Now, I guess that bold opening statement grabbed your attention.
Nah, just kidding. Legends rock. Especially football legends. And Valencia CF and Levante are lucky enough to be able to consider players such as Albelda or Ballesteros some of the greatest men that have honed their shirt. People that have a symbolic quality inherently attached to their backs. When they speak, everyone listens. Even while surrounded by 40.000 angry fans when playing away. Legends never disappoint, and they achieve their status by always living up to their name.
Unfortunately, Valencian clubs have seemingly agreed to compete with each other in order to find out who can give the most clumsy and awkward goodbye to their legendary players. Levante has kicked around Ballesteros’ reputation and it can be argued that they are forcing him into retirement. The rumours about his involvement in a rigged game –Levante-Deportivo, an accusation that has yet to be proved and where evidence is non-existent to this day- are to be blamed. Albelda, meanwhile, has been told that newcomer manager Miroslav Djukic doesn’t want him in this season’s roster. “Technical decision”, that’s the official claim.
And they’re gone. Stunningly quickly if we consider how important those two players are for their respective crowds. No tribute game, no homage. Absolutely nothing. If there was a scale where ‘savoir faire’ and grace could be measured, both Valencia and Levante would fail miserably. Both teams and their presidents have been bold, blunt and a tad disrespectful in this matter.
Fans can get mad about this and pout and scream and point fingers. They will be right about their claims. Or they can suck it up and call it a day. Move on. And pay their respects in silence while their teams insist on destroying the legacy that took a hundred years to build. Brick by brick. Legend after legend.
PS. Sorry for the absence of my usual rant last week. Lots of changes and a busy schedule are to blame. I’ll try to catch up with another column next weekend. Cheers!
Paco Polit (@pacopolit)
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