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Nobody does homage like Sevilla

It’s often said that football doesn’t have a memory, but that’s not true. The phrase is thrown around from time to time when a player is coming to the end of his career. It’s a difficult moment for a player – a moment when he notices that he has become a hindrance to the coach, the fans, the press and even the back-room staff, who all want young blood to come in to replace him.

But that moment is transitory and the lasting truth comes later: Planet Football will always appreciate its heroes for the good times. And yesterday it was the turn of Pablo Blanco, who was inducted into Sevilla’s Hall of Fame yesterday at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium.

Pablo Blanco also marks 50 years at Sevilla. He arrived as a youth player, played 415 games for the club, and then remained involved with the youth academy after his playing days. A courageous player who never gave up, he was thick-skinned and mature from an early age. He learned from his elders (Eloy), he passed on what he learned to youngsters (Montera) and he welcomed outsiders (Scotta and Bertoni). And he did his job more than well, stopping the likes of Cruyff, Kempes, Cardeñosa and Leivinha. Later he went on to oversee the youth academy, from which he selected three world champions: Ramos, Marchena and Navas.

Yesterday he deservedly entered Sevilla’s Hall of Fame, a sober act of glorification which to me demonstrates football at its best. Present at the ceremony were Sevilla players from several generations, as well as some rival Verdiblancos from Betis, which was nice to see. The presence of Athletic Bilbao legend and current president Josu Urrutia also enriched the value of this perfectly simple and humble ceremony. It left me thinking how well Sevilla does these things better than others and how little it would cost other clubs to do the same.

Football is business, and it is good that it is, but it is also a repository of collective memory that it is nice to honour in the way that Sevilla does.