Agustín Rodríguez (Marín, Pontevedra, 1959) was in charge of defending Castilla's goal in that mythical Cup final that he played against Real Madrid just 40 years ago. He lost 6-1 after traveling a spectacular path in which he left on the way teams like Hercules, Athletic, Real Sociedad and Sporting.
That Castilla was the only subsidiary in history to reach a Cup final. Years after that feat, the regulations changed and the subsidiaries were prohibited from participating in the competition. Four decades after that meeting, Agustín remembers a game that, as he declared in an interview with EFE, “'papa' had to win.”
That season, 1979/1980, Juanjo García came to the bench to replace Juan Santisteban. What changed with your arrival?
We start with Santisteban. A man of the house, of the national team, with an affable and conservative character. He always induced fear, care for the rival. Juanjo was like a breath of fresh air for the team. He promoted the values that each of us had and the freedom to develop what he saw in us. The game, the quality, the strength to go for the games, try to win anything, have fun to the fullest. I had two coaches who basically changed me a little and made sense of football. They were in Juvenil A and in Castilla. People who trust your possibilities that made you feel important. Juanjo made us feel that. We all played as a team, but as a real team. We all lost and won. Something was achieved that will not be repeated in the history of football. It was lived naturally and Juanjo was important because it was a reel.
When did that season begin, did you imagine that something like this could happen?
No What are your ideas at 19 years old? Enjoy the game. I was in Castilla and came from the children. I was taking steps and I was thinking nothing. It depended on whether they counted on you or not. A good season or not. I wanted to do it right and it depended on many things. It said … Are you going to count on me? Is the team going to be okay? Are we going to be in the middle of the table? Castilla look where he is now, in Segunda B, bringing players from all over the world. Before, almost all of them came from areas of Madrid, some from Toledo, from Albacete. You did not ask yourself anything, you lived daily.
Before the final they passed seven heats. Extremadura, Alcorcón, Racing, Hercules, Athletic, Real and Sporting. What was the most complicated?
All. Hercules, with foreigners, of the First Division, we lost 4-1 in the first leg and 3-0 in the return. First 10,000 people in the field and in the extension they opened the doors and there were 70,000 people; later, Sporting with Ferrero, Quini, Castro, Cundi or Joaquín, national team players. A leading team; Athletic, king of cups with Rojo, Alexanco, Dani, Zúñiga … had an important team; La Real, with Arconada, Satrústegui, Ufarte, Zamora … they had been fighting with Real Madrid for two years and they carried the entire season without losing. We beat them in the tie and then they lost in Seville for Real Madrid to win the League. They were all complicated, they gave away nothing. We could have lost anyone.
As rounds went by, did the first team players tell you something?
They saw us, they congratulated us and as they went through the qualifying rounds they were saying … 'let's see if they leave you at once'. Just as we wanted them to be eliminated in the semifinals against Atlético. We wanted Atlético in the final. It would have been a tie worthy of a final that we could have played as we played other games. Surely, we would have lost her. I spoke with Luis Aragonés on one occasion and he always told me that they did not want to see us, not even in painting.
We wanted Atlético in the final (…) Surely, we would have lost it. I spoke with Luis Aragonés on one occasion and he always told me that they did not want to see us, not even in painting
Why do you say that the final could have been played against Atlético and not against Real Madrid?
Because there was a generational respect that at that time towards the elderly was reverential. It didn't occur to you to kick them. The games we played on Thursdays, if they called a foul, it was a foul and you submissively stepped aside. The game we played against them was not competitive. All the changes that took place during the week were left over, the changes in plans that we did not make against the other teams. Why were there changes? Well, because they decided that there would be.
Luis de Carlos is never spoken of in this story. Did it appear somewhere? Did he say something to them?
No. Directors appeared. The same day of the game, one of the managers came in and I do not remember his name and said to play calmly. I told him what game was played with ease! There was nothing to do. Juanjo and I had discussed it with Pineda and Casemiro: 'We cannot win this match, it goes against nature'.
It didn't occur to you to kick them. The games we played on Thursdays, if they called a foul, it was a foul and you submissively stepped aside. The game we played against them was not competitive
Would it have been ridiculous for the first team to beat them?
