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Barcelona, May 30 . .- “Fun, attitude, identity, variety and goal”. These are the five virtues that Víctor Valdés announced that Juvenil A of Barcelona would have that he began directing earlier this season. An exciting statement of intent and even more coming from the most successful goalkeeper in club history on his return home.
The hot summer of 2019 was looming and Valdés (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, January 14, 1982) was once again hogging the spotlights that he likes so little. But the lights went out again, two and a half months later: what it took Barça to get fed up with him and he with Barça, in another gray autumn – as metaphorical as it was real – between both parties.
Now, the goalkeeper who never wanted to be a goalkeeper, the star who hates fame, the unparalleled record-winning myth (6 Leagues, 2 King’s Cups, 6 Spanish Super Cups, 3 Champions Leagues, 2 European Super Cups, 2 Club World Cups and 5 Zamoras with Barcelona) returns to the benches to lead the modest Horta, who plays in Group V of the Third Division.
He was able to retire at the club of his life and later become a reference technician at La Masia, but Víctor Valdés never liked the figure of the prodigal son.
His strong personality, his volcanic character and his brutal honesty to always go face to face without paying attention to collateral damage do not fit well with the easements that a mammoth, hyper-dimensioned organization and constantly exposed to public opinion such as Barça forces you.
On his return home, the Catalan exporter withdrew his team from a summer tournament in the Netherlands, publicly complained about not being able to play in the newly opened Johan Cruyff Stadium and wanted to impose the system, the alignment, the methodology and the schedules of the training sessions, as if it were still in Juvenil A del Moratalaz, the team with which, a few months earlier, he had successfully premiered as a coach.
An argument with Patrick Kluivert, who had practically just landed as head of Barcelona’s formative football, precipitated his departure. This time he did not leave without saying goodbye; they threw it out. Or he invited the club, with his demeanor, to make the decision for him.
Already in his stage as a player he announced, in a brief statement sent to the EFE Agency, his decision not to renew for Barcelona a year and a half before the end of his contract and for no apparent reason not to continue being part of the most glorious stage of the history of the Catalan team. He wanted neither farewells, nor recognitions, nor tributes.
The misfortune was fattened with him shortly after, when in a League match against Celta he destroyed his right knee, frustrating his millionaire transfer to Monaco and sending him to a harsh and solitary rehabilitation in cold Augsburg. But he still didn’t change his mind.
Determined to live life in his own way, and after a career end that was not up to his service record, he quietly retired, made his profiles disappear from social networks and one day appeared, almost without warning, in a team from a Madrid neighborhood to train a group of kids from their desired anonymity. Just what he said he would like to do when he hung up the gloves.
And Valdés fully complied. He managed to get those young footballers to sign the season of their lives, achieving the promotion of Moratalaz to the National Youth League champion and also adding the trophy of First Youth champions by defeating the almighty Real Madrid.
Five years after his abrupt goodbye, the ex-goal of L’Hospitalet landed again in the Sports City of Sant Joan Despí to discover something he already knew: that there are loves that kill and that his happiness shines when the lights go out. And that he will never achieve in a club that precisely boasts of being ‘more than a club’, no matter how much his home is.
To the northeast of the Catalan capital, 8 kilometers from the Camp Nou, the municipal field of the Barcelona neighborhood of Horta and a team of Third of those who hardly occupy a brief in sports information await you.
Until now. Because Valdés will have to assume, someday, that legends like him cannot go unnoticed. As much as they insist on walking through the gloom.