Like the rest of sports competitions, the League has been affected by its development and for the first time since the start of the Civil War it is suspended due to extra-soccer criteria. The national star competition is an undoubted economic and social engine and an inexhaustible source of joyous, inconsequential, exciting or dramatic news that polarizes the attention of fans week by week. Today we remember the most shocking, some for their sporting scope and others, unfortunately, for their terrible consequences.
The shock: On March 1, 1981, a note found by the police announced the kidnapping of Barcelona player Enrique Castro Quini.
What happened: Not even a week had passed since 23-F and while the country tried to return to normality, another news shook Spanish society: Enrique Castro Quini, one of the best-known and most loved soccer players, had been kidnapped from Spain.
Just a couple of hours after scoring two goals for Hercules at the Camp Nou, Quini was held by three strangers at gunpoint and put in a van. His wife, who was waiting for him the next day at the airport, reported her disappearance, surprised by her absence. Days later a call demanded the deposit of one hundred million pesetas in an account in Switzerland for his release. Alexanco, Barcelona teammate, was in charge of the negotiation.
The mood of the Barcelona players caused him to lose the next two games. The club had considered postponing them, but a letter from the player’s wife dissuaded them.
After paying the ransom, the police tracked the money and on March 25 Quini was released. He had been held in the basement of a Zaragoza car workshop by three unemployed, unprofessional kidnappers with whom the player watched games during the running of the bulls and who bought him snacks at a nearby bar. Upon arrival at the General Directorate of the Barcelona Police, two thousand people sang the Asturias Patria Querida to him. The images of the very thin, emaciated and bearded player shocked the Spanish. The Asturian was a particularly affable player off the field of play and very popular. A year earlier, he had become one of the most expensive players in the history of Spanish football after Barcelona had paid more than eighty million pesetas for him.
Quini passed away in February 2018 due to a heart attack.
The shock: On the last day of the market, Barcelona snatched Deportivo de La Coruña their best player.
What happened: On August 14, 1997, Depor held their Teresa Herrera Tournament and dazzled with a spectacular midfield formed by Flávio Conceição, Djalminha and Rivaldo, three Brazilians in a state of grace that sparked the predatory hunger of the rest of the clubs. A thousand kilometers away, a gray Barcelona created doubts after each preseason game while still crying for the farewell of its great star, Ronaldo, who had left the club for Inter Milan.
Precisely the millionaire paid by the Italians allowed Barcelona to pay the Brazilian’s termination clause on the last day of the market: 4,000 million pesetas, the largest outlay by a Spanish team to date. And it had been at the worst moment: despite having their coffers full, the Depor did not have time to make a transfer at the level of the one that had left, among other reasons because there were few players of its stature.
Deportivo saw its midfield and pride damaged: the Galician club could rub shoulders with historically large teams, but could not fight their millions. The idol of Riazor went out the back door, at the last minute and without warning, after consulting with his friend Mauro Silva and his wife. Lendoiro, wounded, threatened to sign Ronaldo, while Barcelona president Joan Gaspart replied coolly: “They don’t even have a boot.” The dearest became the most hated and the Rivaldazo it continues in the minds of all fans every time that the market closes at midnight.
The criminal entrance that almost retired Maradona
The shock: Andoni Goikoetxea launches himself against Diego Armando Maradona’s ankle and for a few seconds the world of soccer holds its breath.
What happened: It was not the first time that Andoni Goikoetxea (Vizcaya, 1956) overstepped. A year earlier, the forceful Basque defender had already left Schuster offside for almost the entire season and this time his victim was the most famous player in the world and one of the greatest in history: Diego Armando Maradona (Argentina, 1960 ). On September 24, 1983 and with Barcelona-Athletic de Bilbao almost sentenced – he would finish 4-0 -, he threw himself against the Argentinean left ankle without the option of playing the ball. Unable to stop the most unbalanced striker in the competition, he chose to invoke the mantra of defenders more loggers: “The ball passes, but the player does not pass.”