No. Get it out of your head. It was impossible to win. When I say impossible, it was impossible. Not that they told us we had to lose, no. It is that in the time in which we lived, in which the elders ruled, there was obedience, you followed the path of the managers and the first team set the guidelines for you. How were you going to beat them? They came out with a push and a tremendous anger. Not against us because we would have done the pounding we did. It was because the praises they gave us for them were sticks. For the people we were a breath of fresh air. A 19-year-old filial team with kids that filled the Bernabéu. Football is an illusion and they saw that you beat teams against which the eldest spent the hard time.
Could the rivals you were playing against underestimate you?
In soccer, underestimating is very difficult. I have experienced many situations in Castilla and then in Primera. You can go out in a more relaxed mood. It can affect positively or negatively. Without tension backpack, you can play better. Or, suddenly, they can go over you. Depends on the circumstances. At the time of the draw, they might want the Segunda team. They might think they had more experience and quality, but they had to face young uncles in the prime of life.
Did you provoke Real Madrid to win that League? Real had not lost throughout the season, you beat them, they were defeated in Seville the following weekend and Real Madrid won the League …
You and I are talking now and I can point out that we were able to give Madrid the double. The Cup was safe and we gave it to the League. Were we important part? Yes.
Which Real Madrid player was more combative in that final?
It was an unusual week. They changed training hours … everything. In the match they were in the European Cup position. To all of them from the locker room, at the exit of the stairs, throughout the match. And we were in 'lamb position'. And I'm sorry. In fact I left the game very angry, I got really pissed off at myself and the whole team.
Then the first team and Castilla took a family photo and you were not …
No, it wasn't.
Was he so angry that he didn't want to leave?
I went straight. I broke the locker room door and showered. My red shirt, which was mine, was not from the club, I threw it right there. Too bad. I have another one, but the one I wore, I threw away. When a goalkeeper gets six goals, he gets screwed. The team is screwed, but the goalkeeper is the one who receives the win.
Many rival fans of Real Madrid call that final as friends and that the Cup was decided. To all those people that you have to tell?
Let's see … the final given away … In a nice report for television they titled it, indeed, it was “the whitest Cup” that Dad had to win. It was that and there is no turning point. It was the easiest Cup for Real Madrid. Competing one hundred percent could be 4-2. Pineda said it the other day: 'The first time I was there, Pirri kicked me and I wondered what he was doing. He was not going to return it … 'Pineda had crushed the defenses of Real, Athletic … or Paco Balin or Cidón. There was nothing to do. It's sad. In my heart, knowing that there was nothing to do, I thought it was going to be a more even game. And so it hurt a lot. It hurt more after two days. We went up to train with the first team Pineda, Gallego and I were greeted by applauding us 6-1 on the scoreboard with Pirri the first saying … 'Take it'. It hurt me a lot. So I did not take the photo.
I went straight. I broke the locker room door and showered. My red shirt, which was mine, was not from the club, I threw it right there. Too bad. I have another one, but the one I wore, I threw it away
Do you think that generation of Castilla was forgotten? Many believe that the final was played by the 'Quinta del Buitre' and there was none. Did you lack marketing?
Real Madrid came from a very strong economic need. In the 1982/83 season, with Luis de Carlos, he reached the 1,000 million budget. There was no money to sign and he kept soccer, basketball and the company. Soccer lived on the partners. We had been losing the League for two years in the last game. We had lost the European Cup. With Di Stéfano we were seconds in everything. I wanted to sign and there was no money. Then Di Stéfano pulled the Fifth and there was a rebound in the press. They were exceptional players. They marked a milestone in the club. If you go that it was not valued, the time of Castilla and Real Madrid from 80 to 85 was never valued playing four European finals and winning two King's Cups and winning a League. It was not until the 97/98 season that a European final was played again. In those years, what Madrid achieved was never valued.
Is that season the one you remember most about your career?
They are times. Memory is part of one's life. The final of the European Cup, the Recopa, the Leagues you win, the ones you lose. Tenerife, the houses with Real Madrid, Tenerife in Europe, my retirement … there are many moments. What do you keep? At Real Madrid they teach you how to win. Finishing second was bullshit. In Tenerife they lost and did not care. He told them that the mentality had to be changed. We got into Europe and when we got it I broke. My life has also been marked by occasional injuries. That Tenerife then made huge seasons in Europe with Redondo, Del Solar, Dertycia … But it is life.
Can you summarize that Cup final in one sentence?
It was not a game. For me the others were broken. For me the final was not a game. It was not an old-fashioned competition match. And he screwed me.