It can become the May 2, 2021 in one of those milestones in the history of Espanyol. How was he June 10, 1990. And, curiously, in both cases for the same reason and against the same rival: A promotion to Primera against Málaga. Club de Fútbol now, Club Deportivo 31 years ago. De La Rosaleda, where Alberto Albesa transformed a decisive penalty in the most interminable shootout, to the RCDE Stadium, where the former player has a door in his name (40), passing through Sarrià, in whose neighborhood he runs a cafeteria.

Espanyol Shield / Flag

LaLiga SmartBank

* Data updated as of April 28, 2021

“Every time I walk down the ten minutes I have to the old stadium I get nostalgia“, admits Albesa, who welcomes AS in his establishment, Petit Ca la Flauta, in that little haven of peace between breakfast time and the first menus. Almost as it would be, for Espanyol, to come up with five rounds still to be disputed “The coincidence, with Málaga involved – in this case, Almería and Leganés should also lose their matches for the promotion to be mathematical this Sunday – is enormous. But now the outlook is positive: if you win, you go up now; and if not, it is a matter of time. Ours entailed suffering“, he remarks.

Albesa remembers that 1989-90 “was a very tough season, with many critics, the team did not work out, we got into promotion at the last minute … So with the penalty and promotion we took a terrible weight off our shoulders “, still sighs, after three decades. And he adds that “now it is not given the merit it has because you have been getting used to the idea that you are going to go up, then it was more epic because we risk everything in two games. The thing about the batch was totally agonizing, in his field and with the fans against “.

Coat of Arms / Flag Málaga

LaLiga SmartBank

* Data updated as of April 28, 2021

The one that was central on that June 10 is already located, a red shirt with blue and white horizontal stripes, advertising for the Araña sports store, in a Rose Garden “with very few people from Espanyol, just behind the goal, but who was the one who shouted the most and was heard“. Espanyol had just won the first leg of the promotion in Sarrià, 1-0, and ended with the same result in favor of Malaga in the second leg, after 90 minutes and extra time. And the shootout was dragging on without anyone appearing want to go up. “All the specialists had already fired, so Juanjo (Díaz, the parakeet trainer) asked if anyone was interested in launching the next one, because life was going to us. I saw the companions very hesitant, but I was not afraid“, he assures.

And Albesa took the step forward to execute the maximum penalty that, despite being called that, paradoxically could bring the maximum joys, by returning Espanyol to First. “To those few parakeet fans I greeted them with my hand to reassure them, because I had the conviction that I was going to… And it's not bragging. “No, in fact, it was a purely geometric question:” If I didn't get nervous, it was because I calculated it mathematically: Jaro (Málaga's goalkeeper) is very tall, and I understood that he would guess that he was going to throw it to his right, because I am right-handed, so I thought that if I kicked her down, flat and strong, with her height it was difficult for me to stop her in time“.

“Jaro is very tall, so I thought if he kicked her down, flat and strong …”

No sooner said than done. Neither the legs nor the boots nor the ball disobeyed his brain and Albesa became the hero of the promotion. “No audience it would have cost us more, I think you have to be mentally more prepared, especially at home, because sometimes being yelled at is a way to motivate yourself, “he inevitably compares. As he does with the duties that Espanyol will have when he returns to the First Division, with the voice of the experience of someone who would live again just three years after another decline start again.

“The good thing that Espanyol has done is to keep 80 percent of the team in the Second Division, but next season you have to look for young people. It's very important“highlights.”Camacho had it clear, and for that reason he went up to Lardín or Roberto. That gave us an extra freshness, of joy. Espanyol must keep the squad but look for new and good players, because with the current team we can have problems“, he warns.

“Espanyol must keep the squad but look for new and good players, with the current team we can have problems”

And, speaking of penalties, Albesa relativizes the streak of three in a row missed by Raúl de Tomás, or that he gave it to Adrián Embarba against Almería. And remember another Panenka pitch that he suffered as a player: Igor Korneiev's against Burgos, in El Plantío, in 1993. “We wanted to kill him. We were 0-0 when he failed, we ended up losing and started a streak of fatal outcome, “he still laments today.

And, while he is returning behind the bar, Albesa – who began his sporting career in the lower categories of Barcelona – explains that “at Barça you are one more, a number, while Espanyol is like a family“, and for that reason now everyone in the family are parakeet partners. Who long to return to Cornellà-El Prat as soon as possible.”Hopefully LaLiga and the authorities will let us congratulate the team, even in the last two days“, adventure. It will be after another promotion, with other heroes, although not as epic as his in 1990.


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