It’s been less than eight years since Osasuna encountered what team chief executive Franc Canal described as “the worst moment in its history.” The team was a single loss from the disgrace of relegation to the third tier of Spanish football. Bankruptcy was imminent. He said the club was on a precipice “in terms of social, economic and credibility”.
On Saturday, Osasuna will face Real Madrid in the final of the Spanish Cup, the Copa del Rey. Its hometown, Pamplona, is decked out in the team’s colors. Tens of thousands of fans are expected to flock to Plaza de Castillo to watch only the second major final in the club’s history.
Of course, the journey between the two points wasn’t simple. It took a fair amount of crafty, painstaking and painstaking work to rebuild and revive Osasuna. Its rise was so fast and so massive that by definition it wasn’t easy.
It is therefore surprising that Canal and his colleagues make everything look plain.
One example: Aimar Oroz, a 21-year-old midfielder enjoying a breakthrough season, basically runs through a list of teammates he’s known since childhood. Six or seven immediately come to mind. “Changing rooms are really important,” he said. “If the people there are your friends, the atmosphere will be better.”
Another example: In January, the Osasuna coach suddenly realized they had no healthy full-backs. He could have signed the player or turned the midfielder into the role, instead he drafted his 21-year-old Diego Moreno from the team’s academy. Moreno trained with the team for two days, made his debut in the Cup and was in the league line-up within a week. “If the type of player that we need is here, we’re not going to sign.”
Simplicity in football is deceptively complicated. Declaring the virtue of common sense is easy. Standing beside them in a vortex of hopes, pressures and expectations is something else entirely.
But Osasuna’s result, of course, a first-half finish in La Liga, a finalist in the Copa del Rey and a fraction of the budget of most rivals, marks the club as a model of best practice. A clear view of the most pressing issues:
why don’t we all do it?
A Spanish province nestled between the Basque Country and the Aragonese Mountains and covered by the Pyrenees, Navarre has produced more professional footballers than anywhere else in Spain. A survey a few years ago found that he had 1 player in 22,000 people in the region.
Part of Osasuna’s director of youth development, Ángel Alcalde, wants to believe it’s genetic in some way. Smiles: For some reason, it’s a random genetic mutation that makes the state’s 650,000 residents better at soccer than anyone else.
But he knows that the correct answer is likely to be the simplest one. Navarra’s success has its roots in two of his not-so-mysterious mysteries: systems and structures.
“Navarra has a football culture,” Alcalde said. “But in a region where there is only one club, Osasuna. We work with 150 affiliated youth teams. There are 20,000 players in orbit. We are looking for talent under every rock.”
Of course, Osasuna has no free runs for those players. One of the reasons why Navarra as a whole has proven so productive over the years is that neighboring Basque Country’s leading teams, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad, have long considered the state’s players to be a fair game. what you’ve seen. More recently, Barcelona and Villarreal have also identified themselves as fertile lands.
Osasuna cannot pay as generously as those teams. It certainly cannot match the charm of Barcelona.But what it can offer is a sure path from youth football to a professional career, from potential to fulfillment. It’s about creating a stream of players for the team and making sure they’re ready to jump from Disneyland to Jurassic Park,” says Alcalde. “If you want to be a player, I’m sure this is the place for you.”
But he is keenly aware that most of the hopefuls under his command get lost. “Being a player is complicated,” he said. “Very few make it through.” To offset that, Osasuna’s youth academy, Tajoner, focuses as much on health, psychology, and emotional development as it does football. I don’t want to damage them,” he said. “I don’t want to leave broken eggs on the road.”
Saturday night there will be a number of players on the field that Alcalde and his staff might point to as validation and proof – what Alcalde calls “Tajoner DNA,” if not Navarra genes. Things are certain.
But it’s clear he’s proud of the people who aren’t there. “He had a lot of talent, but it cost him his career. He studied data science in college, but is now being invited back to the club to work in the data sector. That’s important, we want Tajonar to be a mark of prestige for everyone, not just those who become players.”
Where Mondays Matter
Aimar Oroz received a call a few months ago. Ultimately, all members of the Osasuna first team were asked by Academy staff to spend an afternoon training with the youth team, provide tips and advice, and correct any mistakes they found. rice field.
Sometimes players are sent to training with the club’s youngest members (boys under the age of 11 or 12), but for Oroz and Croatian striker Ante Budimir, who joined him that afternoon, they was a little older: players under the age of 16. and under the age of 18.
In fact, Oroz didn’t enjoy the role of the expert. He is shy by nature and has just graduated from the academy. He didn’t feel particularly comfortable being drafted or giving orders as a senior head. “It’s part of the club,” he said. “It’s something we’re happy to do.”
The message is clear and two-fold. These sessions show the doors open for younger players and remind older players that no matter how far they go, they must always remember where they came from.
Whatever happens in Saturday’s final, the experience will broaden Osasuna’s horizons. The victory, the first major honor in the club’s history, means a place in Europe next season. You can qualify for the high Spanish Super Cup.
Playing reinforces the impression that this is where the club goes. Its stadium, El Sadar, has been renovated and its new refined shape has been named him one of the best stadiums in Europe. Officially, it is the loudest in Spain. Suddenly, he’s home to a team in La Liga, competing with Real, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid (presumably his three other Super Cup contenders) for the honor.
But that success doesn’t change anything at all. Osasuna is not without ambition. She is far from it. However, club owner Canal said the club will not “lose its value” nor abandon the ways it has worked so well. To go.
Sporting director Vazquez said: “We know that means there will be bad moments. The success we have had this season may not continue next year.” I understand: “You can’t normalize something that isn’t normal.”
So no matter what happens on Saturday, Osasuna will continue to run from nadir to zenith as it has for the past eight years. There may be celebrations. There may be sympathy. The club that appears on the other side will be exactly the same.
“Monday,” said Kanal.