Among the lessons that Eneko Elósegui taught in an orphanage in Uganda, where he was a math, science and English teacher for a few months in 2017, there was one that was not on the program and has ended up going around the world: the song Osasuna never gives up. This 44-year-old from Pamplona showed it to a group of primary school students one Saturday, outside of class, to support his team. “That night we played against Real Madrid. The team was having a hard time and I wanted to record them to send a message of support, ”he recalls. Although the harangue had no effect –the whites ended up winning 1-3 at El Sadar–, that video that he shared six years ago with his relatives on WhatsApp (and that CA Osasuna ended up publishing on their social networks at that time) has had an unpredictable resurface: it accumulates millions of TikTok visits and has pushed the LaLiga Santander club to quadruple its virtual followers in just a few months.
The 20 seconds of footage that Elósegui recorded with his mobile phone saw the light again last September. It is not very well known who was the first, but dozens of accounts began to upload the video to their TikTok profiles. Hours later, Osasuna’s social media team detected the trend and also shared it. He was followed, in the days that followed, by many others with pieces in which they commented on or reinterpreted the rojillo chant: the youtuber DjMaRiiO (3.3 million followers), the Russian Zenit Saint Petersburg (5.5 million followers), the musical duo Twin Melody (18.6 million followers) and a legion of boys and girls from other cities in Spain and from countries like Chile, Argentina or the United States who began to sing it in schools.
“I am going with 60 third and fourth grade students. In Madrid. On the bus ‘Osasuna never gives up’ sounds in unison. Without anyone being from Osasuna. I don’t understand…”, commented a teacher, under the pseudonym of @llillitto, On twitter. “My second year ESO students are also with it. It happens in all the courses and in other communities”, a colleague responded on the same platform.
The sudden osasunista fever caught the author of a planetary success off guard who, under the hashtag #osaunanuncaserinde, has accumulated close to 375 million views on TikTok. “I just had my second child and I lead a rather monastic life… I found out because my mother-in-law told me and then journalists from the Diary of Navarre, from the sports press, from Basque television… I never thought it could have such an impact. I saw it, and I see it, as one more video”, confesses Elósegui.
The truth, however, is that the recording has contributed to the unprecedented growth of the virtual community around Osasuna. The club took advantage of the pull to show its stars, such as Chimy Ávila, reciting the song’s motto, to place the slogan on a stadium ring or to share the works that some artists uploaded to their profiles with that same inscription. In little more than half a year, and thanks to a studied strategy in networks with all kinds of content, they have gone from 850,000 followers to 4 million on social networks, of which about 70% are foreigners (previously they only represented 30% ).
“Since June we have three specialized profiles in the digital area and we publish on six platforms and in five languages. The growth is also explained by signings such as the Moroccan Abde. Thanks to him we have more Facebook followers in Casablanca than in Pamplona”, explains Aitor Royo, Osasuna’s press officer. “For us, this international presence is vital to open up to new markets, attract sponsors and thus increase our income,” he adds.
A story of resistance and solidarity
Osasuna never gives up, a reflection of that fighting idiosyncrasy that identifies El Sadar, has become popular at a favorable moment, with the team in the Copa del Rey semifinals and fighting again, as in the last three seasons, at the top of the league championship. The song, however, was born at a time of difficulty, as an exercise in resistance after being relegated to LaLiga SmartBank in 2014 and when they were even close to falling to Second B in 2015.
Elósegui remembers it well because he worked at the club from 2011 to 2015 as a tutor for players from outside Navarra who came to the rojilla youth academy and he met many who later joined the first team. In fact, some of them, like the goalkeeper Juan Pérez, ended up receiving in 2017, before facing Real Madrid, the original video that he had the idea of recording in Uganda, where he traveled for four months as a volunteer for an NGO to work as soccer teacher and coach.
The professor, currently employed as an administrator in Pamplona, emphasizes that another of the values Osasuna displays on this trip was also demonstrated: solidarity. “I traveled with 46 kilos of clothes that filled two briefcases. The Osasuna Foundation got involved and I was able to distribute many t-shirts and also sports equipment. For example, I promised the children who recorded the video that if they learned the song I would give them a red T-shirt and I did so”, he says.
Although he doubts that his former Ugandan students have found out about his sudden popularity, the success of the video has reawakened in him that passion for Osasuna that he had left in the background due to his second paternity. Elósegui concludes the story of his story with a purpose: to go more to that stadium where a song was born that has become popular throughout the planet. “This season I have only gone two or three times. And every time I go I say to myself: I don’t know why I don’t come more, with what amuses me this”.
If you want to discover more stories like this, go to… Issues