El Centrocampista



By David Smith

The beautiful art form of football exhibited by the Spanish national side is increasingly becoming the most sought-after style of play in the football world.

Honed on the training pitches of Barcelona’s famed  La Masia acadamy, the short pass-and-move style has it’s roots in the Dutch ‘Total Football’ of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff.

The template has been exported outside Spanish borders now, and he even found it’s way into the English lower leagues.

As seen in Part one, Roberto Martinez has created teams at Swansea City and Wigan Athletic that are comfortable on the ball, and pleasing on the eye.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s manager Gus Poyet (A Uruguayan) is also keen admirer of ‘tiki-taka’ football.

The Seagulls won the English League one crown after a year of playing this very Latin style of football and have had much the same success in the Championship so far this season.

Gus Poyet has brought the beautiful game to Brighton.

Spanish influence, however, has not just had an effect on the style of football played in English leagues but also the purchase of individual players.

Transfer deadline day for English clubs was last week (31st August 2011) and one of the most high profile signings however has slipped under the radar somewhat.

Vicente Rodríguez of Valencia signed a one year contract with Gus Poyets Brighton and Hove Albion.

This is widely considered by Brighton fans to be the clubs biggest ever signing.

The high profile winger choose brighton above many clubs from the Premiership and La Liga, which just goes to show the strength of the current second division in England.

Vicente has been capped 38 times for Spain and has played at every level of the Spanish set up, from under 16 to senior level.

He has made over 300 appearances for Valencia representing the club in La Liga, both the Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions along with domestic cup appearances.

Vicente is universally loved by the Che supporters; so it is easy to see why Brighton fans are so excited by their new arrival.

Vicente has been a Valencia fan from childhood and started his career with neighbours Levante making his debut on 23 November 1997 at the tender age of just 16.

Such was his skill and age that he soon attracted the attention of Arsenal and Real Madrid but choose to sign for his hometown club instead in 2000.

He led the club to their first league title in over 30 years and had arguably his best season during 2003–04 winning the clubs second La Liga title under Benítez, along with the UEFA Cup.

After this Vicente and Valencia turned down offers in excess of €30 million from Real Madrid and Premier League Clubs.

Injury problems caused frustration after frustration after such a glorious season but when in 2008–09 Vicente was able to contribute regularly, he kept out young Juan Manuel Mata.

However, at the age of 29 he was let go by Valencia after over 10 years at the club.

Valencia’s loss has been Brighton’s gain.

But this is much a gain for the Championship and the English football league as a whole.

The influence that Spanish football has had on the way football is played in England is profound, and the more this manifestation occurs the more Spanish player will emerge, not just in the Premier League, but right throughout the Football League.

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