CD Mirandés and Pablo Infante earn hearts, and headlines

What was really said on that training ground at Valdebebas? Who is the mole inside Real Madrid? In a week that has been dominated by a soap opera storyline involving the club from the capital, it would have to take something special to put it into the shade. And CD Mirandés, are very special.

The club based out of Burgos, in the province of Castile and León, have captured the hearts and imaginations of football fans throughout Spain. A well run club, working hard to remain financially competent and operating on a meagre budget of just under €1m, they currently sit top of the pile in Segunda División B, Group 2. With a lead of 6 points and having only conceded 8 goals, it has catapulted them to clear  favourites for promotion.

It is however, their giant killing feats have been the source of much amazement, and it all started when they knocked out Villarreal. A fine performance at their own Estadio Anduva, with a feverish atmosphere backing them in the tiny stadium, shook well seasoned names such as Carlos Marchena and Borja Valero.  This was then followed by an even more incredible spectacle, as they travelled to El Madrigal having earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg. Many thought Los Submarino Amarillos quality would prevail, but they were swept aside by a confident, hard working and talented Mirandés side who deservedly won 0-2.

Celebrations ensued, but things were incredibly…only to get better.

Racing Santander awaited, and another incredible effort over the two legs saw Mirandés come out as victors 3-1. Suddenly everyone in Spain had a new second team. They too, had a new favourite player. Pablo Infante.

Infante’s story couldn’t be more emotional. A much travelled midfielder, he has spent much of his career going to and from clubs in the Segunda B and Tercera División levels. His performance sin the Copa Del Rey however, were to propel him to another level. Seeing his bald head weave and wander between Primera defences has enthused many, as he shows not only great desire and effort but he harnesses plenty of skill too.

That’s only half the story though. Infante leads another life; he’s a bank clerk by day. The wily midfielder commutes some 30 miles to get to his job in Quincoces de Yuso working at Caja Círculo bank. After the victory at El Sardinero he was up for work the next day at 7am – he travelled in his car too, that has 90,000+ miles on the clock. This sort of details, you just couldn’t make up.

With another shift finished, Infante, along with his team mates prepared to face Espanyol in the quarter final stages. Cornellà was the venue, and again, they proceeded to shock. With 15 minutes remaining on the clock, Mirandés were leading by two goals – disaster struck however, and Espanyol fired back with three goals in the last five minutes. It was heartbreaking, but typically they were not disconsolate in loss, this despite being harshly done by with a blatantly erroneous offside call.

That brought us to the return leg tonight, and as Rui Fonte’s strike deflected into the Mirandés net it seemed once again like luck would be with Espanyol. However, this is the Mirandés all have to come to adore. Infante popped up once again, grabbing his 7th goal in the competition, surpassing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. This wasn’t over, and Coach Carlos Pouso waved his players on – they duly responded by peppering the Espanyol goal with goalkeeper Kiko Casilla being called upon on several occasions. With the game in injury time it seemed Espanyol had prevailed – but with one final throw of the dice, Infante, who else, drilled in a cross which César Caneda glanced home with his head. It sparked scenes of joy on the sidelines, as the 6,000 capacity stadium erupted. Then, the final whistle blew. The pitch invasion ensued. Mirandés were in the Copa Del Rey semi-finals. Potentially 180 minutes away from a final.

Infante was held aloft by his team mates, all of whom still hadn’t caught their breath, surrounded by the supporters just like him, ordinary working people. “You have to stay happy in life, I feel happy in this job” Infante said in the lead up to the game, as the TV crews descended upon his bank.

It’s only right he would have the final word on the pitch. “This is incredible, this is incredible. We all ran, we all fought, and we all worked together”

Get some sleep Pablo, you have work in the morning.

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