It has been two decades since Sevilla FC were relegated at the Carlos Tartiere after 22 consecutive years in the top flight. That painful episode did not finish off Sevilla FC, and after overcoming difficult and turbulent times, the club has risen back to where they belong
It may have been twenty years ago today, but the image of Sevilla FC distraught at the Carlos Tartiere remains. In truth, that image of collective anguish will always be relevant, because in the aftermath of even the most painful defeats, you learn and you grow, something which Sevilla have shown over the course of the current century.
From the tragedy of relegation from the top flight, to playing 13 seasons out of a possible 14 in Europe, five of those in the Champions League, and lifting nine trophies, six of which were European... It's the incredible story, from tough beginnings, of Sevilla FC over the last two decades, the evidence that a club's strength, with the backing its fans, can overcome any hardships which might come their way.
Relegation in Oviedo has remained a difficult moment, but it made Sevilla FC stronger
It seemed like the end, but the passage of time has allowed that tragic episode to make Sevilla FC stronger. It may have been difficult to stay afloat, but the club were not defeated in those hard times, and have, in fact, drastically altered their status in a 21st century in which successes and triumphs have become the common theme.
Sevilla FC went to the Carlos Tartiere needing three points if they were to avoid relegation from the top flight after 22 consecutive years in the Primera División. This was not just another game, it was 90 minutes of drama which ended cruelly with a goal from Maqueda in the 89th minute.
Julián Rubio sent out a starting line up of Unzué, Velasco, Hibic, Ramis, Prieto, Tsartas, Oulida, Prosinecki, Marcos Marín de la Fuente, Loren and José Mari. They could not do anything, and nor could Salva or Mornar later on, to prevent the disaster that had been brewing slowly since the previous summer and that not even Carlos Salvador Bilardo could stop when he was contracted late on to arrest the decline.
Reaching the end of the tunnel was not easy, but eventually Sevilla did so at a pace which defied the expectations of even the most optimistic of fans
What happened at the Carlos Tartiere marked an entire generation of Sevilla fans who did not remember their team playing in the second division. The tears flowed down the faces of some of the players who could do nothing to prevent the drop, but they were nonetheless received with graciousness by the numerous Sevilla fans who travelled to Oviedo hoping for a miracle in which it was difficult to believe.
Sevilla FC's relegation, confirmed at the Carlos Tartiere, seriously threatened the future of a club which had to cope with tough and turbulent years, moments of extreme difficulty when even the economic survival of the club was called into question. Reaching the end of the tunnel was not easy, but eventually Sevilla did so at a pace which defied the expectations of even the most optimistic of fans.
After returning to the top flight in 98/99 with Rafael Carrión as president -he took the reins two weeks before the match at the Tartiere- and Marcos Alonso in the dugout, Sevilla FC were relegated once again in the 99/00 season and did not stabilise their place in the Primera División until the current century. Roberto Alés's presidency turned out to be key in straightening out the club's situation and in getting the footballing aspect right with the appointment of Monchi as director of that side of the club and securing Joaquín Caparrós as first team manager. Then arrived José María del Nido. It was said that the best was yet to come and what came, in truth, was much more than the best. It all continued when José Castro assumed the presidency, prolonging the success and achievements which place Sevilla FC in a better position than anyone could have imagined. And there were tears in Eindhoven, Monaco, Glasgow, Madrid, Barcelona, Turin, Warsaw and Basel. And in many other places. But, unlike in Oviedo, they were tears of sheer joy.