It is impossible to think of this Cup finalist Osasuna (Saturday 6, 10:00 p.m., La1 and Movistar; against Madrid) and that the name of Enrique Martín Monreal (Campanas, Navarra; 67 years old), the coach who saved the team from two relegations to Second B (1997 and 2015) and who led the promotion to First in 2016 in the midst of a serious economic crisis. If he isn’t the most defining red-and-white character of the last three decades, he won’t be far off. At least he is the miracle man. Without his mediation as a desperate resource to rescue him from the mud, nobody knows what would have happened to the current Osasuna, management model, renovated stadium, recently saved days ago and contender for his first title [este martes visita el Camp Nou; 19.30, DAZN; mientras el Madrid va a Anoeta, a las 22.00, Movistar].
Martín speaks in gushes and does not dodge anything. “I am an authentic and natural uncle”, he defines himself. “I was one of the most discussed soccer players in El Sadar, and also one of the most applauded,” he concedes. He played 306 games with the Navarrese team (1979-88) and scored 60 goals with a “very anarcho” game, regardless of tactics. He spent 170 games on the Osasunista bench, always claimed at the last minute, when things were very ugly. But, above all, what has guided his speech is the “obsession with the quarry”. At this point, almost everything seems little to him. “I’m overly romantic,” he admits.
Pamplona has been breathing for a month due to the lung of the cup match. However, the coach arrives at the cafeteria of a well-known hotel mid-morning, asks for a coffee with milk, a bun, and the first thing he answers when asked about the final is: “Kontuz [cuidado en euskera]”. “It gives me yuyu. I fear there is a success binge because when you have a lot of money, you can get confused. Now we are fine, but we were also fine in the other final  and when we got to europe [semifinalista de la UEFA en 2007]. And how did it all end? I think the cycles repeat themselves, but hey, let’s enjoy the moment”, it starts The witch of Bells with her classic long, straight, long hair, already grey.
I put the quarry before the results and the category. I still bump into a lot of people
From that fall into the abyss of Segunda B, Osasuna was saved in 2015 with him in charge, in Sabadell and with a goal from the youth squad Miguel Flaño in discount. “Racing was relegated, which is in Second Division today and thank you. His story could have been ours, ”he warns. His recipe, in good times and bad, is a riot for the people at home and fight without fear in the mud. “I would like the commitment to the quarry to be more radical. I prefer not to play the Cup final and have 11 guys from Tajonar every Sunday [su ciudad deportiva]. I have come to see a lineup in which none was from here. I didn’t care about that team. I am not against people from abroad, but four or five who make a difference and then those from home, those who give you the essence, the feeling of belonging. I put the quarry before the results and the category. I still run into a lot of people ”, he exposes convinced and enthusiastic.
The life of the rojillos, in his opinion, should run between First and the first seven positions in Second. No drama. “Being fifth from the bottom shouldn’t generate any frustration. But history says that people get tired and everything seems little to them. We want more and then we have to spend more”, continues Martín, who also demands better salary treatment for the young man from Tajonar. “Why does the youth squad charge less? Now it seems that he is getting closer, but it still seems little to me. Why can’t he be the best paid? ”, he laments.
In his three spells on the bench (1993-94, 1996-99 and 2015-17), almost his only leitmotiv, in addition to avoiding sports collapse, were, of course, the boys raised in the warmth of the home. “If I played a game with seven, the next day I thought about doing it with eight,” he says. His obsession, he continues, was to inject them with the “competitiveness gene.” “Since they were 15 years old, my demands were very high, even excessive. I admit that it could hurt, but whoever overcame it was a professional, ”she confesses. Defender of round-trip football, French physical exuberance, centers and long balls, his thing was not to teach them tactics and technique. “Today he is too corseted from the base. The footballer is so because of his talent, not because of the coach on duty. I gave them some guidelines, but then they had to be them. He told him: ‘if you play for me, you’re dead, you end up in the stands,’ he recalls proudly.
He told the player: ‘if you play for me, you’re dead’
Osasuna was his only professional club as a player, the one that briefly promoted him to the national team (two games), and his great love for soccer; although also, according to his words, a brake. Madrid wanted him in 1982, but the president, Fermín Ezcurra – an austere and upright man who prevented the club from being a public limited company – denied him the exit. “That hurt me a lot, not every day Madrid loves you. It is a thorn because it would have grown a lot, ”he assures. The whites, he points out, offered 100 million pesetas for him plus three loans.
“It was difficult for me to close that wound and I needed psychological help, through sophrology and visualization, to overcome my laziness and frustration. People yelled at me about everything in El Sadar, nonsense, barbarities, and there came a point where the only way to play was to convince myself that there was no public”, recalls Martín Monreal, who for years has also offered coaching to other footballers. “I’m passionate about the subject,” she exclaims several times.
It hurt me a lot that Osasuna didn’t let me go to Madrid
If he had fulfilled his desire to leave, he would have had to live on the other (enemy) shore in the turbulent Osasuna-Madrid of the eighties, with the throwing of screws, a piglet trotting on the grass in Juanito’s shirt and, finally, a game suspended due to incidents. “The social and political moment was very tense, and that was transferred to the stadium. It was brutal. It put us to the max. We didn’t think, we ran. You saw that they had a worse time than in any other field, although they did not lose control either, ”he recounts.
That fever has already gone down, although the final in Seville will raise the revolutions again. There will be Enrique Martín Monreal, the man who saved Osasuna twice from the precipice and raised him to the elite on another.
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