What a week in Vila-real, for better and worse.
The highs: Only the third sellout in El Madrigal history. Jony Pereira's match-winner. Days of celebrations. A much-anticipated return to La Liga.
The lows: The sudden demise of club historian Pepe Herrera Boira. The anniversary of Manolo Preciado's passing. The first departures from the immortal 2012-13 squad -- Joan Oriol and Joan Truyols.
Now Wednesday morning local time brings the farewell of Marcos Senna. Captain. Leader. Philanthropist. Idol. Champion. Legend.
363 games with the Yellow Submarine over 11 seasons. Runner-up in La Liga (without playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid), semifinalist in every major European club competition, and the best player for the Euro 2008 champions. 30-odd goals, including arguably the most spectacular strike I have ever seen.
GOLAZO DE SENNA DESDE EL MEDIO CAMPO AL BETIS (via trevinho22)
But Senna's presence in our hearts is about much more than numbers and trophies. I will always remember him with sweat on his brow -- his work ethic was never in question. And his smile was contagious -- you never doubted that he loved his job.
When so much else changed around him, Senna was a constant. After two seasons of acclimatization, Senna made less than 30 appearances only once in his final nine campaigns in yellow. He outlasted the likes of Diego Forlán, Manuel Pellegrini, Juan Román Riquelme, and Giuseppe Rossi. And like one of his long-time teammates Javi Venta, he kept at bay Father Time and younger competition for his position for years.
The news of Senna's departure brings mixed emotions.
The negatives: Losing your leader and identity for so many years -- a blow to any organization. And you wonder if Villarreal management could have done more -- was Senna really asking for so much in contract negotiations?
The positives: Senna's long and storied career in yellow. His return last season to guide the team out of the Segunda. His presence at the final whistle against Almería. The lasting image of Senna being feted by his teammates.
11 am Spanish time. Gate 19. El Madrigal. Farewell to a legend. Hasta pronto, Marcos.