“We still don’t believe that Riquelme missed that penalty”

Pau Torres is the benchmark for all the children of Vila-real since, after starting as a child in the lower categories of Villarreal, he will defend his team and his city on the pitch and in a Champions League semi-final. The one with the yellow defender is one of those stories that don’t normally happen. It is not easy for a city as small as Vila-real (50,000 inhabitants) to have a home player who can be in the first team and for him to play in a semi-final at this level.

a special situation Which, however, is not the first time it has happened. Just in the 2005-06 seasonthree youngsters from Vila-real were also part of the squad from Villarreal. and like Paul they also reached the semifinals of the Championswhen the team was defeated in the penultimate round by Arsenal. 16 years ago there were three the young people who experienced a situation identical to that of Pau.

Cesar Arzo, Hector Font and Xisco Nadal, the three natives of Vila-real, defended the jersey of the yellow team in that 2005-06 season. 16 years ago, Arzo and Font were on the bench in that match, for what they suffered that fateful penalty missed by Riquelme from the band Xisco Nadal, today team delegate, was not summoned, so he lived it that day as one more follower. The three remember, as if it were yesterday, the moment in which Riquelme took the ball, ready to level the tie with the English.

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The moment of launch

of that day, Arzo remember “the moment of the penalty”, a key moment in the history of Villarreal. “To this day, I still can’t believe I didn’t enter. It was a very big disappointment I thought that Roman would not fail“, He assures. The excentral explains the sensation of injustice that he experienced. “It was hard because during the game we showed that we deserved to go through. It seemed that with that penalty the feeling was that justice was done. But unfortunately it was not like that“, he recalls.

Hector Font He lived it warming up on the band, just a few meters from the penalty spot, waiting to be called to go out on the field. The former Submarino midfielder explains to AS the disappointment of seeing how Riquelme missed that penalty. “He was warming up in the band with Guayre, we saw that he whistled for a penalty and we hugged. I crouched down to get a better look he was sure he would score, but he stopped it. I started to cry, it was a stick,” says Font.

After being 1-0 in London, in the second leg, Clichy brought down José Mari inside the box. It was the 87th minute and if he had scored the game he would go into extra time. But Lehman guessed Riquelme’s pitch.

The third of the young people from Vilarreal who was in that team was Xisco Nadal, current delegate of the team, who experienced it in the stands, as he was not summoned. For Xisco, “the penalty it was a moment of euphoria and disappointment in a few minuteswe live both sides of football”, he explains. In addition, he believes that if he had scored he would have changed history. “We knew that if we scored that penalty the team would have eaten Arsenal“, remember.

The match against Liverpool

Tonight, the team faces an identical challengewith what this entails. All three work at the club. Arzo does it in the quarry; Héctor Font, in the technical secretariat; and Xisco Nadal is the delegate of the first team. Thus, the three live in the first person this other semifinalrecognizing that they do it with a special flavor.

Arzo assures that he does “with many more nerves, since as a player you experience it differently. Now you’re in the stands and I get much more nervous. My hope is that they do what we couldn’t.” In his case, Fontpoints out that this party is “an option, since every match is a story and our tie was like that since we had it close and I think that now we are going to have the same options. The key is to take advantage of it.” Nadalfrom inside the locker room, puts optimism: “It’s not that I believe, it’s that I know we’re going to pass“.