Juanito

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Juanito

Post by StrugaRock on Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:00 am

A post taken from FB from a Madridista name Brian Brown

The Benchmark

Brian Brown 3/1/2016 Often when Madridistas see sub-par performances from our players and we see an overall lack of concern for club well-being, people – still – will reflect back upon Juan Gómez González, the Real Madrid legend known as Juanito. The question is why; why show any loyalty to a statistically mediocre player, with no real international exposure or heft and with no cantera credentials whatsoever?

Juanito was, by all accounts, a standard player who had already been relegated to journeyman status and was headed for the scrapheap before arriving at Chamartín. He was unique, charming, typically Spanish who would have been just as comfortable driving a truck or working at a dock if it would have made him happy. He was a hot-headed, brash but charismatic rogue whom, if you were to meet him in a bar, would smile at you one minute, convince you to buy him a beer the next and then slap your girlfriend on the ass if she wanted to leave before closing. He was Han Solo, only he wouldn’t have even sat down at a table with Greedo, he would have just pummeled the bounty hunter on sight.

Juanito made it ok to love Real Madrid unreservedly. He was born Andalusian; loved Zaragoza as a young player; came up through the Atlético youth system; detoured by a broken leg through Burgos and then purchased by Real Madrid after having a breakout year in 1976. He was, by all accounts, an unremarkable presence in person. He was short, disheveled in appearance and dubious of anyone even remotely different from himself. However, once he took the field for Real Madrid, he was a force of nature with the ball at his feet. He was a whirling dervish of a dribbler, unafraid of any defense and capable of running through 2-3 markers at any given moment, often with a permanent smile on his face.

He fought alongside (and probably with) Real Madrid greats like Del Bosque and Camacho. He was ‘1’ in the impressive 1-2 punch next to the prolific scorer Santillana. He got into fights, sometimes with former teammates, when he played in European competitions. He simply did not care to be defended in any way, shape or form. He found defenders offensive.

The mythology surrounding him was due to not only his natural gift for ball control but also because of his inherent quality which only shined for Madrid. He had some limited success for La Roja but those teams weren’t the monolithic squads of recent history; they were often heavily political sides with no small amount of rancor between players who wouldn’t give one another the time of day if they were to see one another on the street. Undoubtedly skilled, Juanito today is only truly celebrated at every Real Madrid home game, at the seventh minute. His tragic death by car accident isn’t remembered much anymore because he had already left Real Madrid when he died. Few, even those who knew him best, publicly remember him when they speak of football matters.

He is, even today, a controversial figure because many of the same Spanish adults who are middle aged men today – who reject him as being a great footballer – were also children once, running around the street playing pickup games in a white t-shirt with a seven written on the back in magic marker. Juanito, oddly enough, never saw his name on a jersey because names and fancy, sponsored jersies were still largely uncommon when Juanito played. Everyone, however, knew what the number seven meant.

Everyone knew.

The number seven, because of Juanito, meant there would be no respite, no quarter, no safe-haven for anyone who dared to get in your way. No matter when you played or where, if you came up against a white shirt with a number seven on the back, you were in for a fight for the full 90 minutes and – if you felt like you wanted to have a go – for as long as you wanted after the game was over.

Juanito was 5’6” and nowhere near a suitable weight. He was scrawny to a fault, unkempt, and reckless with his personal affairs of every kind. However, as a Merengue, he left no stone unturned in any competition, official or amateur, match or training, cup, league or Europe. His abilities as a dribbler were undisputed as, even in defeat, he wore entire defenses down. He attacked the game with a fury and a desperation that few had seen up until that point. Di Stefano was art in motion, as his name suggested (The Arrow), he was elegant in his running and his poise. He wowed opponents and teammates alike with his uncanny skills but Juanito didn’t avoid defenses with his speed or his ability, he sought them out. He wanted to run right at you and get as close to you as he could and then beat you with his ridiculously underappreciated speed and ball control.

Every fan, every Madridista of any age old enough to remember that other Real Madrid, that scrappy Real Madrid, that black-and-white television (if you were lucky) Real Madrid; every fan knows today that Juanito was our greatest untold story. He got none of the accolades modern players get today for doing half as much work with half as much passion. His efforts became ridiculed due to the shift from Franco to post-Franco; he was correspondent with a decline of the old Spain, the past Spain, the Spain that was only geographically part of Europe and much more a broken down appendage, hanging off of Europe like a dislocated shoulder on a boxer who just got his ass kicked. His excellence was written off as a part of the old political machine, his Real Madrid credentials dismissed as having been lucky to make the team, much less lead it to glory. He deserved better, despite his many public mistakes.

He never got the “better” he deserved. He worked incessantly on the field and in training, he raged against the cruel nuances of football on a daily basis and – after his tragic death in an automobile accident – he was allowed to fade away. He was shuffled out of the limelight to make way for other, newer, savvier, nicer, and more culturally aware and, yes, more marketable players.

Not in the Bernabéu, however. Every seventh minute, no matter if they chant his name or simply the number seven, he is remembered because he came to Real Madrid and he did not quit from the time he first showed up for training until the day he was sent on his way. He did not quit, ever. You could be winning against Real Madrid, or Spain, by any number of goals and it didn’t matter. If he got the ball and was headed your way, you were in for the contest of your life and – most importantly – it didn’t mean he would ultimately score. In what seemed odd to anyone who did not know his true talent, he smiled just as much in setting up his automatic partner, Santillana, as he did scoring himself. He was everything to everyone who wanted nothing more than to run towards a goal with a ball at their feet.

Today, as Real Madrid struggles, a lot of what the old guys long for isn’t Di Stefano or Gento or Raúl or Van Gol or Butragueño or any other Real Madrid great. What they long for, what they wish they could see again, is that raw power and unmitigated courage; rushing up the field in a sheer force of will.

That is what they miss. That is who they long to see again. That is the measurement by which Real Madrid firepower is judged. He, even today, is the benchmark.

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Re: Juanito

Post by Doc on Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:58 am

A lovely read Struga though it didn't actually make this rather depressing situation any less depressing and I personally don't like looking back when we can clearly move forward.

Literally, Madrid is a rich f-ing club whose issues are so self inflicting, we can be categorised as suicidal at this point.

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