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RCD Espanyol de Barcelona bring rich history and heritage into Saturday's LaLiga city derby

LaLiga
OFFICIAL
Feature
Published 10 Jan 2020, 18:04 IST
10 Jan 2020, 18:04 IST

Wu Lei
Wu Lei

Founder members of LaLiga, RCD Espanyol de Barcelona have contributed many of the most important figures, moments and ideas during the development of Spanish football through the decades.

Although often within the shadow of city rivals Barcelona, Espanyol have a proud heritage and history. Check out the following stories, which not all LaLiga fans will necessarily know…

1. Zamora sets the trend

Spain’s first superstar goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora made his senior debut for Espanyol aged just 15 in 1916. He quickly established himself as Spain’s top shot-stopper and represented his country between the 1920 Olympics and 1936 World Cup.

The Catalan kept goal for Espanyol during the debut 1929/30 LaLiga campaign and also appeared in his famous peaked cap for city rivals Barcelona over a long career. Other players to have worn both jerseys through the decades including Ladislao Kubala, Jordi Cruyff, Samuel Etoo, Ivan de la Pena and Philippe Coutinho, while current Barca coach Ernesto Valverde also has the distinction of having played for and coached both clubs.

Widely regarded an ahead of his time pioneer of the goalkeeping art, Zamora’s name still lives on in the award for LaLiga’s best goalkeeper each season.

2. The Tamudazo denies Barça

One of the most famous moments in Espanyol history is June 2007’s ‘Tamudazo’, when Raul Tamudo famously scored at the Camp Nou in the last minute to deny Barcelona the LaLiga Santander title.

The ‘Tamudazo’ was the centre-forward’s second of two goals that evening, when the locally born forward also became the club’s all-time leading LaLiga goalscorer.

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In total Tamudo scored 129 goals in 340 LaLiga games for Espanyol, but his neat 90th minute finish past Barça keeper Victor Valdes is by far the best remembered, not least at Real Madrid as it helped Los Blancos to win that year’s LaLiga title.

3. The legacy of Dani Jarque

Espanyol supporters break into applause in the 21st minute of each home game in memory of the team’s former captain Dani Jarque. Jarque suffered a heart attack and died aged just 26 when playing for the team in Italy in August 2009.

Locally-born Jarque had come through the youth ranks at Espanyol and was a one-man club, scoring eight goals in 173 LaLiga appearances for his boyhood club. A contemporary and Spain underage international teammate of Barça legend Andres Iniesta, he had looked set to play alongside his friend in the Spain national team for many years.

Gate 21 at the RCDE Stadium is now officially named the ‘Puerta Dani Jarque’ in tribute to the Espanyol youth team graduate’s former shirt number, and is also marked by a statue of the much-loved former team captain. In 2012, Espanyol’s training ground was officially renamed the Ciudad Deportiva Dani Jarque.

4. Perica and Perico, the perikeets

Espanyol broke new ground in Spanish football with the unveiling of LaLiga’s first female team mascot, Perica, in August 2017. She joined fellow mascot and long-time fans favourite Perico as a key part of the atmosphere at the RCDE Stadium.

Espanyol fans have long been known as ‘Los Periquitos’ [the parakeets] due to the birds which noisily enjoyed life in the trees around the Estadio de Sarria, the team’s home stadium from 1923 to 1997.

Perico and Perica are now known for their innovative dance moves along the sidelines during games and also regularly get involved in pre-game ceremonies recognizing local celebrities and achievers in other sports.

5. Wu Lei makes history

Espanyol became the first club to register a Chinese goalscorer in LaLiga history. Wu Lei’s neat finish to seal a win over Real Valladolid in March 2019 actually made him the first Chinese player to score in any of Europe’s top five leagues for over a decade.

Signed by the Chinese-owned club during the winter window, Wu made an immediate impact as the team climbed from relegation trouble in January to Europa League qualification by the end of the season.

The former Shanghai SIPG star remains the all-time top goalscorer in Chinese Super League history with 102 goals, and has already played more than 30 LaLiga games for Espanyol.

Modified 10 Jan 2020, 18:04 IST
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