“When I saw Albesa cheer on the fans, I knew I would mark him”

It is 30 years since promotion in Malaga with that tachycardia penalty shootout. How do you remember?

They were very intense emotions. Our result in the first leg was too short, and we knew we would have to suffer. Anything could happen. Jaro was about to eliminate us, but the shot escaped him. And Albesa took us to Primera.

And you were a substitute …

I was very young. Juanjo Díaz told me it was a game for people with experience, that's why he didn't call me. The problem is that when we got to the penalty shootout, he came up to me and said, 'You shoot the third one.' But wasn't it a game for veterans?

And dialed. What was most impressed on you?

The image of Albesa when he goes towards the penalty spot. He runs, looking at the fans and raising his arm. There I thought I was going to put it. He was very confident. He was not a specialist, but he was convinced.

It was not his first season at Espanyol, he already experienced the decline after the UEFA year…

The first 13 games I played with Hospitalet and then at the end of the first round I had to debut in Valencia. I already stayed at Espanyol. It was a tough year with the removal of Clemente, the triumvirate … A very difficult year. We live games of tension, I had to suffer a first year with a lot of pressure.

The second goalscorer of the 90s

Xavi Escaich debuted at Espanyol in 1988-89 seasonjust one year after the lost UEFA final in Leverkusen on penalties. That course failed to help Espanyol maintain the category. The Second division earned him to settle in the first team, and later played three seasons in Primera in which he scored 30 goals, scoring 10 and 12 in the campaigns 91-92 and 92-93. He is the second top scorer in Primera with the Blue and Whites' shirt in the 90's, only surpassed by Jordi Lardín, who scored 38.

His time at Espanyol attests to this: two declines, one promotion, years of dying saves …

It was five years of great sports stress, but the atmosphere in the dressing room was always good despite the constant changes. Like the famous Russians who initially created their group logically but integrated well. Every year we were expectant for the foreign signings to come.

And then, on the second descent, he went to Sporting, where he coincided with Abelardo. How do you remember the current coach of Espanyol there?

Abelardo was an institution in Gijón, an uncle with charisma, a great companion and an excellent person. He was highly sacrificed by the team, regardless of his qualities on the field. I made good friends and he helped me. He is an easygoing person.

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Xavier Escaich and Mauricio Pochettino.

Do you think he is the ideal person to lead Espanyol to salvation?

It is a situation in which practically no team has been saved and the question of how the players will be remains unknown. Perhaps this break has come in handy. They were in a negative line and have been able to reset. And, yes, Abelardo is the ideal person to achieve this.

After that stage in Gijón he returned to Barcelona, ​​to Barça, together with Abelardo. Why did he play so little?

The first year you realize that Barcelona is not just any club. It is no longer because someone demands more of you, but because you find it difficult to adapt. You are surrounded by huge players and you have to digest it. Your time is needed. I understand that some do not adapt.

And the second year Cruyff didn't want him anymore …

It was a shame that Cruyff did not count on me in the second season, because in the preseason I was the team's top scorer, I scored seven goals in one game and then continued scoring in others. At that moment he told me that he would not have a number and that he should find me a team. It was when I felt better and very adapted, playing how I knew. And in training he had the memory of scoring goals and playing well.

At Espanyol he scored 34 goals in 118 games. Good numbers. Do you think that your move to Barcelona prevented you from being remembered more?

When you work in a company that sports that makes you grow, you do not hesitate to leave. You want to progress. Soccer gives you a limited life and you have to take advantage of it. You have to value it. It didn't go well for me, but I had to take risks. Then I played for Espanyol veterans.

Do you think that the forwards are valued now for more things than the goal?

It has not changed so much, they ask for a goal and that is the main thing. Sometimes they are asked for more pressure and work. Griezmann talks about how he works but in the end he has to score goals. You can spend games evaluating the work, but the key is to score goals.

Which partner impressed you the most?

There are many. But the most shocking was Helguera when I played in Albacete. When he came to the first training he would be 17 years old. When we saw him play we said: but what is this? Then he proved it. At Barcelona I loved Eusebio, he made everything very easy.