Football News: A To Z: Espanyol


A To Z: Espanyol
Image from: freelargeimages.com

A To Z – Espanyol

 

A is for Angel

In 1900, Angel Rodriguez set up the Sociedad Espanola de Football, a club keen to play a new that had recently arrived on the Spanish shores from England. He decided to dub it such to differentiate it from the many other football clubs in Barcelona, which mainly featured foreign players.

 

B is for Budgerigars

Periquitos or Budgerigars is one of the nicknames of Espanyol, as well as Blanquiazules, white and blue, and Magico, magical.

 

C is for Cats

The budgerigar nickname actually originated from a depiction of cartoon character Felix the Cat. There is a Catalan expression to refer to a small, insignificant number of people as 4 gats (4 cats). In the 1920s, a satirical magazine called Xut! would use images of four Felix the Cats to refer to Espanyol. Catalan children knew Felix as the ‘budgie cat’ due to his high-pitched voice. Eventually the 4 budgie cats became just budgies.

 

D is for Derbi

El derbi Barceloni is of much more importance to Espanyol and its fans. The rivalry is all the more bitter for them as Espanyol are almost beneath Barcelona’s notice, despite the two clubs being seen as ideological opposites in the region.

 

E is for Esplanade

RCD Espanyol as we know it now started off playing their matches in a big esplanade, near to teh Sagrada Familia. It was home until 1923 when they moved to Sarria Stadium.

 

F is for Four

Despite a lengthy history, Espanyol have not enjoyed anything like the success of their neighbours in the city of Barcelona. Four Spanish Cups, two Spanish Supercups and a Spanish Second Division title are their only major trophies. They have also won the regional Campionat de Catalunya eleven times and the Supercopa de Catalunya once, but their support could never be accused of being glory hunters!

 

G is for Garry

The first ever coach was Scotsman Ted Garry who was in charge from 1922 to 1924. It was his only coaching job in a career that took in Celtic and Derby County among others as a player.

 

H is for Hampden Park

At Hampden Park in Glasgow in 2007, Espanyol became the only team in the history of the UEFA Cup to remain unbeaten in the tournament but not take home the trophy. After winning all their group games and then getting past Livorno, Maccabi Haifa, Benfica and Werder Bremen to reach the final at Hampden, they drew 2-2 with fellow Spaniards Sevilla, only to lose a penalty shootout 3-1.

 

I is for Iglesias

Espanyol record transfer out is forward Borja Iglesias, who was sold to Real Betis for £25.2m in 14th August 2019. They paid just £9m to sign him a year earlier from Celta de Vigo.

 

J is for Jarque

Just six days after the inauguration of their new stadium in 2009, the team were in Italy for some preseason fixtures when club captain Daniel Jarque suffered a cardiac arrest and died aged just 26. Since then at every Espanyol match the 21st minute (his shirt number was 21) is applauded in honour of Jarque.

 

K is for Kubala

In 1999 Hungarian legend Laszlo Kubala was voted Barcelona’s greatest-ever player, beating even the great Johan Cruyff. The forward, who also represented Czechoslovakia, Spain and Catalan in his international career, had retired as a player and took over as head coach of Barca’s first team in November 1961. Unable to win any trophies, Kubala left Barca in 1963 and crossed over to take charge of bitter rivals Espanyol as their player-manager, where he worked alongside another great in Alfredo Di Stefano.

 

L is for Liverpool

After a lengthy process, which began in 2002, Espanyol eventually moved into their brand-new Stadium RCD Espanyol Cornelia-El Prat home in 2009, with its 40,000 capacity. Their first-ever opponents were Liverpool in a friendly match, who the Spaniards beat 3-0, thanks to a goal from Luis Garcia and a brace from Ben Sahar.

 

M is for Mauricio

One of the club’s legends is Mauricio Pochettino, who both played for and managed Espanyol. As a player, the Argentine defender made 320 appearances between 1994 and 2006. In 2009 he returned as a manager, his first coaching job, before leaving in 2012. He has often remarked that he could never work for FC Barcelona due to his Espanyol ties.

