Àlex Granell has made history, once again, with Girona, beating Migue (222) in the number of white-and-red matches played in professional football. With Monday’s in Gijón, there are already 224, and it doesn’t seem that the Girona midfielder is willing to stop here. On the contrary, he still has many goals to cross, starting with the one he put between his eyebrows last year after the traumatic return to Second. Granell wants to return the club “of my life” to Primera, and does not plan to haggle efforts in the four remaining regular league games or the hypothetical play-off which would come next. And if Girona qualifies, for the promotion, maximum optimism: “We have the capacity and experience to face it with guarantees of success,” he said in an interview with the club’s media.
Granell’s professional adventure in Montilivi started on August 24, 2014, against Racing. His whole family was in the field and that, for him, was already an unimaginable success. He had been to the club in grassroots football, but had to leave to make a living. Until the end of the turbulent 2013/14 season, when the team was saved by the hairs of going down to Second B with Pablo Machín on the bench, the then sporting director, Oriol Alsina, incorporated him from El Prat, who had gone down to Third, still hesitant to know in which category the team would perform. That Girona was saved and, therefore, Granell was able to make his debut in elite football. Six years later he is the captain and has played 224 games, between First, Second and Cup.
Until last week at the top of the podium was a legend like Migue González. The defender, the author of the goal of the historic promotion to the silver division against Ceuta in 2008, added 222. A figure that increases to 249 if you also count the duels in Second B, a semi-professional category that Granell he knows, however, that he has never tried with the Girona team.
“The love for the club is a differentiating factor, the love of being from Girona and playing for Girona is a treasure that is within the reach of few players. We are fans who are lucky enough to decide matches and this is a differentiating factor that has helped me overcome difficult moments “, the midfielder pointed out in the interview. This is how he remembered two key matches, that Girona-Racing of the summer of 2014, the one of the debut, and the one of August 2017 against Atlético de Madrid, with the premiere in Primera. Of the duel against the Cantabrians, he explains that “I knew the importance of making my debut in Segona, with the whole family by my side, for all that it meant, after a summer worried about the uncertain future that would be with me”. With 88 minutes on the pitch, he was an active part of the victory (1-0) against Racing, in a year that would end the team with 82 points and losing the direct promotion in the tragic afternoon of Lugo . The other outstanding match, Girona-Atlètic, sets an example because “we had achieved an unimaginable milestone, such as the premiere in Primera, a milestone that we had pursued and persisted in rising from complicated defeats. It was a day marked by the club, the fans and the city. It’s impossible to erase that.
Becoming a captain and undisputed player in the middle of the field, Àlex Granell says that “for me it is a pride, an absolute happiness, something unimaginable a few years ago” to be able to lead the ranking of footballers with more white-and-red matches in the elite. He points out that it is taken as “a challenge achieved” because he has been able to “accumulate matches and go down in history both collectively, with incredible milestones, and individually, overcoming emblematic people of the club. I’m flattered to lead this list. ” Asked which footballers he mirrors, the Girona footballer has no doubts and points to other former captains, close friends of his, such as Eloi Amagat (Olot) and Pere Pons (Alabès). At this point he recalls the pride he represented in leading “a Girona tribe” for many years with the two of them.
Returning the team “where it deserves”, that is to say in Primera, is now what the captain focuses on. In this sense, in the absence of four games to finish the regular season, he considers that the team “has reached the final stretch in a very positive dynamic” and that it feels “strong and powerful” to regain the lost category. After a draw against Sporting de Gijón in El Molinón (0-0), Granell wanted to be “very optimistic” about Girona’s chances of finishing in the top flight this summer.
“There are four games left, and we are very aware of everything at stake. We face them with the utmost demand and the utmost responsibility, and knowing that every game is transcendental “, admitted the captain of Girona, who is in fifth place in the standings, five points from second place and with a margin of three on the main pursuers, Rayo, Tenerife and Alcorcón. Granell remarked that “the staff is mature” and, at the same time, said that, if it is necessary to do the play-off to climb, they have “the guarantees and experience to be able to live it successfully.” “I am very happy playing at the club of my life. And now I want to try to get Girona back where it deserves: in Primera », he added.