Out of the shadows

The Basque side recorded a historic 5-1 win over Sevilla . :: EFE
The Basque side recorded a historic 5-1 win over Sevilla . :: EFE
  • The improbable Eibar fairytale could be Europa-League bound

The story of Sociedad Deportivo Eibar is so different from anything else we've ever witnessed; it's like a street busker going to representing Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest.

In fact the way things stand; they will be one of Spain's representatives in the Europa League next season, though I'm not sure their stadium will meet the criteria set by the UEFA suits.

I tried to research how far down the list their municipally-owned stadium was in the listings but Google wouldn't recognise venues with a capacity with less than 10,000.

The capacity of 7,083 wasn't reached when the tiny club from the Basque region celebrated their greatest 90 minutes of football last week by knee-capping one of the giants of Spanish, if not European football.

I'm sure there was a Manchester United spy among the 5,311 whose purpose was to detect any weaknesses in the Sevilla style of play. He'll be reporting back to Jose Mourinho with pages and pages of notes as Eibar blasted five goals.

Dining at the top table of Spanish football is a guest that is happy to take the scraps from the plates of elite among them, throw them into a pan and come up with tasty tapas that nobody has ever experienced before.

Eibar take the cast-offs from elsewhere, give them shelter, a sense of being and re-launch their footballing lives.

Last week's hero was Fabián Orellana, a Chilean who was (professionally) destitute. His parent club Valencia had sent him out into the warmth of a football stadium just once since the summer. He headed north where they gave him a home.

Orellana has repaid the kind folk by scoring on his debut, creating a goal against Alavés and then recreating memories of his happy days by hitting two past Sevilla.

This is a happy place for footballers who had lost their way. Collectively they are creating a storm.

There's Iván Ramis who was measured for a Wembley suit at Wigan; his swollen knee prevented him from changing out of it and he's floated around the football world like a lost soul since.

The goalkeeper is a 26-year-old Serbian whose career peaked with five Championship games for Charlton Athletic. The leading scorer is a Brazillian called Charles, who was unwanted at Malaga and very few are unwanted at Malaga. International flavour is given by Takashi Inui, a Japan international who floated around Germany before settling in Eibar.

I'm not sure how Inui arrived in Eibar; he could have used it as a pit stop on a train as the settlement is almost exactly half way between Bilbao and San Sebastián. Those cities have glorious, title-winning pasts yet they are overshadowed by this outpost.

When Eibar installed floodlights back in 1970, it was felt that their players were not worthy enough to be the first to be illuminated so Athletic and Real Sociedad were invited to play an exhibition.

Now they are in the shadows of a team who represent a population of 27,500.

Eibar are the leading Basque team and likely to make the Europa League if their run of one defeat in eleven Liga matches can be maintained.

The only danger is that the man from UEFA may not pass the municipal stadium as fit for purpose and they will have to ask a favour of their footballing cousins and borrow their homes for a few midweek soirées.