Maradona’s gestures of pain shocked all fans, but ultimately the injury was less far-reaching than feared. After leaving the field on a stretcher, he was operated immediately and reappeared three and a half months later. The Basque, who despite the brutal entry did not even see the card on the field, received a sanction of 18 games that, under pressure from his club, was reduced to seven.
The shock: Figo, captain of Barcelona, ended up in the eternal rival after the victory of Florentino Pérez in the elections for the presidency of Real Madrid.
What happened: “No one had paid 60 million euros in 2000. I convinced him but it was not easy, he was the captain of Barcelona. As Valdano said: ‘It was like ripping the heart of our countrymen “. This is how Florentino Pérez (Madrid, 1947) described the signing of Figo (Portugal, 1972) in Fox Sport in 2010. It was the first time that Florentino had a coup -Zidane, Beckham and Ronaldo would come later-, but none had such a profound psychological effect. Florentino appeared at the Real Madrid elections offering the apparently impossible: signing a player who not only offered imbalance on the right wing, would also profoundly destabilize his great rival. Figo was the team captain and at the same time a deeply embedded guy in the barcelonismo, a locker room leader who a few months ago shouted exultantly: “Whites, crybaby, congratulate the champions!” after winning the league title.
When Figo accepted Florentino’s proposal, he probably thought that the constructor would have no chance of beating Lorenzo Sanz and that paper signed by his representative would only serve to signal his team and get a contract upgrade. But Florentino won and the Portuguese could not back down. The presentation of Luis Filipe Madeira Caeiro as a Real Madrid player was a hard drink for the Catalans fans who sent him ostracizing the club’s history. On his return to the Camp Nou, he was greeted with a 110 decibel whistle and the launch of a pig’s head, an image that remains iconic almost twenty years later.
Sevilla and Celta, to the second division
The shock: Two of the great teams in the competition were relegated by economic criteria.
What happened: Contrary to what is usual in all summers, in 1995 what polarized the attention of the sports media were not the signings, but the downgrading of two historical clubs, Seville and Celta, which did not lose their place in the First Division for his position in the classification, but for financial reasons. The lack of an endorsement that was detailed in the Sports Law, of 85 million pesetas by Sevilla and 45 by Celta, took the two historicals to the Second Division B and returned the descendants Valladolid and Albacete to the highest category .
Desolate and incredulous – that year Sevilla was classified for the Uefa – Sevilla fans took to the streets and on August 2 more than 30,000 fans toured the city to ask that they stay in the top flight.
In Vigo the same scene was repeated and the pressure of the social mass forced La Liga to back down. But then it was the fans from Valladolid and Albacete who put the scream in the sky, which caused both this edition and the next to participate in the First Twenty-two teams.
Other clubs were not so lucky: Oviedo, who came to play in Europe, was relegated to the Third Division due to complaints from their players. For others like Salamanca, the administrative decline meant its dissolution.
The tragedy of Sarrià
The shock: After an uncontrolled launch of flares, a thirteen-year-old boy died in the field of Spanish.
What happened: On March 15, 1992 little Guillermo Alfonso Lázaro was attending the Sarrià field for the first time to see his favorite team. Guillermo, thirteen years old, his brother, ten, and his parents did not usually stay in Barcelona on weekends, but that Sunday the regional elections were held in Catalonia and after going to vote they decided to do something as a family. They went to Sarrià and were placed in the standing amphitheater, an area of the field far from the crowds where they expected to watch the game quietly. But the danger came in the most unexpected way. That Spanish-Cádiz was to go down in history for a reason that had nothing to do with football.
A couple of minutes before the game started, Joaquín, Guillermo’s father, was taking photos of the stadium when the screams of his wife and an intense smoke made him focus on his eldest son, who had a smoking sparkler stuck in his chest . He didn’t hesitate, grabbed the flare and tried to rip it off. Two minutes later, the stretcher-bearers from Sarrià had evacuated them. Fifteen minutes later Guillermo passed away at the Barcelona Clinic.
