FRANCISCO LIAÑO FERNÁNDEZ

Date of Birth: 16 November, 1964
Nationality: Spain
Period at Deportivo: 1991 - 1996
Transfer: Free Transfer (1991, from Sestao)
Clubs: Sporting de Gijón (1996-1997), Deportivo (1991-1996), Sestao (1990-1991), Racing de Santander (1983-1990), Racing de Santander juveniles
Sold: (1996, to Sporting de Gijón)
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Position: Goalkeeper

Goalkeeper LIAÑO is a legend at the club from the nineties. With only nine matches of experience at the highest level, he was signed as emergency cover-up for new addition Canales in the summer of 1991. Five years later he left Deportivo, taking two Zamora trophies, a Zamora record, a Copa del Rey medal, and a Supercopa medal with him.

All started in the mid-eighties when he made his debut in the Segunda División with the club from his city of birth: Santander. This took place during the season 1983/1984, when Racing de Santander achieved promotion to the Primera División. On 9 September, 1984 he made his debut at this level, during a 1-0 loss at Real Valladolid. But during the next season he didn't play a single Liga match because of the competition he faced from experienced goalie Alba. Only in the season 1986/1987 did he add Primera División matches to his total, by playing eighth matches that season.

Unfortunately, Racing de Santander were regelated in 1987 and went back to the Segunda División, and Liaño went with them. Until 1990 he would stay with them in this division, and only played a handful of matches. But in 1990, at the age of twenty-six, his breakthrough arrived. Liaño needed a switch for it, because he left Santander and joined Sestao from the Segunda División. Two years earlier Irureta had made them successful as a coach, and now Liaño conceded least goals of all goalkeepers in this division.

1991 was the year when Deportivo achieved promotion to the Primera División, and the Galicians needed to strengthen the goalkeepers department. They signed Canales, who once made his debut at Real Madrid being just seventeen years old. But Canales suffered an injury at the start of the season, and Deportivo had to react quickly. The thing was that Liaño had just decided to quit football, because his contract at Sestao had ended. But Lendoiro persuaded him, Liaño and Deportivo agreed on a deal, and that's how the goalkeeper ended up at the Galician club.

That season Liaño played the first ten Liga matches from finish to start, but conceded fifteen goals in a struggling Deportivo team. When Canales was declared fit, he took over again on 24 November, 1991. But in his first match after his reappearance, bad luck struck again as he limped off injured at Espanyol after fifty-six minutes with the score 0-1. Liaño replaced him, also kept a clean sheet and the Galicians took an impressive 0-3 victory home.

Liaño would also defend the goal of Deportivo in the next six matches. But he also had to limp off injured during a match: against Valencia on 2 February, 1992. Third goalkeeper Josu (28-years old, but without experience at the highest level) took over and played eleven matches after the Valencia defeat, before Canales made his second come-back of the season. Deportivo narrowly escaped relegation after winning play-off matches against Betis Sevilla, but the glorious years were about to start. And these would include Liaño as their first goalkeeper, and not Canales nor Josu.

In the summer of 1992 it was between Liaño and Canales for the place of goalkeeper at Deportivo. But during the pre-season Canales was hit by a door from a truck, and once again ended up in the hospital. So it was Liaño who started the Liga season once again and played thirty-seven matches for Deportivo, while Josu added one match to his tally. Deportivo were conquering Spain that season, and occupied the first spot during eighteen of the first twenty-four matchdays. Besides, they were crowned winter champions. In the end it didn't win them the title, but the team qualified for the first time in their history for European football. Liaño won the Zamora trophy for his performances that campaign by conceding just thirty-one goals. He set a personal by record by not conceding a goal for 667 minutes from 8 November, 1992 until 17 January, 1993.

Things only went better in the next season, as by now his position as goalkeeper was undisputed. Third goalkeeper Josu had been replaced by Elduayen, but neither he or Canales would be given a chance during this Liga campaign. Liaño defended the goal of Deportivo during every single minute of the competition, played thirty-eighth Liga matches and conceded only eighteen goals.

