Holds Enric Gonzalez, who knows as much from reflecting and writing as from living far from home, that being from Espanyol is “a matter of faith”. And I would give to explain not only that the parakeet club has exceeded 120 years of life in the shadow of a giant like Barcelona, but even that footballers closely linked to the Barça religion have ended up not only wearing blue and white but also becoming the Espanyol creed. Even reaching the captaincy and idolatry. Sergi gomez, formed at La Masia and declared culé has gone on to talk about “the wonderful blue and white shirt”, is the last to take the path of the converts.
Recent and significant was the case of Sergio garcia, capable of going from top scorer of the Barcelona quarry (969 goals!) to top scorer at RCDE Stadium. From promise at the Camp Nou to the symbol of a Espanyol who chanted his name and who still admires him. “As a child I was from Barça, but now I don't change Espanyol for anything in the world“was one of his many declarations of love to the parakeet club, in which he proudly wore the bracelet. So did his inseparable Joan Verdú, with whom he had shared years of training in Barça youth football. OR Victor Sanchez, whose children are staunch parrots and who is part of the 'top ten' of players who have played the most games in the First Division with Espanyol.
At the football level of Sergio García, he also performed more as a blue and white than a azulgrana –and that was the great pearl of the mid-nineties at Can Barça– the tremendously talented Ivan de la Peña, a fundamental member of one of the best Espanyol in history, who won the 2006 Copa del Rey and reached the UEFA Cup final the following year, with another striking name as the undisputed starter: the current sports director, Francisco Joaquin Perez Rufete. And he is not the only one in the now template, which in addition to Sergi Gómez has Oier Olazábal, teammate of the central in Barcelona B of Luis Enrique and Eusebio Sacristán, in addition to Fran Merida.
Another Cup, the one of 2000, they conquered Toni Velamazán –Three months later, Olympic silver–, Nando Muñoz, Cristóbal Parralo and Roger Garcíawhose brother Oscar I would end up accompanying him. Not in vain, so far this century – or shortly before, as Sebastian Herrera– The players from the Barça past who ended up at Espanyol were very numerous: Dani García Lara, Jofre Mateu, Simao Sabrosa, Abraham González –Who also wore the parakeet bracelet–, Jordi Cruyff…
But not only did the son of a Barça legend wear blue and white, but another of the legends in Barça history did it personally: Ladislao Kubala. The Hungarian, who signed out of spite for a Barça who had fired him as coach and did not allow him to take off his boots, left a season (1963-64) of enormous class in Sarrià and a crucial goal to avoid relegation, against Sporting de Gijón. Likewise, by changing the grass for the bench, he would be a key piece in the hiring of another football colossus, Alfredo di Stéfano.
A compatriot from Kubala, Zoltan czibor, had traced the same path shortly before, in 1961, after Barça lost in Bern the final of the European Cup, that of the square posts, against Benfica of the equally Magyar Bela Guttman. Another victim in the Barça purge after that debacle, Justo TejadaHe would end up at Espanyol with Kubala, after passing through Madrid, and playing for two different clubs alongside Di Stéfano. Just after hanging up his boots, the Argentine, who landed in Sarrià was Cayetano Ré, ultimately one of the famous Five dolphins.
And, between the 60s and 2000s, there was also a charismatic culé in another of the most memorable passages in blue and white history: the UEFA Cup 1987-88. Is about Angel 'Pichi' Alonso, who had already participated with a goal in the legendary win against Milan by Arrigo Sacchi, in Lecce (0-2), but who entered the parakeet club's books forever thanks to his goal against Bruges in the 119th minute of the Extra time, in the semifinal round. The target that classified Espanyol for a final that should never have lost.
The return path
The Leverkusen drama provided the other side of the coin, Espanyol players who have finished at Barcelona. Then they were Ernesto Valverde Y Miquel Soler. Before it had happened with Martial Pina or Javier Urruticoechea 'Urruti'. And then with Xavi Escaich, Igor Korneiev or Philippe Coutinho. Even in the first decades of the 21st century they did Santiago Massana, Martí Vantolrà or José Padrón.
But the path of the converts in the direction of Barça – forgetting here the countless homegrown players who change colors every summer – has never been so solid. It is demonstrated by those who drew the back and forth path, from Urbano Ortega to authentic myths of espanyolismo, like the very Ricardo Zamora and José Cano 'Canito', the latter capable of showing even when he was a member of Barcelona –and he wore an Espanyol shirt underneath– that, indeed, the faith of being a parakeet moves mountains.