Franco Vila, the person responsible for the launch, had also attended the stadium with his two children. Hidden in his clothes he wore five flares, banned after one of them caused the death of Cádiz fan Luis Montero Domínguez in 1985 during a Cádiz-Castellón.
Vila was sentenced to six months in prison for a crime of reckless recklessness and the Spaniard was fined 42 million pesetas as a subsidiary civilian. Although it is incredible, the game was played equally and ended with victory for Spanish. Pizo Gómez, author of the third local goal, declared: “It has been the saddest goal of my life.”
The shock: Deportivo lost the title of league champion in the last minute of the last game of the season.
What happened: The 93-94 league was about to end a decade of hegemony of Real Madrid and Barcelona and crown a newcomer to the elite of Spanish football. A small team that fans had fallen in love with for their game and their self-confidence. But the intense final minute of that season seemed designed by the best screenwriter.
In the last game of the season, Deportivo came with one point ahead of Barcelona and only depended on himself to take the championship for the first time. Opposite, a Valencia that was not risking anything, but who, according to bad language, had received a large sum of money – the famous briefcases – for leaving their skin on the field.
In the last minute and with 0-0 on the scoreboard, the referee blew a clamorous penalty from Serer to Nando. The hobby sportsman celebrated the victory while Serbian Miroslav Đukić (Serbia, 1966) headed for the area defended by González, Valencia’s substitute goalkeeper. The solid Serbian defense did not hesitate, he felt in a state of grace and took responsibility. He launched and … González stopped. The shot had been soft and predictable and the Valencia goalkeeper had reacted as if the Champions League final was being played, as did the entire team. Super Depor had been occupying the lead since day fourteen, which had started as the anecdote of the championship, ended up being a solvent leader who only faltered in the final stretch. After the whistle, Djukic collapsed, all sportsmen they did it. Almost the entire country, except for the Catalans fans, was deeply disappointed. After so many years it was refreshing for a newcomer to the elite to win the title. But Barcelona had done its part, defeated Sevilla 5-2 and had taken another unexpected league in the last minute. Depor won the league five years later, but Đukić did not shoot a penalty again.
The murder of Aitor Zabaleta
The shock: The Real Sociedad fan died after being stabbed by an Atlético de Madrid ultra.
What happened: On December 8, 1998, Aitor Zabaleta and his girlfriend traveled with their Real Sociedad supporters to Madrid to witness their club’s match against Atlético de Madrid. Before the meeting, they went to a bar near the Calderón that a police officer, El Alegre, recommended. Despite the fact that Zabaleta did not wear any symbol of the San Sebastian team – his girlfriend was wearing a scarf – a group of Atlético fans rushed at them. The fight increased in intensity and the Real fans left the venue, but Zabaleta lagged behind. Something that took advantage of Ricardo Guerra, 24, who stabbed him in the heart.
His girlfriend described his last minutes during the trial: “We thought it had been in the arm, unimportant, but soon after he sat in a Municipal Police van and his face began to turn white. He fell on me and said: ‘Vero, I’m dying.’ Then an ambulance came and I never saw him again. “
Zabaleta died hours later at the Jiménez Díaz y Guerra Foundation and was arrested hours later. In April 2000, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for murder. “The stab was delivered suddenly, surprisingly and unexpectedly, which prevented any possibility of defense for the victim,” they specified to add the aggravation of treachery.
In 2018 Ricardo Guerra was arrested again, this time in Belgium and for performing the Nazi salute.
The death of Antonio Puerta
The shock: Sevilla player Antonio Puerta was fading on the field in front of millions of spectators.
What happened: On the first day of the 2007-2008 league, Sevilla’s league debut was followed with expectation: the previous year it had won three titles and was one of the teams to beat in the competition. But what made the headlines that night was no watermark of its stars.
