Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football

 

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Former Real Madrid youngster Javier Balboa currently plies his trade in Portugal, for top flight club Beira-Mar. The pacy, and at times controversial, right winger joined the Real academy in 1999 from Segunda B side Alcala. In 2004 he played for the C team, and the next season moved up to the B team. He did well for both sides, playing more than sixty times over these two seasons, before joining Racing Santander on loan for the 2006-07 campaign, after being told he wasn’t in manager Fabio Capello’s plans for the upcoming season.

 

It was in Cantabria that Balboa came to the forefront, and put his name in the spotlight. He made thirty appearances in La Liga for Racing, and scored one goal. While most of his games were from the bench, he did enough to earn new Real boss Bernd Schuster that he was worthy of a place in the first team squad at Bernabeu. He toured with the first team during preseason, as he had the year before, but this time he impressed, playing on both wings and scoring.

 

Unfortunately, he was unable to hold down a regular place in the squad, making just seven substitute appearances in La Liga and the Champions League. He also got into a physical confrontation with Pepe, which helped lead to his exit from the club. In June 2008, he signed a four year deal with Portuguese giants Benfica. However, the move quickly took a turn for the worse, as he rarely featured in his first season, and in his second year in Lisbon he was demoted to the reserves following a dispute over wages.

 

Things didn’t improve, and in January 2010 he was loaned to Spanish Second Division side Cartagena for the remainder of the season. He made eleven league appearances before returning to Benfica the following summer. However, his relationship with the club was beyond repair, and he didn’t make another appearance for them. Instead, he was restricted to just training for the first months of the 2010-11 season before being farmed out on loan to the Segunda for a second time, this time to Albacete. Again, though, he failed to make an impact, playing only half a dozen times.

 

The summer of 2011 saw Balboa and Benfica’s uneasy relationship come to an end, with the player rescinding his contract, which still had twelve months to run. He signed for Beira-Mar a few days later, and seems to have settled in quite well. He has made thirty seven appearances so far, and scored seven goals, by far the most productive spell of his career, both in terms of appearances and goals. Mind you, it is about time he got his act together and started putting in some performances after his past troubles.

 

While he was born in Madrid, twenty seven year old Balboa chose to play international football for his ancestral homeland, Equatorial Guinea, rather than try and get into La Seleccion. A good decision, I’m sure you’ll agree! He has fourteen caps to his name, and one goal; the opening goal of the 2012 Africa Cup Of Nations, and the only goal of the game with Libya.

 

If he has finally found a club that is happy with him, and one where he is also content, then he might be able to play more regularly (he’s barely played 150 games in an eight year professional career), and fulfill a little of the potential that prompted Real Madrid to sign him fourteen years ago.

 

 

James On March - 22 - 2013

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