With club legend Sergio Asenjo making the move to Valladolid, I reached out to friend of the site Marti Devlin, who is a Real Valladolid supporter. We did a really interesting Q and A with him about the club a couple years ago that you can read here.
Here is what Marti had to say about Asenjo arriving at his club:
I am so excited by this signing! On a personal level, Sergio Asenjo is my favourite active goalkeeper. He is my second favourite goalkeeper of all time, runner-up only to Iker Casillas. That’s how highly I respect this guy. He is the reason I became interested in Real Valladolid and, subsequently, set my adventure with the club in motion.
I was hugely into the Spanish national team at the time and got to watching some of the 2009 Under-21 European Championships. Being such a Casillas devotee at the time, I was impressed by Asenjo’s performances in the tournament and felt like I was possibly watching the natural successor to the great man. It was shortly after the conclusion of the tournament that Asenjo made his big move to Atleti, but it made me look into his career in Valladolid and sparked my interest in the club for the first time.
What makes the signing of Asenjo so appealing to Real Valladolid fans is not just the fact that he is a local boy, having been born in Palencia which is a little over half an hour’s drive from the Estadio José Zorrilla, but that he has already etched his name into team history with a series of stellar performances across different levels, even making his senior debut before kicking a competitive ball for the club’s B-team!
He made his first-team debut in October 2006, in a two-legged fourth round Copa del Rey tie with Gimnàstic de Tarragona while second-choice goalkeeper for the club’s B-team, Real Valladolid Promesas. He didn’t appear for the Promesas in competitive action until almost two months later.
After being called up to the first-team squad to face, ironically, Atlético Madrid in Matchday 13 of the 2007/08 season, his first taste of league action came when he squared off against none other than Villarreal the following week. Asenjo kept a clean sheet as the Blanquivioletas ran out 2-1 winners over Manuel Pellegrini’s side. In fact, Asenjo kept his opponents at bay in four of his first five starts between the posts.
He was the starter in the first 13 league matches of the 2008/09 campaign, but missed the next 14 due to a torn meniscus which would foreshadow later injury woes. He returned to play in the final ten matches of the campaign and, although he did not finish any of them on the winning side, his efforts were never more apparent than on the final matchday of the season.
Real Valladolid, perilously close to the drop zone, travelled south to take on a wounded Real Betis outfit in desperate need of a win to avoid relegation themselves. Asenjo emerged as the hero, pulling off a string of saves including denying a Ricardo Oliveria header from point blank range with the score poised at 1-1 and little more than 15 seconds of the 90 minutes to play.
This consigned the Andalusians to the Second Division while José Luis Mendilibar and his troops lived to contest the top tier for another season.
Although Sergio Asenjo’s time as a first-team player with Real Valladolid was brief, he has a strong history with the club which has been reflected by the joy from the fans at his return.
A popular figure on and off the field, the goalkeeper is a great example of a strong youth development system and he will slot in with fellows Promesas graduates Toni Villa and Anuar already in the squad. This will serve as further motivation for young players eyeing a berth in the senior ranks.
Perhaps just as importantly the fans will relish having another local boy to cheer on in their beloved team. On a more cynical level, Ronaldo may well be hoping that Asenjo’s return will distract the ire of the fans over the controversial decision to change the club crest – a move that has drawn criticism from the majority of supporters.
It remains to be seen whether or not current number one Jordi Masip will give way to the prodigal son, having just signed a contract extension until 2024 a little over a week ago.
What is certain, though, is that the move spells the end for Roberto Jiménez’s time at the club. The gloves are well and truly off for the goalkeeping competition, but the smart money must be on the new arrival being between the posts to welcome his former club to the José Zorrilla on August 13th!
Thanks Marti for sharing and best of luck to Sergio whenever he’s playing anyone other than Villarreal. Endavant Asenjo!