Vicente Rodriguez – The Signing of the Summer!

by Edward Watson

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Forget Arteta, Crouch, Barton or Bellamy. Surely the transfer of all transfers this summer was Brighton’s signing of Valencia legend Vicente Rodriguez on a free transfer last week!

Gus Poyet is exactly right to call this signing a “major coup” for the club which already sit top, and needless to say undefeated, after six games in their first season in the Championship since 2006.

For those of you maybe too young to remember his glory days or for those who don’t follow Spanish football Vicente was a part of the most successful Valencia side of the modern era. Joining in 2000 he helped the club to two La Liga titles, one UEFA Cup, one European Super Cup and the Copa Del Rey, as well as reaching the Champions League Final in 2001. He also won 38 caps for the Spanish national side, all by the time he was 23.

Such was the admiration of the fans at Mestella he was given a hero’s farewell during half-time in his final match.

His Valencia career was – excuse the football cliché – one of two halves: Pre-2004 he was one of the world’s most sort-after players, earning praises from all corners of the globe. His talent was arguably complimented most by Valencia’s rejection of a €36million bid from Real Madrid for him, such was his importance to the team.

Post-2004 his career was hampered by a series of injuries and feuds with managers. The result was of course restricted first team action. The left winger still showed his quality however, given a more regular first team place in the 2008/09 season where he put away a total of ten goals in 38 appearances.

So now he starts a new chapter of his career, aged 30, in the Championship with Brighton. But why Brighton I hear you say?

You’ve got to have a huge amount of respect for a player who picks football over wages – just look at Asamoah Gyan last week, who swore his allegiance to Sunderland then scarpered off to the United Arab Emirates – and according to the player himself he picked Brighton because of the way they play football.

Vicente was reportedly offered multiple contracts from clubs around Europe – Premier League included– yet he still chose to go to the Championship purely for footballing reasons. I can’t think of many players that would make that sort of decision. Whether it’s a good decision we’ll wait and see, but if I were a betting man I’d put good money on it being a good one.

Clearly the veteran Spaniard is intent on getting his career back on track. After seven tough years at Valencia he looks set to reignite his career. Of course he won’t relive the success he had with his hometown club where he is now, but I’m sure he will fulfil his new goal of enjoying his football again with a team on the up.

And where does this leave Brighton? Having already made a flying start this season adding a world class winger to the side can only take them from strength to strength. It might take Vicente a short while to get used to the British style of play – and not to mention the weather – but I firmly believe he will accelerate Brighton’s ascent in the Football League.

So, hats off to Gus Poyet from me. He’s signed a top quality for no transfer fee; and not only that he signed because he wants to play football, not for a large pay-cheque. Relying Vicente can keep his fitness I will be sticking to my original opinion that this is well and truly the signing of the summer!

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  • Gareth

    I think he has been the best player in the league by far when he has played. Have you seen him yet???? he is worth the gate fee even if you dont support Brighton! He is still quick, he is at a different level! Hats off to the new doctor at Brighton has got him fit and playing again.
    The true question is where will he be next year? His wife is due to give birth this summer and may want to return to spain and how may prem teams will want him? My guess is Spurs will take him! but i hope not. This is a story to tell the grand kids …the year of the DAGGER!

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