Team Spotlight: UE Llagostera and their European champion, Javier ChicaMarch 8, 2018
When you imagine European Championship-winning Spaniards, you think of Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets or Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos.
Yet, UE Llagostera, a third-tier Segunda B side, have one too, not from the 2008 or 2012 La Roja successes, but from the 2004 under-19 team triumph.
Javier Chica, now a 32-year-old full-back, played alongside the likes of David Silva, Roberto Soldado, Juanfran and the aforementioned Ramos as the youngsters beat Turkey in the final in Switzerland.
Espanyol regular to Segunda B defender
Chica started out in the upper echelons of Spanish football having risen through the academy at Espanyol, earning a call-up to the national team for the youth competition after starring for the Catalan club’s B team in the third tier.
Yet, he became overshadowed by his fellow full-back Juanfran, who went on to be the player of the tournament before becoming a huge success at Atletico Madrid.
For Chica, he has had his ups during his career, including earning over 100 league appearances for his local side Espanyol, along with helping them to reach the 2007 UEFA Cup final, only to lose to fellow Spanish outfit Sevilla in final.
He enjoyed a three-year stint at Real Betis, but after suffering relegation, the 32-year-old moved to Segunda club Real Valladolid and then joined Llagostera last year.
No senior Spain cap
However on the international stage, while his team-mates at that tournament have gone onto amass a total of 356 caps for the Spanish senior side, including 149 appearances by current captain Sergio Ramos, an outfield record for the country, Chica only featured in a single under-20 fixture for La Roja and has failed to make the first team.
At the moment, he will have to delve on his experience from the those Championships and help guide his side away from the relegation zone in Segunda B with a two-point gap to safety and ten games to go.