Earlier in the season, I wrote about Jozabed and his success story. Today’s post talks more about the Spaniard himself.
Tears. Everywhere. Rayo have just won but it didn’t matter – Sporting had won too and Rayo were down to the second division. Paco Jémez was in tears, so was most of the Rayo squad. The fans, with the traditional and hopeful "No te abandoné…en Segunda B" to cover for the sobs and sadness. Jozabed? More than anything, he was dejected. His head hung low but not from shame or embarrassment but from bewilderment and confusion.
When times are bad you think about your past decisions. When times are at their worst you think about why those decisions were wrong.
Even if they weren’t.
When Jozabed’s four goals and 12 assists couldn’t prevent Real Jaén’s relegation to the theoretically amateur third-tier of Spanish football, he took the punt and joined Rayo in division one. It was a gamble, a huge one, and no one thought about the signing working out. Now, two years later and with 10 goals and 3 assists not enough to save Rayo Vallecano, Jozabed is on his way to Fulham. The stakes of the gamble are even bigger this time.
The history of Spaniards failing in the Championship is a long and damaging one. Those who succeed are the ones who fit the physicality-type stereotypes associated with the league. The playing style which made Jozabed shine in La Liga is almost the opposite of that – patient buildup play, quick transitions and short passing. But most of all, risk taking. If a ball from deep was needed, it was played. Taking huge risks in attack was normal. In a dizzying display of white and red, Rayo’s players went for it. They ran loads and attacked loads.
And Jozabed thrived – his shots from distance were pinpoint, his corners a real thorn in the side, his passing, both short and long, accurate, and his hard work an example for his teammates to follow. Here he would take a shot, there he was to recover the lost ball. Here to play a pass to the wings and stretch the play, there at the edge of the box, patient, intelligent enough to know exactly where the rebound will be.
He gave everything he had, and his season could not have gone better individually. But he was still dejected. Rayo were down.
Over many seasons, the Sevilla graduate has taken huge risks off the pitch and thrives taking them on it. His move to Fulham is a risk, and a huge one. The stakes are even higher – a lack of a preseason makes things even harder. And I’m not going to sit here and say he will succeed or he won’t. Life isn’t as simple as that.
But here’s what I do know. This is a player who isn’t afraid to shoulder responsibility. This is a player who will take risks, who will work hard, and who will do whatever he can to succeed. He has been in this situation before, and he knows what to do.
This decision wasn’t wrong.
This is a guest post from Sarthak Kumar, who does Spanish football coverage for BarcaBlaugranes.