Albacete Balompié is a club that revokes nostalgia among football lovers from the nineties. It is the first club from the Castilla La Mancha region to reach the Primera División. Nearly thirty years later, the club remains the only entity from its region to have played in the highest league: seven league campaigns in total divided in two periods.
The club made its debut in the top division in 1991/1992 on the back of two consecutive promotions. With Benito Floro as coach, Albacete finished in seventh position (the best result recorded by a debutant in the First Division), just a few points short of qualifying for the European competition the following season. During those magical years, the club referred to as Alba was also known as Queso Mecánico. José Luis Zalazar, a central midfielder from Uruguay with a special talent for striking the ball from distance, was the linchpin of a team with other known names such as the Costa Rican Conejo, Delfí Geli, the local players Catali and Coco and, up front, youth players Santi Denia and Fernando Morientes. Another famous player and product of the club is Andrés Iniesta, who despite moving to La Masia as a child, remains very connected to his native region and its team. It’s because of this that the club’s sports complex is named after the legendary Spanish international.
Founded in 1940 after a merger between two of the regions dominant clubs, Albacete spent the first 40 years competing mainly in the Third Division, with the exception of two seasons spent in the Second Division. The club began to grow in stature at the start of the eighties. In 1982, Alba got promoted to Segunda B, a category which was their predominant territory. In the last few years, the club spent some time in Segunda B. Its latest promotion to Segunda A took place in season 2016/2017, defeating tough teams such as Lorca, Atlético Baleares and Valencia Mestalla to regain a spot in the Liga de Fútbol Profesional.
In season 2017/2018, the club secured its status in the Second Division. Last season, Albacete took another step forward finishing fourth in the league, but falling short of promotion to La Liga by losing against Real Mallorca. Those results unified the supporters from the Carlos Belmonte stadium. Albacete is the sporting reference of its region. This summer, the club reached a record number of club memberships in the Segunda División A, issuing nine thousand season tickets. The side trained by Luis Miguel Ramis is currently trying to rediscover its form of last season. In its squad, there are a number of very experienced players. such as goalkeeper Tomeu Vidal, defenders José Antonio Caro and Álvaro Arroyo, midfielder Eddy Silvestre and forwards Pedro Sánchez and Ukrainian international Roman Zozulya. It’s with this squad that the team from Albacete will travel to Can Misses on Saturday to take on Ibiza for the first time in the Copa del Rey. It’s a match up between an historic club and one of the most exciting footballing projects in Spain which will surely bring the island to its feet.