After half an hour of play and when Getafe had already gone ahead, Antonio Puerta, Sevilla’s left back, collapsed on the ground, rose again and fell again. The player left his own foot from the field, but in the locker room he vanished five more times. Coach Juande Ramos replaced him and the match ended 4-1. The fans went home happy for the result, but worried about a player from the youth team who, in addition to the first team, had made a place for himself in the national team.
After a few hours of uncertainty, it was revealed that he was in the ICU with assisted breathing. Three days later, he died at the Virgen del Rocío Hospital in Seville. Sevilla, who at that time were in Greece to play a friendly, returned immediately. The club was devastated and the fans too. Even the Betis signed peace with their eternal rivals and accompanied them in their pain. The Seville defender was about to become a father. His girlfriend was six months pregnant.
In 2009 the Spaniard Dani Jarque died in identical circumstances in Italy, at the concentration hotel (he was not making any effort). Other players like De la Red and Casillas were luckier and, although they couldn’t continue their sports careers, they did come out of similar dramatic episodes alive.
The pitched battle of the Manzanares
The shock: After a massive fight on the banks of the Manzanares, a Galician fan died after being beaten.
What happened: Until November 30, 2014, the images of fans meeting to be spanked were part of the crazy news that closed the news. They were generally stocky Russians and drunk on vodka. But that Sunday morning, those fans were Galician and Madrid fans and they were not fanning in the middle of the tundra but on the banks of the Manzanares, in Madrid. Some, the Riazor Blues, of the extreme left, others, the Athletic Front, linked to the extreme right, had been via WhatsApp before the meeting that their teams would play at twelve noon and came to the meeting armed with batons, bats, flares , American knives and fists. The brutality of the fight was reflected in the mobile recordings of dozens of overwhelmed passers-by. Two ultras from Depor were beaten and thrown into the river. One came out alive; the other does not.
Francisco Javier Romero Taboada, “Jimmy”, a 41-year-old from A Coruña, father of a child and a member of the most violent faction of the Blues, died in hospital shortly after being rescued from traumatic brain injury.
Since Jimmy’s death, measures were taken to control ultras in stadiums and millionaire economic sanctions for violent people, but also for those who instigate, protect or host them in their clubs.
Real Madrid’s hell from Tenerife
The shock: Real Madrid lost the League again in the last game, against the same rival and on the same stage.
What happened: When Real Madrid supporters saw the League 92-93 schedule, they raised their eyebrows. Chance had wanted them to face the same rival on the last day and in the same field where a year earlier they had seen their league title fly. On June 7, 1992, Madrid had arrived as a leader full of hope to Heliodoro Rodríguez. It did not seem like a complicated game because the opponent was not playing anything. Madrid depended on itself and within half an hour they already had a two-goal lead. The meringues were heading to Cibeles, but then Tenerife shortened distances. The tie was the work of Madrid in their own goal and, to top off the rosary of disasters, an incomprehensible loan from the historic Sanchís when the team was already a flan allowed Pier to give the league to a Barcelona that had done its job against Athletic de Bilbao.
So a year later that coincidence seemed like a prank. The madridistas had not forgotten Míchel’s tears of helplessness and there were Barça and Madrid again arriving even on the last day. Again Madrid depended on itself: they only had to beat their Nemesis from the previous season and again the Valdano team, a former Real Madrid player and future coach and sports director of the Whites, provided them with the most bitter of punishments. Madrid played gripped by fear and after ten minutes Dertycia put the first nail in the white coffin. The 2-0 came before the break and from there Madrid tried everything, but even they already believed in the curse of Tenerife. Meanwhile, Barcelona was completing its process and once again received an unexpected gift. The images of a sunken Míchel being consoled by Quique Estebaranz were featured on the sports media the next day, a day in which all Madrid fans expected to be celebrating the rematch.