In Valladolid few know José Rojo Martín but many turn their heads if they see or hear Pacheta. The 54-year-old Real Valladolid coach has seen his anonymity diluted between sporting successes after a promotion in Pucela and a few months in the First Division with the team out of relegation with 27 points. Pacheta works under a premise: “Love”. The one from Salas de los Infantes (Burgos, 1,970 inhabitants) applies “normality” to show himself in the dressing room as he is, treating the footballer as he has raised his children. “Affection works everywhere”, exclaims the man from Burgos, even in this football that he has to “reconsider so that he continues to be human and not divine”.
Pacheta sighs at the enormous dissemination that what he believes is normal has had: telling his center back Javi Sánchez not to play against Espanyol this Sunday because his partner was going to give birth. The defender followed the victory from the hospital and soon Marco was born, nine months after Pucela’s promotion. “We are doing something right or wrong, I don’t know, if this has such an impact,” says the coach, who asks to bring football closer: “We have to reconsider so that it continues to be human and not divine.” The vehicle is the emotion, “to make the fan fall in love and leave proud.” “Many people come to football in Valladolid, it’s the right path,” says the thin, gray-haired coach at the José Zorrilla stadium.
The human and professional facets are intertwined, as Pacheta grew up in rural austerity and worked as a carpenter before settling down in soccer. Numancia or Espanyol saw his abilities as a defender before looking for a life in Poland, Thailand and many benches before the pucelano. He manages the staff, he assures as if he were insultingly normal, like the home: “I have no differences with how I educate my children.” The coach gestures and brandishes an imaginary stick to portray how he sets limits for his children and his players that, if exceeded, will mean firewood: “We work better with love than with a stick, I set the limits, it is the power of being a parent or coach ”. Everyone seeks to “stretch the limit”, at which point authority must prevail. His daughter and his son, aged 29 and 24, think he is tough while his footballers range from “soft” to “sergeant.” The greatest compliment, he boasts, “that the players say that our great virtue is to be normal.” “I try to apply normality, life has taught me to have good will. I have cruel anecdotes or dismissals [fue despedido del Cartagena porque una bruja se lo recomendó al presidente]. We all have reasons to be sad, but the attitude is decided by us”, reflects the man from Burgos, who exclaims “Passion!” as life guide.
The year and a half in Valladolid has brought him incomparable joys such as promotion, at home and unexpected. To do this, he defends united groups, without fear of “sacrificing football quality to human quality, I prefer someone loyal to a good player who raises doubts.” The “lapidary” market windows allow you to move the tab: “I value the health of the group more than the individual, including mine”. “When you not only run for yourself, but for the one next to you, for his wife, for his children, you achieve unimaginable goals,” he settles. Pacheta has a career linked to modest teams, but if he went to a big one he would maintain a model: “Love works everywhere, if someone doesn’t want love, then professional treatment.” The Javi Sánchez episode makes him smile, which he soon freezes when he alludes to when the grandfather of one of his men died, granting him a week off because they were very close, or the brother of a player, treated with “kisses” and ” honey”: “A player who has the problem 500 kilometers away is not here, even if you want to put him because he is present”. Years ago he freed a player from a match to do, and pass, a Police opposition. Today he is an agent. He also doesn’t care that the kids have exams and miss sessions: “They’ll train in the afternoon!” Everything, out of selfishness: “It is easier to reach agreements with those who have more keys thanks to the study.”
Social networks, unprecedented in his time, displease him: “Before, the village idiot was only heard in the bar, now in Australia.” The coach is learning to digest defeats, but they still cause him a lot of silence at home, a fundamental “process” for mental health. His right-back Luis Pérez admits that a psychologist has boosted his career and Pacheta extols these consultations, key in an essential “environment” for success: “You choose the people who accompany you, the family is given.” Only they herd stars who can go astray without a slap on the wrist in time. Pucela thanks him, returns the love, but he has lost the intimacy of walking quietly: “Now they even ask me for photos in town, but I am Pacheta’s son and Jeni’s husband!” Pacheta admits that it is harder to be a fisherman, but that football does not have days off, does not allow you to eat or drink what you want or implies mortgaging your health. His knees and back attest, although he manages to paddle tennis to the surprise of his doctor.
The profession entails sacrifices: “My family is well off, but unstructured, I would not have trained in First Division without a stable environment that understands me.” Valladolid allows him for the first time to be close to his father, who lives in Salas at 90 and is “ill”, and his wife and son, in Soria. The largest, in Barcelona, an hour away by plane. The coach is moved when he explains that after so many ups and downs now he only fears for the health of his family: “In one year I lost my mother and my sister, that teaches you what you are afraid of.” Before heading to Zorrilla’s intestines and continuing to prepare the appointment against Elche, he only asks that life follow his law: “That my children bury me and I bury my father.”
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits