonia in response to an influx of migrants from other parts of Spain. Núñez was a migrant himself from the Basque Country, the son of a customs officer working for the Spanish state. He managed to get his hands on Catalonia’s great sporting institution by playing the Left against the Right and marketing himself, with the
native UK because of his ease before the cameras, became a popular figure in Barcelona, earning a respectful place in the list of English managers who have graced Spanish soccer with their presence. But it was Cruyff who within a year of Venables’s departure had initiated one of the most exciting and entertaining periods in Spanish club history, taking FC Barcelona to its first-ever European Cup victory against Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992 and winning with the club a further ten domestic and