The Tajik adventure of Manuel Bleda

first_imgManuel Bleda, on his stage in Istiklol Belarus and Tajikistan – with the permission of Nicaragua and Burundi – have become the last haven of hope for soccer fans around the world. There, nothing more and nothing less than in two of the few countries whose sport challenges COVID-19, played Manuel Bleda (Sagunto, 1990) between 2014 and 2016. The Valencia striker, now in the Kitchee in Hong Kong, remembers his time at Belshina and Istiklol. An adventure full of coincidences that led him to record his name in the history of the most important club in Tajikistan. Everything could change, yes, a year earlier, when his departure to the Belaz Torpedo ended up being interrupted for financial reasons: “I signed and did a preseason month in Antalya, but when I was in Spain finalizing the move they told me that they could not pay my training fees and they proposed to wait a year“Bleda, disappointed after seeing his first attempt to play abroad fail, ended up in Dani Pons’ Alzira, “a coach who has always brought out the best in me”. The Valencian striker lived one of the best seasons he remembers there. And in March siren songs came again from Belarus: “They called me back, but I was no longer the Torpedo“It was Belshina, against whom he had played a friendly match months before, the team that launched fully into Bleda:” It cost me because Alzira had become my family. People said that where he was going, that he was crazy, but I was very clear and I left. “And there, in Babruisk, a city of 230,000 inhabitants 340 kilometers from the border with Russia, he spent six months” full of good moments “:”The coach welcomed me like a son because he was the only one from the non-Russian speaking club. The only bad thing is that he did not charge“Manuel Bleda points out:” From time to time they gave something, 15 or 20%. We lived in a hotel and we hardly had any expenses, but it is difficult to endure such a long time. I had to leave, but when I left we had already saved the category, which was the main objective of the club “.To Tajikistan by chanceFrom Babruisk to Tajikistan to play for FC Istiklol. 3,600 kilometers that Manuel Bleda traveled by chance: “Mubin Ergashev, coach who combined the Tajik team with Istiklol, traveled to Belarus to visit the BATE stadium before playing a friendly there. We had to visit them and he saw me play. I did well and he was waiting for me when he left. He gave me his card and we met the next day. The conditions were very good and I came for five months without charge, so we agreed, “recalls Manuel Bleda from Hong Kong:” I was very happy there. We won all the local titles at stake and reached the final of the AFC Cup -Competition equivalent to the Europa League in Asia- “. Istiklol fell to Johor FC, which does not detract from the role he played in what was his first participation in the continental championship. “I didn’t realize I had scored the 500th goal until I got to the locker room. The president came down to congratulate me.”center_img “Istiklol is a very powerful club. The owner is the nephew of the country’s president and practically all the national team players have ever played there. When I was there it showed that he played for a big club, “recalls Bleda, who defines the Tajik player as” technically good but tactically scarce. “” The country’s president is investing a lot of money in improving infrastructure and I am sure that little by little they will increase their prestige in Asia. They have already grown a lot lately, although there is still a lot of distance between the top finishers and the rest, “adds the Valencia striker.During his stay in Dushanbe, the capital and largest city of Tajikistan, Manuel Bleda left his name engraved in the history of the Istiklol. He did it after signing the goal 500 In the history of the Tajik club in local competitions, something that he did not realize until the end of the match against Khujand FC: “I had no idea. I realized when, with the game over, everyone started congratulating me. Also the president, who went down to the locker room. ” In what was his first adventure in Asia, the Spaniard got used to playing in extreme temperatures and taking advantage of the altitude: “We played at 3,000 meters, something that we could get a lot of out of. The fields were filled from start to finish and I still have contact with some of the players I met. I have very good memories and I wish I could visit them one day“A bus as a locker roomManuel Bleda has fond memories of his adventure in Tajikistan, but nothing like the day his team, Istiklol, had to use the bus as a dressing room: “We were playing the Cup against a small team and when we got to the field we realized there was nothing else. No bleachers, no toilets … The funny thing came when the driver got on the bus with the suitcases and said that we had to change there. Suddenly people began to appear. We were in balls and everyone watching! It was cold and it was raining a lot, but it was very funny. There were no showers either, and we had to go home sweaty. It was three hours … Good thing the club paid for a hotel so we could wash up halfway. “last_img

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