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LaLiga relegation: Cádiz is the Great Houdini of Spanish football


If Real Madrid’s hallmark is turning around impossible European ties, Cadiz’s is avoiding relegation in extreme conditions. Something like the Great Houdini - chained and placed in a box that’s thrown into a river and yet somehow he comes out swimming happily. Cádiz’s history of dramatic last-day survivals is long. I vividly remember the first time I saw Kiko, still a youngster, who was the hero of a decisive victory against Zaragoza having been brought on late in the second half. The former player recalled it well yesterday, as a commentator on Radio SER in Spain.

Cádiz’s most remarkable escape

The next year Cádiz’s escape was unprecedented. It was the season of the relegation play-offs in the Spanish league, which have never been repeated. Cádiz finished bottom of the standard league season. The bottom six played a mini-league, from which three would go down. And Cádiz finished last again. Suddenly the Spanish Football Federation announced that in fact only one would go down, in order to increase the number of clubs in the first division, and Irigoyen, the Cádiz president, demanded a new play off featuring the three bottom clubs. He got his way, and Cádiz, Racing Santander and Osasuna played another mini-league... and Racing Santander went down. Michael Robinson had just arrived at Osasuna and the incredible manoeuvre from Irigoyen led to him falling in love with Cádiz.

Granada relegated, Cádiz escape

Wherever he is now, the legendary striker would have enjoyed yesterday’s events, seeing Cádiz once again escape from between the devil and the deep blue sea. Of the three teams involved they were in the worst position. They needed to win and for Mallorca and Granada not to. And that’s what happened. They won, thanks to a fine second half, and avoided the drop thanks to a disaster from Granada, who missed a penalty. The Andalusians were best-placed, playing at home against Espanyol, who have been zombie-like in LaLiga for weeks now, but their draw, along with the wins for Mallorca in Pamplona (an easy one) and Cádiz’s heroics in Vitoria, with a backdrop of rain, hail and thunder, sent them down. And because Houdini plays for Cádiz.

Players of Cadiz CF celebrate following the LaLiga Santander match between Deportivo Alaves and Cadiz CF.
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Players of Cadiz CF celebrate following the LaLiga Santander match between Deportivo Alaves and Cadiz CF.Juan Manuel Serrano ArceGetty

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