On 7 April, 1994 it was Polish Atlético player Kosecki who beat him in Riazor. And only after fifthy-three minutes in the second match of the season 1994/1995 was he beaten again, meaning that he had survived 714 minutes without conceding a Liga goal. But that didn't break his record of 10 November, 1993 until 15 January, 1994 when he conceded no goals for 772 minutes in a row. Together with a fantastic defence composed of Nando, Djukic, Voro, Ribera and López-Rekarte, the goalie almost proved to be unbeatable that campaign. He also did his duty on 14 May, 1994 when he held a clean sheet at home against Valencia. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to win the title that season, as the Djukic penalty miss caused that Barcelona won it on goaldifference.

During the season 1994/1995 Liaño was less lucky with conceding goals, but won the first prize of his career and in the history of Deportivo: the Copa del Rey. In the Liga he suffered an injury against Espanyol in September, 1994, and was replaced by Canales. But Liaño reclaimed his place on 3 December, 1994, when Canales limped off injured during the 1-1 draw at FC Barcelona in Nou Camp. And Liaño would play all matches until 30 April, 1995. Until during a 0-0 draw at Valladolid, Elduayen had to replace Liaño because now both first choices suffered injuries.

Elduayen kept a clean sheet that match, he repeated this against Cruyff's Barcelona (1-0) and also did so during thirty-three minutes at Sevilla. Then it was his turn to sustain an injury... Elduayen was replaced by Canales, but in the next three matches Liaño took over again. Canales was given a new opportunity during the final home match of the season, when Deportivo already were without options to win the title. But Liaño played the final match of the campaign at Albacete (2-8 win), with Molina defending the goal of the opposing side. There was no Zamora trophy this time, but Liaño successfully defend the goal of Deportivo against Valencia (2-1) in the Copa del Rey final and with it secured their first ever trophy. In that summer the Supercopa 1995 was added to it.

In the season 1995/1996 it was Canales who was given the confidence of new coach Toshack. He played during the first seven matches of the season. But after having conceded ten goals in those matches, Liaño took over again and kept his place in the team until the end of the campaign. Liaño played thirty-five Liga matches that season, and again didn't leave much minutes for Canales and Elduayen. In fact, Elduayen didn't play at all that Liga season while Canales didn't play since matchday seven of the season.

After five seasons at the club, Liaño had played 154 Liga matches for them: seventeen in the season 1991/1992 (conceding seventeen goals), thirty-seven in the season 1992/1993 (conceding thirty-one goals), thirty-eighth in the season 1993/1994 (conceding eighteen goals), twenty-seven in the season 1994/1995 (conceding twenty-two goals) and thirty-five in the season 1995/1996 (conceding thirty-four goals). This average of conceding 0,79 goals per match cannot be repeated by many goalkeepers.

In 1993 and 1994 he won the Zamora trophy, but in 1995 had to let it go to Betis goalkeeper Jaro. Liaño's average of conceding just 0,47 goal per match during the season 1993/1994 hadn't been achieved before, nor has it been achieved since. Real Sociedad goalkeeper Arconada (Liaño's idol) reached an average of 0,58 in the season 1979/1980, while Atlético's Abel reached 0,51 in the 1990/1991 campaign. Reminds to say that during all his Liga matches at Deportivo he never ever was presented a yellow nor a red card, but unfortunately all this wasn't enough to earn him a cap with Spain.

By mutual agreement, and despite a contract running until 30 June, 1998, Liaño went to Sporting de Gijón in the summer of 1996. Deportivo had signed Petr Kouba and Jacques Songo'o while coach Toshack had never shown much confidence in Liaño. But Liaño's time in Gijón wasn't a success and it was a sad goodbye to a fantastic end of his career. He played two more Liga matches: on 23 October, 1996 at Valencia (2-1 loss) and his final one on 19 Februay, 1997. That day he had the unthankful task of replacing first choice Ablanedo II during the break, with the score 3-0 in the advantage of Zaragoza. The home team added two goals more, and caused a miserable end to Liaño's career as in April, 1997 he quit football on doctor's advice. A Deportivo legend said goodbye to professional football. Liaño is married to a coruñesa and currently lives in Santander.
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