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DEPORTIVO AND THE UEFA EURO 2008

06 Jun 2008
For the second time since the last promotion to Primera Divisi�n, there are no Depor's representees in the UEFA EURO. The 2008 edition kick-offs today at St. Jakob-Park (Basel, Switzerland) and it starts without a <i>Blanquiazul</i> player. However, a couple of exceptions are noticed: Christian Wilhelsmson, the Swedish winger that played at Lotina's squad during the last six months loaned from Nantes FC, and Joan Capdevila who was part of Depor in past seasons.

Deportivo has had a representation in the last three UEFA EURO competitions, now this legacy is broken since no one in the current Lotina's squad will play the tournament. An exception should be Christian Wilhelsmson who will take part in the competition with the national team of Sweden, but Deportivo and Nantes FC haven't reached any agreement for the winger and therefore, he will compete as a player that belongs to the French side.

Since the last promotion to Primera Divisi�n (1991), Depor has had ten players in the European Championship that�s played every four years. In a general sense, they had a discrete participation. Only two of them were able to score a goal, while one of them even scored an own-goal. Curiously, this person was Jorge Andrade, Portuguese defender that should be considered as the most successful Depor�s player in a EURO, because he was a key piece in the team that reached the final game although his team ended losing the title.

Before to the promotion in 1991, Depor never had a player in its squad that was taking part of the UEFA EURO, competition that represents the biggest tournament in the continent related to national teams. However, legendary Luis Su�rez was one of the key players in Spain's only European title during the 1964 edition, Su�rez is a Coru�a-born ex-Depor player that's considered as one of the biggest legends in the Spanish football, but at the time, he was already playing at Inter Milan.

The European adventures for Deportivo�s players changed as soon as the Galician side earned the promotion to Primera Divisi�n for the season 1991/1992. The final tournament of the EURO 1992 was played in Sweden, but this edition was different since only eight teams took part of the final tournament. Spain didn't qualify for this final round, and Deportivo didn't had a representee in the competition although the squad had two international players in its squad:: Ilian Ivanov Kiriakov (Bulgaria) and Draji Kanatlarovski (Yugoslavia), but like it happened with Spain, their national teams didn't qualify for the competition.

Deportivo had its first representee in a UEFA European championship for the 1996 edition. Competition that took place in England and that had for the first time, 16 teams in the final tournament. More specifically, Depor had two representees, both with the national team of Spain: Donato and  Javier Manjarin. Both men were reserve players in the squad coached by Javier Clemente.

Donato only performed eight minutes in the tournament (against Bulgaria in the preliminary round), and Manjarin had a better luck since he was able to play during 125 minutes in the preliminary round and even scored a goal during the 2-1 win over Rumania. Later, the Aragonian played the first 45 minutes of the Quarterfinals against England. Spain was eliminated in the penalty shoot-out by the British side (2-4). Manjarin had a positive performance in the tournament and he�s one of the two Depor's players that has been able to score a goal during a European championship.

A curious story is related to Petr Kouba, the goalkeeper that reached the final of the EURO 96 with Czech Republic (they lost 1-2 against Germany). He was the starting keeper in the squad and was signed by Deportivo after the end of the tournament. Kouba played 40 matches with Czech Republic between the years 1991 and 1998, but he was only able to perform in six liga encounters with Depor during his four years at the club (1996-2000).

Deportivo doubled its participation for the EURO 2000 as four players in its squad took part of the final tournament. This time the final round was co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands. Depor was coming as the new champion in Spain and two of the four Depor's representees were with Spain: Fran and Francisco J�mez. This time, both Depor's representees were normal starters in the squad of Jos� Antonio Camacho.  

Fran and Paco J�mez were starters in the three matches of the group stage: against Norway, Slovenia and Yugoslavia. Later Spain was eliminated by France in the Quarterfinals (1-2). Both Fran and J�mez played the ninety minutes in the confrontation against the French side. During Spain's last game of the preliminary round against Yugoslavia, Fran and Paco J�mez met an old face: Slavisa Jokanovic. Midfielder that played only for one season at Depor (1999-2000) performing for 23 games with Irureta's squad and scoring two goals.

During the EURO 2000, Jokanovic played as an starter in the three games of the preliminary round, he just missed one minute after been replaced in the last minute of the encounter against Norway. Later he repeated his appearance in the starting eleven for the quarterfinals game against the Netherlands, game in which the Dutch squad crushed Yugoslavia with a 6-1 score. In this game, Jokanovic met the fourth Depor's representee in the European tournament: Roy Makaay.

Contrary to the cases of his three Depor's team mates in the tournament, Makaay was a reserve player for coach Frank Rijkaard as he was limited to only perform during 60 minutes in the whole final round. He replaced twice Patrick Kluivert during the first round game with France and later in the quarterfinals game with Yugoslavia. In the end, Netherlands was eliminated in the penalty shoot-out against Italy (semi-finals).

Like it happened in the previous EURO, president Lendorio signed a goalkeeper that took part of the European Championship played during the summer. This time it was Spain's starting keeper Jos� Francisco Molina who signed for Depor after the relegation of Atl�tico Madrid, same thing than Juan Carlos Valer�n who also took part of the EURO 2000 with Spain, although he did it as a replacement.

Other two well known faces that played the EURO 2000 were Miroslav Djukic and Goran Djorovic. Both with Yugoslavia. Djukic played at Depor between the years 1991-1997 and he was part of Valencia at the time of the EURO 2000, while Djorovic was part of Celta de Vigo, the defender signed for Deportivo on the year 2001.

For the EURO 2004, Deportivo repeated the dose as four of its players took part of the final tournament, this time three were with Spain: Joan Capdevila, Albert Luque and Juan Carlos Valer�n. The three of them weren't starters for coach I�aki S�ez as they begun the group stage sited on the bench. For the first game against Russia, Valer�n became the Spanish hero as he scored the winning goal just 36 second after the Canarian playmaker replaced Morientes.

Despite the good impression left by Valer�n against the Russians, S�ez only used him during 25 minutes within the last two games against Greece and Portugal. It must be said it was a catastrophic tournament for Spain, the squad was eliminated in the preliminary round and S�ez was fired some weeks later, one of the reasons was the decision of leaving Valer�n on the bench when Spain was needing him during the crucial game with Portugal, the Spaniards were losing 0-1 and instead of sending El Flaco to the pitch, S�ez sent Luque with 18 minutes remaining in the clock, the Catalan had a clear chance in order to tie the game but he sent the ball out.

In the end, Luque only played in the competition during those 18 minutes while Capdevila never had a chance. The bad news for Spain were good news for Portugal and also to Jorge Andrade, the fourth Depor's member that took part of the EURO 2008. His team, Portugal, reached the final game and despite losing the title against Greece, Andrade played all the possible minutes (570, including 30 minutes in the extra-time against England). Andrade also scored an own-goal in semi-finals against the Netherlands, match in which he met an old friend: Roy Makaay, who by the time was already playing at Bayern Munich.

Now, there isn�t a Depor�s representee in the squad of Luis Aragon�s. However, an old face for Deportivo�s fans is there: Joan Capdevila. The Catalan joined Villarreal for the season 2007/2008 and contrary to what happened to him in the previous EURO, this time Capdevila is a normal starter occupying  the spot at the left-back. Curiously, Capdevila arrives to the competition as one of the best scorers for Spain, this because he has scored three goals within his last four matches with the squad.

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