Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo is a name that would not ring too many bells with an average football fan to an extent familiar with Spanish football.
But the very mention of the name Monchi is enough to stir commotion and stimulate the excitement. A retired goalkeeper who was never a world-class rating he later achieved with his second professional calling, Monchi is a departing director of football at Sevilla.
A man who revolutionised the Andalusian club during the long 17 years he spent at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
The End of an Era
Monchi dedicated his entire professional career to one single club.
The 48-year-old retired goalkeeper started his career with Sevilla B and went on to spend nine years playing at the first team, acting mostly as a backup to Juan Carlos Unzue. His career-best run came in the 1996/97 season, when he made 26 appearances in a campaign which resulted in Sevilla getting relegated.
Having later helped his team get back to the top flight with 20 games under his belt, Monchi surprisingly decided to call it a day as a 30-year-old.
It wasn’t too long before his beloved club dropped out of the top tier again – in 2000 – when Monchi’s transformation into a world-class asset began. Sevilla’s retired goalkeeper was appointed the club’s Director of Football and assigned to develop the club’s youth system while at the same time setting up a vast scouting network inside and outside Spain.
The turn of millennium turned a big page in his own career as well, making him one of the most successful executives in world football. And after 17 long years of success, Monchi decided to walk away from his role and leave his nest, but not before he was given a full-honour farewell fit of the most decorated of players.
Before the game against Deportivo La Coruna, the 48-year-old Monchi was brought upon a platform to wave goodbye to supporters with whom he celebrates a collection of nine trophies. Emotional scenes unfolded at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this weekend as the entire venue rouse up to serenade the outgoing director of football with rapturous applause and loud chants.
It was the least of a farewell Monchi could have gotten after everything he has done for his beloved club.
He was blackmailed into staying with the club in 2016 as the board of directors refused to accept his request for departure unless he paid €5 million buyout clause, but it did little to ruin his relationship with the club he helped build to the current stature.
Monchi learned from the best and picked up the tricks of the trade as he moved along with his eyes wide open, sitting alongside the legends such as Luis Aragones and Carlos Bilardo at the beginning of his career as an executive.
A man of humble origins acted the only way he could, never making sumptuous moves in his professional acting. From the ‘last-monkey’ as a 23-year-old sub goalkeeper to the most important man at the club, Monchi made sure every player he brought in during his 17-year stay went through the same path.
The man who bought Dani Alves for €1.3 million and went on to make €40 million on his sale, invested a little over €25 million for a batch of players he eventually sold at nearly €170 million including the likes of Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, Alberto Moreno etc. was never a bragging type.
His modest approach and visionary work helped Sevilla establish their presence as one of the biggest clubs in Spain, exert their dominance in the Europa League and survive some rough patches along the way with the summer upon Emery’s departure being his last big challenge.
Having been prevented to walk away, Monchi was faced with a daunting task.
The exodus included the entire team of 11 players who followed Emery’s path, but Monchi was not afraid of the task as he replaced the numbers and built up the quality, impressively. Samir Nasri, Stevan Jovetic, Franco Vazquez, Joaquin Correa, Gabriel Mercado, Pablo Sanabria are only some of the names who arrived.
The biggest of them all however, Jorge Sampaoli, an exciting and exhilarating character on the bench. Monchi made sure to leave his beloved club in good hands, but now the fears are quite reasonable as Sevilla faces a crisis as the club goes forward without such a big man up in the office.
The team has no time to waste, however, as Sevilla prepares for a trip to Mestalla.
The next Sunday’s encounter has Sevilla priced at 9/5 for a win and the players will be urged to forget the fact Monchi is no longer there to hold their back as soon as possible.
As for Monchi himself, his departure from Sevilla has immediately made Monchi one of the hottest properties in the market. As clubs make initial preparations for the summer transfer window, the asset like Monchi brings precious value and it is no wonder Europe’s biggest clubs are vying for his signature.
AS Roma were poised to sign the Sevilla director, but Paris Saint-Germain are apparently ready to reunite Monchi with Unai Emery, whereas the host of other clubs patiently sit in their wake.
The race is on and there is only one way to conclude it by saying that whoever grabs Monchi will be having a huge upper-hand heading into the summer transfer dealings.
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