 

N is for N’Kono

Arguably the best goalkeeper ever to come from Africa, Cameroon’s Thomas N’Kono made 333 appearances for Espanyol between 1982 and 1990. He played for his country in three World Cups and four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, winning 63 caps. in 2002 he was arrested by Malian police who alleged he was using “black magic” prior to an African Cup of Nations semi-final against Mali, while N’Kono was working as Cameroon’s assistant coach. After he and head coach Winfried Schafer stepped onto the pitch at the 26 March Stadium, N’Kono was dragged onto the running track around the pitch. He was later given an apology from the Malian president.

 

O is for Olympic

In 1997 Espanyol were forced to sell the stadium they had played in since 1923 and move into the Olympic Stadium Lluis Companys. In the 12 seasons they played there they enjoyed possibly their most successful period as they twice won the Spanish Cup, as well as reaching the UEFA Cup final without losing a match en route, only their second time in the final.

 

P is for Prats

On 10th February 1929 Espanyol’s Jose Pitus Prats scored the first goal in the history of the newly formed Spanish Professional Football League, La Liga, in its first ever match, which was played at Sarria. They beat Real Union Irun 3-2.

 

Q is for Querulist

Espanyol have often complained about the coverage by the local Catalan media which is, at best, unfavourable, and sometimes considered to be offensive in regard to Espanyol. Which makes it all the more galling that Barca are so dominant in both the league table and derby games.

 

R is for Reial

King Alfonso XIII bestowed the ‘royal’ title on Espanyol in 1912, when it became Reial Club Deportivo Espanyol, the name it holds today. It is usually shortened to RCD Espanyol, or just Espanyol.

 

S is for Spanish

One of the roots of the bitterness with local rivals Barca is the ideology the two are said to stand for. Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol means Royal Spanish Sports Club of Barcelona and, unlike Barca, they have distanced themselves from calls for Catalan independence. Despite that, it is notable that their name is in Catalan, rather than Spanish, even though, to keep their initials as RCD, they had to use a Catalanised form of Deportivo, rather than the actual Catalan word of Esportiu.

 

T is for Takeover

In January 2016, Chinese businessman Chen Yansheng, with his Rastar Group, bought a 54% stake in Espanyol.

 

U is for University

Espanyol was founded by, and for, university students in the city of Barcelona. That did cause problems a few years later when the majority of the team pursued their studies in other regions of Spain.

 

V is for Vert

Espanyol was the first club in Spain to be formed by Spanish converts to the sport of football. All earlier club clubs were either linked to the British Isles or central Europe.

 

W is for Wu

Chinese winger Wu Lei, the second highest goalscorer in Chinese Super League history and youngest player to have played in Chinese professional football aged 14 years and 287 days, joined Espanyol in 2019. His Espanyol debut was watched by more than 40 million people in China alone.

 

X is for X

After the original club folded in 1906, partly due to financial difficulties and partly because most of their players had enrolled to study at universities outside Catalonia, most of the players joined X Sporting Club. X won the Campionat de Catalunya three times between 1906 and 1908 before being relaunched as Club Deportivo Espanyol in 1909. X had actually been founded in 1902 as Football Club X, In 1903 they took over the pitch FC Irish had been occupying before they disappeared. Oddly the rename to Espanyol also saw X merge with the Spanish Club of Jujitsu.

 

Y is for Yellow

Though white and blue are the club’s normal colours now, the kits were originally yellow. This was simply because one of the first ever season ticket holders gave the club yellow material to make their kit from. They were soon wearing white shirts with blue trousers, until in 1909 they switched to the white and blue striped shirts they still wear today.

 

Z is for Zamora

Goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, ‘El Divino’, is a legend of Espanyol despite also playing for their bitter rivals Barcelona. He was known for wearing a cloth cap and white polo-neck jumper in goal, something that many contemporaries copied. Despite being a legend, controversy was never far away, even getting arrested on the way back from the 1920 Olympic Games for attempting to smuggle Havana cigars into Spain. A couple of years later he was suspended for a year after lying to the tax authorities about the signing fee he received on re-signing for Espanyol.

 

To read the previous A To Z: Leicester City click here.

Written by Tris Burke March 31 2021 06:37:16

 



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