Tuesday, April 16

Valentín returns the keys of Tercera to the Pueblonuevo

Technician Valentín is manteado in celebration of promotion. / JM Franco


He returns to a category that he has not stepped on for three years and in which he settled last decade with his now coach as a player

Manuel Garcia

In the past decade, the Pueblonuevo was carefully building, brick by brick, its home in the exclusive neighborhood of the Third Extremadura. In 2011, he gave the entry to acquire ownership of a plot in a district that he had only visited four times and whose longest stay lasted three years. That time he had come to stay and eight seasons as a full member gave him the status of classic in the fourth category.

One of the team’s construction managers was striker Valentín García Campos, captain and ‘alma mater’ who made goals, sacrifice and the experience he had gained in a prolific career that led him to the Second Division available to his home club with Badajoz and Mérida CP. With him in their ranks, the Las Vegas Bajas team achieved the three performances that appear on the entity’s honor roll, with two ninth and one eighth place.

The striker ended his career as a player in 2017, with an offer from Guadiana under his arm to make the transition from green to the bench. His work did not go unnoticed and a year later higher proposals arrived. El Montijo and ‘his’ Pueblonuevo, who at that time were active in the Third Division, knocked on his door to hand over the reins. But his time had not yet come.

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His word and his principles were stronger than the heart and the ambition to climb a step as a coach. “There were some things left to talk about, but I had already committed to the Guadiana and even though it is my town, I had to say no.” There he remained three years, while in parallel the Pueblonuevo consummated its relegation two campaigns later, accumulating a failed attempt to return to the following year despite finishing first in the regular phase.

The board thought of him and this time nothing stood between Valentín and his desire to lead the rojillos. “I agreed to take on the challenge, although with my feet on the ground, because the goal was to reach the playoffs and then go little by little.” After falling in the promotion phase in 2020/21, last weekend they managed to make up for it and unsealed the doors of the Third Division, which had been sealed for them for three years. Pueblonuevo faced the final duel against Campanario at the Antonio Amaya with the advantage of the first leg (0-1) thanks to Sergio Mesa’s goal. In the second leg, everything turned upside down for the locals with the expulsion of the visiting goalkeeper and goals from Medel and Liberal, which made it 3-0 on aggregate in the tie. But the team from the region of La Serena closed the gap through Johan before the break and a tangana with the involvement between soccer players and the stands clouded the party. “In 90 they made us 2-2 and we had to suffer in the last minutes of the discount.” The referee whistled and Valentín clenched his fists, hugged his brother, the physio, and then went straight to the stands to kiss his wife, “because she is the one who suffers with me every day” and to celebrate with his daughter and her parents.

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It didn’t take long for a tide of fans to dye a field red where several players lay on their knees, recovering their breath from the effort and assimilating the feat. «I have to thank them because they have been luxurious. That they get up at seven in the morning to work in the field and see them train with that enthusiasm is admirable. The technician, swollen with pride, exudes the satisfaction of something more than a success: “professionalism is not in the money you earn but in the commitment and involvement, and they have shown it.”

Valentín reconquered the bastion of Tercera with part of his old praetorian guard, who acted as squires in his last battles on the green. “There are about ten players on the squad from my time as a footballer. You know how I am, because sometimes you had to make decisions and I had to take the lead ». The rest of the squad is made up of young talents who add legs and enthusiasm to their experience.

The Pueblonuevo has been firm and authoritarian in a group 2 of Primera Extremeña in which six members who succumbed in the last playoff and two recently relegated were active, which intensified the fight for first place. And, furthermore, the beginning of the season was not easy. “They closed the town for 15 days due to covid and we couldn’t train or play friendlies in the summer, which slowed us down when it came to picking up the pace.” A similar scenario was repeated at Christmas and the only pothole they have gone through arrived. “We couldn’t prepare as much as we would have liked and on the return leg we lost two games, but then we came back to being ourselves and regularity was key”.

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Pueblonuevo clung to the lead and finished with 51 points, a club record in the division, scoring 8 against the second, conceding only 16 goals and turning goalkeeper Antonio into a ‘zamora’. “I like to be organized and start defending from the front,” he analyzes as a brushstroke on his booklet.

It’s early to look further, but Valentín acknowledges that “it would be nice to debut in the Third Division as a coach in my town, although if it doesn’t happen I’m not in a hurry.”


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