Kings for a day: minutes of glory

Enrique Ortego


Sergio Ramos' 170 international matches or the hundred to which only 13 players have had the privilege of reaching in these 100 years of life, have their counterpoint in those who have only once worn the National Team jersey. Internationals for a day. In some very particular cases, no more than five minutes. An honor that those interested have well engraved in their respective memories and that they value in their fair measure. About a quarter of the footballers who have played for Spain only met that first time. Almost two hundred. The exact number varies depending on the sources and the documentation that is collated. On May 29, 1927, the National Team played two friendlies on the same day. One against Italy in Bologna (1-0) and the other against Portugal in Madrid, at the Stadium (2-0).

Standing, and from left to right, pose Lemmel (masseuse), Carulla, Óscar, Eizaguirre, Perelló, Moraleda, Molina, Polo and Pedro Regueiro. On his knees, and in the same order, Alfonso Martínez (substitute goalkeeper), Garrobé, Gonzalo, Matías, Pablito Calvo and Sagi Barba. The eleven that defeats Portugal at the Madrid Metropolitan Stadium.

At the time both were considered official, but 27 years later, in 1954, the Federation considered that the match against the Portuguese would become part of those classified as Selection B and since then only the one contested in Italy is counted as a match of the absolute , with the consequent damage to all the footballers who had played in what would eventually become known as the Metropolitan stadium. Seven men debuted that day and as in some cases they were not re-selected, their name is not on the official list.

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Once the circumstance has been commented, among the footballers with a single participation are important names with a generous and remarkable career in their respective clubs, but for different reasons they only had that first and last time.

Acuña, goalkeeper for 15 minutes

Especially striking is the case of Juan Acuña, Deportivo goalkeeper between, from 1939 to 1955, whom Ricardo Zamora himself considered his natural replacement. In four seasons he was the least goalscored goalkeeper in the League and yet he only played one game and not even complete. It was at Mestalla, 12-28-1941, against Switzerland (3-2). He entered in the 75th minute replacing Martorell. He was then called up for three more games without playing, before being called up for the 1950 World Cup. It did not open in Brazil. Ignacio Eizaguirre and Ramallets blocked his path.

Zamora and Acuña pose together before a National Team match.

Almost five decades later there is another curious case with a double protagonist: Antonio Álvarez Pérez, Ito and Marcos Vales. Both can perfectly be two of the players with the fewest minutes played in that one time they were international. His casuistry has many points in common. They were both midfielders and were proclaimed European champions that summer with the U21s. Both debuted with Camacho as coach in two consecutive games, Russia and Israel, with a three-week interval, and both replaced Raúl in the last five minutes. A luxury cicerone to welcome them to the Selection.

Ito, with 6, lifts the cup of the European Under-21 Championship after Spain's victory over Greece 1-0 in the Bucharest final. Marcos Vales also won that title.

It does not matter that almost 22 years have passed since that, both Ito and Marcos Valés, in addition to keeping the souvenir shirts, have those exciting moments well in mind. Nothing better than reading his chronicle of events.

Ito was the first. Against Russia in Granada. Camacho's first game as coach. Friendly. 9-23-1998. “I entered in the 86th or 87th minute. Raúl told me to enjoy it and to be myself. Sergi had been sent off in the first half and we were with 10. Camacho and Carcelén told me to control in the middle. The truth is that I touched several balls. Balls always pass through the midfielder position. That season I had arrived at Betis and I was surprised by the call because we had a turbulent summer at the club. There was talk of revolution with the arrival of the new coach. It was impressive. The Almendralejo City Council put a bus for my relatives and those in town who wanted to go.

Ito, to the right of Fernando Hierro, in training with the Selection.

It was a friendly but we won 1-0 with a goal from Alkiza. I played with ‘12’, the one they left me and delighted in life. Then he called me up for the next match in Israel, but I didn't play. And they didn't call me again. I was a little victim of the reality of my team. We were almost last. All year long fighting not to descend with three coaches. Over time I met Camacho in Ibiza and he told me that he wanted to call me but that the situation did not occur. A pity that I could not take advantage of that moment, but those little minutes are no longer taken from me by anyone. ”

Marcos Vales appeared out of nowhere. He had not been called up for the match against Russia, but appeared in the next. Gallego de La Coruña played that season at Zaragoza. Camacho explained his call. “He is playing well and can contribute many things both in the band and in the center.”

The interested party passes balance. “I entered at the last minute. The game was not closed, we won only 2-1 and it is appreciated that even if it was for a few minutes, the coach trusted me. Another in his place would have gotten a more veteran player, but I think he wanted him to debut. I don't remember what Raúl told me, he wished me luck. I remember that the day before we were able to do some tourism and they explained to us how people lived in that country. There were a lot of police and Army near us. From the stadium I have the image of not being very full. There was no atmosphere. Much silence.

I can't complain about just playing four or five minutes. Many professionals with a career longer than mine, including captains in their teams, have not had that opportunity to play even for a day with the national team. Also playing in Zaragoza you do not have as many opportunities as in Madrid or Barça. I keep the shirt. It was 16 ”.

Illustrious of a single day

A review of the long list of players, almost 200, with a single international match presents us with contradictory situations. Men established in their clubs and with a long history did not have their place in the National Team. Aji are the cases of Miera, De Felipe and Serena, European champions with Real Madrid; or Lopetegui himself, who replaced Zubizarreta in the 26th minute of a friendly against Croatia before the 94 World Cup, to which he went as the third goalkeeper without playing.

Ernesto Valverde is also a man of a single encounter. Against Iceland, on October 10, 1990, qualifying for Euro 92. Luis Suárez was the coach and played 20 minutes. Entered by Carlos.

Manchón (Barcelona), Santos (Zaragoza), Landáburu (Barcelona and Atlético), Diego Rodríguez (Betis-Sevilla), Ricardo Arias (Valencia) … are also part of the club's debut and farewell on the same day.

Siverio, 75 'end and 15' goalkeeper

Among the handful of footballers who have only worn the National Team jersey in one game is Silverio Izaguirre Sorzabalbere, (08/31/1897 – 11/18/1935), left winger of Real Sociedad, who is part of the team that plays the Antwerp Olympics. Silveiro is not a starter in the first three games, but he has his chance in the fourth, against Italy (2-9-1920).

Silverio, the last on the right, wearing a beret, poses with the Spanish expedition in Antwerp.

After 78 minutes, Ricardo Zamora was sent off for slapping an opponent, the Italian-Argentine Badini, who had previously kicked him in the knee. The goalkeeper was fed up with the innings made by the Italian forwards and he reacted badly. I was 19 years old. Expelled. Moments of tension. Who gets in the goal? The contingency is not foreseen. And there the Donostiarra appears from the band to accept the challenge.

He acts almost a quarter of an hour as a goalkeeper with the same Zamora jersey and keeps his door to zero and even according to some chronicles he performs a good intervention. The expelled goalkeeper did not leave him alone in the face of danger. Until the end of the game he stood by the goal to advise his partner.

Sesúmaga's two goals, the second just before the aforementioned set, give the pass to Spain, who would play the silver medal against the Netherlands in the next match. Silveiro would no longer play. Neither in Antwerp nor later. In his only meeting with La Roja he fulfilled a double mission: extreme-goalkeeper. It has never happened again.