Home to historical towns, magnificent climates and food Andalusia is one of the most attractive regions in the whole of Spain. The autonomous Spanish community is also home to one of the fiercest derbies in the world, three footballing powerhouses and an impressively long list of players who have came out of the region.

Spanish football has always had a massive emphasis on youth and this region is no different; Real Betis, Malaga and particularly Sevilla have always realied heavily on youth. In recent times, Malaga have placed a huge importance on introducing younger players into their first team activites, which is more out of necessity than choice, but the benefits are already being felt in a financial sense. Since the removal of support from their Qatari owners, Malaga have made youth development one of their most important revenue streams. The departure of both Samu’s and Sergi Darder to Villarreal and Lyon respectively has signalled that the conveyor belt has finally stuttered into motion with the absence of a big financial backer. What is most impressive is that Javi Garcia and Malaga continue to improve despite their average age being particularly young.

Down the coast into the city of Seville both, Real Betis and Sevilla have been using youth as a fundamental part of their club policy and as such have been producing players for many years. However, despite their successful business model a criticism of Sevilla is that their current squad only boasts three players from Andalusia – a far cry from the teams that housed the likes of Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas who went on to be sn integral part of Vicente Del Bosque’s European and World Cup winning teams. Their recent emphasis on buying in foreign players has limited the influence home grown players have had on the fortunes of the team. But the fans do not seem to have a care in the world as Unai Emery and his legion of foreign players are currently going through their most successful period. However, prodigal son Jose Antonio Reyes and goalkeeper Sergio Rico continue to fly the Andalusian flag at the Sanchez Pizjuain.

Betis, however, are seen as a club of the people and are completely apathetical of their bigger brothers across the city. Their recent relegation to La Segunda meant that foreign imports were shed in a bid to cut their wage bill. A situation that draws similarities with Malaga, although Los Boquerones (Anchovies) were never relegated. As such, Betis have 9 Andalusians in their squad of 23 inclusive of one of the most exciting prospects in Spanish football. Dani Ceballos actually began his player career as a Sevilla player, before they released him. Since then, the 19 year old has gone on to become an integral part of Spain’s U19 squad as well as one of the most important squad members in the full Betis side. A creative player, who relies heavily on pace and skill he is one of the most coveted players in Europe. Betis also produced one of the most exciting players Spanish football has produced in recent times, Joaquín, and despite his lengthy career doesn’t seem to have gained the plaudits he deserves.

Outside of of the three giants, Andalusians have made their mark on football all over Spain and as well as the rest of the World. Just above the coast of Portugal in Vigo, Nolito is proving to be particularly outstanding playing in the left-wing position for Celta and looks as though he may return to Barcelona where he failed to make the grade first time round. In London, former Real Betis goalkeeper Adrian, is playing a vital role in West Ham’s ascension to the top half of the Premier League.

Andalusia has produced so many footballers that you could make a team that could easily challenge teams across Europe. An all time selected XI would look something like this:

Adrian (West Ham); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid) Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Juantio (Betis); Isco (Real Madrid), Samu (Villarreal) Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla), Joaquín (Betis), Nolito (Celta Vigo); Jesus Navas (Manchester City).

About the Author – Ben Jarman

Freelance football writer with a penchant for Spanish and European football. Work published by Fulham FC, Italian FA and the Evening Standard.

Twitter: @sonikkicks


Share this article: