Profiles - Lopo

ALBERT LOPO GARCIA
Squad Number 2015/16:  23 
Date of Birth: 5 May, 1980
Place of Birth: Barcelona

Nationality:
Spain

Contract: 2014-2017
Transfer: Free Transfer (2014, from Getafe CF)
Career: Deportivo (2014-now), Getafe CF (2011-2014), Deportivo (2006-2011), RCD Espanyol (2000-2006), RCD Espanyol B (1998-2000). Espanyol youth system (1990-1998)  
Release Clause: ?

Height:
186 cm

Weight:
81 kg
Position: Defender (centre)
  


LOPO was considered as one of the best Spanish central defenders that were available back when he was signed on a free-transfer by Deportivo in May 2006. Other clubs showing serious interest were Valencia, Villarreal, Manchester United and Newcastle United, but the Catalan player decided to follow the footsteps of ex-Espanyol players Capdevila and Sergio. At Deportivo he confirmed his status, was picked for the Spanish national team and was named player of the year in the season 2006/07. But Lopo lived a dark chapter at the Galician outfit after suffering the first of the two recent demotions. He returned to A Coruńa in 2004 searching for redemption and helped the club in his most recent return to the elite of Spanish football.

Lopo spent the first years on his professional career at RCD Espanyol, club where he started to play football when he was only ten. Soon the coaches noticed his good skills and in April, 1999 (aged eighteen) he debuted at Primera División against Zaragoza. In this way he became the first Espanyol player who has participated in all categories of the club: he started as Alevín and ten years later he played in the first team. Well-known players of Los Pericos those days were mentioned Capdevila and Sergio, goalkeeper Toni, Iván Helguera and Esnáider. Until the summer of 2001, Lopo played twenty-two matches in the first team under coaches Brindisi and Francisco Flores of which most were during the final part of the season 2000/2001. His final breakthrough came during the season after it (2001/2002) when he only missed five matches in the Liga, scored his first goal but also received his first red card during a 2-0 loss at rivals FC Barcelona.

He would remain a starter at Espanyol until his departure in May 2006; under coaches Juande Ramos, Javier Clemente, Luis Fernandez and Miguel Angel Lotina he gained a reputation as a superb, but rough, defender. During the season 2002/2003 he was booked 14 times in twenty-three matches including a double one in the match against Racing de Santander (5-2 loss). During the season after it, he saw 15 yellow cards (including three double yellows) and one direct red card. Between 2004 and 2006, he received another 21 yellow cards and two red cards although the numbers somewhat decreased with the years passing by.

Not too many players can repeat what Lopo achieved with his team those years: winning two Copa del Rey trophies in 2000 and 2006. In that final year Espanyol’s officials tried to sign a new deal with the defender, but Lopo had other plans. He had confidence in the project of coach Caparrós at Depor, rejected a renewal at Espanyol and waved away offers of earlier mentioned clubs. But although he was out of contract, Espanyol eventually started a court case against Deportivo to get financial compensation (an amount of €5.6 million was mentioned) for having ‘educated’ the player in their youth system. Espanyol’s claim was based on an agreement between most Spanish clubs, but Deportivo is not part of this agreement because Depor’s board never confirmed it. The Catalans didn’t won the case as one year later, a judge determined that Deportivo shouldn’t pay any amount to Espanyol.

In his first season at Deportivo (2006/2007), Lopo continued as always: playing most matches (31; an injury kept him out in December and January), playing well and receiving a mention worthy total of eleven yellow cards (this includes a double one at home against Celta; Lopo was also sent off in the Copa home match against Valladolid). He was an undisputed starter in the team and fourth on Depor’s list based on Liga minutes. In the first part of the season he formed a partnership with Alvaro Arbeloa. After the ex-Real Madrid was sold to Liverpool, it was Jorge Andrade (recovered from an important injury) who accompanied Lopo at the back. That central defence, with Capdevila and Coloccini at the sides and Aouate as goalkeeper, kept 16 clean sheets in 38 matches (almost half of the Liga matches played in a difficult season). Much of Depor’s points gained that season were based on the defensive performance of a team not capable of scoring sufficient goals.

In April 2007, it was Lopo’s injury-time header which gave Deportivo a 1-0 home win against Osasuna. In the Copa Del Rey penalty shoot-out with Racing de Santander in November 2006 it was Lopo, who can perfectly hit the ball with both legs, who scored the decisive one. But it wasn’t only sunshine during the season: a strange handball at Betis in October 2006 earned the home side a late penalty kick and the equalising goal (1-1). Later Lopo admitted that he couldn’t sleep the night after this match. When, at the end of the season, the derby match against Celta approached it was Lopo who reacted first when Baiano left some provocative remarks. Lopo said that he would love to accept payments by third parties to defeat Celta. "We will be enchanted with that. It will help me to pay the diapers of my son. It's fresh money that you receive. However, nobody has offered this to us. We only have to be worried about our game, that's all". In the end, Depor lost the derby, but Celta went to Segunda División.

As a player, his style can be described as very physical. Lopo is tall (186 cm) and one of the most booked players in Spanish football. He’s best as a marker to the opposing central striker.His strongest point is the mark over the opposing central striker. He can be highly focused for the full ninety minutes of football and is dangerous when going forward at set-pieces. But he has some limits too. During the season 2006/2007, he was Depor’s player with most fouls. As a consequence he was Depor’s most booked player (10 plus a red card). Lopo also was the one having given most failed passes. It’s an indication that Lopo’s talk mainly should be to prevent opponents from scoring and to leave the build-up to other players.

One of Lopo’s personal targets for that season was to make his debut for the Spanish national team. In November 2006 he was picked by national coach Aragonés for the friendly match against Romania. Lopo said about it: "Every player has to fight hard for his pick and to be part of the national team is a reward. This is probably the most important day in my career; it's a dream coming true”. In the end, Lopo didn’t play during this 0-1 loss and neither was he picked again that season for the national team. Also, in December 2001, he made his debut for the regional team of Catalonia against Chile. 

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