The Rayo Vallecano in Mexico 68 | sports

The Rayo Vallecano in Mexico 68 | sports

The jOlympic games in Mexico were unforgettable for many reasons: for the massacre of the Square of the Three Cultures, the prodigies of Bob Beamon, Dick Fosbury, Lee Evans, Vera Cáslavská, the gesture of Tommy Smith and John Carlos. But many veteran fans of Vallecas keep a more intimate memory: the role of Rayo in the Olympic Team. A unique event.

Since in 1928 the presence of professionals was rejected, the Spanish football had not returned to some JJOO. Forty years of waiting.

An attempt was already made for Tokyo-60, with a selection amateur. Who were then footballers amateurs? Young people on the threshold of success who were convinced to stay on that step for a while. Something charged. They were amateurs brown, as it was said then, the same as many other Olympic athletes. Those of the basketball, I put for case.

That step was invented for the Mediterranean Games of 1955, which were played in Barcelona. The idea was recovered for those of 1963, in Salerno. There we were third and that encouraged the Federation to try the assault on the Tokyo Games. That was a great generation, full of names that triumphed later: Rodri, Torres, Aranguren, Fuertes, Grosso, Uriarte, Velázquez … They eliminated Switzerland in the Pre-Olympic, but they clashed with Hungary. Normal. The Eastern European countries did not recognize professionalism and their best players played indiscriminately in the World Cup or in the Olympic Games. They lived on state salaries, placed as high officials.

In the next attempt is when Rayo enters fully, which was then intermediate step of the best of the quarry of Madrid to the first team or other destinations. To that litter the Rayo contributed to Mendieta (adoptive father of the then famous international), Benito, Hernández, Chufi, González, Felines, Aparicio, Ortega and Grande. It is not that everyone will play all the games, but that they will play four, five and even six together at some time. And they were the majority in the group.

That caused fever in Vallecas. Scrambled with the qualifying phase for Mexico-68 was played a first European Amateur Championship, with the same players. They won to France in Bayonne, 1-2, and the return visit filled Vallecas with 15,000 spectators, who enthusiastically attended a 4-1. ABC opened its sports section, something unusual, with that match amateur that supposed the international premiere of the old field of Vallecas.

But the greatest emotion came in the Olympic classification. After eliminating without major hurries to Iceland, it touched Great Britain (the British participate in the JJOO under a single denomination and flag, not with four). The first leg was 1-0 in the Creu Alta, in Sabadell, with a goal by Ortega, in front of 23,000 spectators. The return was resolved with a draw to zero. Spain to Mexico! To the Olympic Games after forty years. As he consecrated the cover to both parties and Vallecas felt capital of Spanish football.

The penalty was that the favorite of Vallecas, Felines, could not go. Atlético wanted to sign him before the decline of Collar, taking advantage of the fact that with the players amateur there was no right of retention. But Pedro Roiz, president of the Lightning and Local Head of the Movement, said that nanay. He forced him to make a professional record and he stayed without going to Mexico. That's the way things were then.

Big, not a lot of assistant of Del Bosque, and recently passed to Madrid just when the Games arrived, remember those days clearly. "We were going on the second Spanish expedition that was leaving, and it was thought that it would be suspended due to the massacre in the Plaza de las Cuatro Culturas. Finally we went ". The disappointment was that the coach, Santamaría, did not allow them to participate in the opening ceremony. "We played at two days. He said it was a beating, many hours standing waiting … "

Spain started by winning 1-0 to Brazil. Then, 3-0 to Nigeria, which already gave the classification. Mexico, who had lost to France, was going to cross in the box with the second of the group from Spain. The players, with Benito and Grande, who carried the lead to the head, suggested Santamaría letting himself be won on the third day against Japan. He refused in resounding. "He took the substitutes, to participate and to rest from the others, but said that if he saw someone loosen he would go home."

That reserve team tied with Japan. "And we got Mexico in the quarterfinals. Above, in Puebla. If not, we would have played the quarters against France, without moving from the Azteca. We went to Puebla, they made us a trap and we lost 2-0. Japan, which was on the other side, had the bronze …! "

At least they had a few days left until the return. They had a temptation at the Cantinflas farm, hired them for friendly in Irapuato and Veracruz and saw parading through the door of the Olympic Village imposing cars as no less imposing girls who offered athletes to show them the outline. And before anything better to do …

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