To say Sporting is to say youth
Gijón is synonymous with Sporting and Sporting is synonymous with Mareo. To speak about Mareo is to speak about youth teams, the future, promising quality and talent as well as Asturian identity. Real Sporting de Gijón is a club that is more than one hundred years old and is intrinsically connected to its youth setup. The red and white club has spent its entire existence in producing local talent and continues to do so. On more than one occasion, they produced memorable players that went on to create history for the club, but also further afield. Nearly twenty footballers coming out of the ranks of Sporting went on to represent the Spanish national team.
Memorable youth team players
From Manuel Meana, in the 1920s to the triangle of Luis Enrique-Abelardo-Juanele, making their Spanish national team debuts in the 90s, legendary players such as Quini, Uría, Cundi, Joaquín, Maceda, Eloy Olalla and Gatu Ablanedo make up a stellar history of Sporting players. All of these players represented Spain at an international tournament. Interestingly, between the World Cup of 1978 in Argentina and 1994 in the United States, Sporting was always represented with at least one player in the national team. All of these players –with the exception of Valencia born Maceda– were Asturian locals and developed in the Sporting setup.
Mareo: where Sporting’s future is developed
Investing in local talent has always been the pillar of Sporting’s philosophy. Creating the sports complex Mareo (the name given to the Ángel Viejo Feliú football academy) is the perfect example of this policy. In 1976, Íñigo Churruca, a young Basque forward on the books of Sporting had left Gijón. His move to Athletic Club brought 50 million pesetas to Sporting’s kitty. At the time, this was a big amount of money and the club’s management decided to invest the sum into creating a sports complex which was a pioneering move in Spain. It was in those facilities that numerous footballers were formed and developed into household names. Even during financially tough moments, the youth setup helped to sustain the club’s first team. When Sporting got promoted to the First Division in 2015 and managed to maintain itself in the league, the average age of the squad coached by Pitu Abelardo was extremely young having been made up of youth team players. Mareo has always been a source of sustainability for the club and the city. In 2001, the sports complex saved the club financially as it was sold to the Gijón city council. Since then, Sporting and its youth teams train on the grounds by renting the facilities.
Villa, the emblematic Sporting player
Selling the ownership of the Mareo facilities didn’t stop the production of more talented youth players. Along with the previously mentioned names, and perhaps above all, was David Villa Sánchez. The striker known commonly as ‘El Guaje’ propelled his career from Mareo. Before he went on to score 38 goals in the Spanish Second Division with the first team, Villa had scored fourteen goals with the reserve team in the Segunda B division.
The reserve team, an indispensable team in Spain’s Segunda B
Sporting B –formerly known as Sporting Atlético and, prior to that, simply Gijón– has always served the club as a testing ground for its promising young players. On Sunday, Ibiza’s supporters will be able to get a taste of what the club currently has on offer in terms of talented youngsters. The reserve team travels to Can Misses to prove that it is an historic side of the Segunda B competition. Given the opposition’s history and trajectory of producing renowned footballers, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to round 26 in what promises to be a match between two quality sides.
Image: Real Sporting Gijón, Pablo Albalá