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More than a coach, an ambassador: Ziganda, leader beyond the bench

It is not so strange to find his sharp figure on the path of Fuso, where he advances to happy rhythms, long strides. At 4’20” or 4’30” per kilometer. “I’m going fast so that people don’t tell me: Ziganda, put this one!” She usually comments in a relaxed way. José Ángel Ziganda is the fashionable man in Oviedo. Because he has the sixth team, of course, the main reason for people to applaud him. But also for the forms, for his education and knowing how to be. He has never been caught in a waiver. His last praised performance, within the club and by Oviedismo, was the press conference he offered at El Molinón, even with his heart rate through the roof, in which he provided the point of sanity and balance to a shameful epilogue, with aggression against one of his footballers included. But the Cuco executed the most chivalrous reading of the day. More than a coach, Ziganda stands as a spokesperson for Real Oviedo. In the best ambassador of him.

“You will never hear him speak ill of anything or anyone in the club. Not in private, not even with people you trust.” A person from the circle closest to him recites one of the keys for which the Cuckoo is so respected in the blue entity. His work is exposed to results, that’s why he has defenders and critics of his work as a technician. His values, however, have never been questioned.

He demonstrated it in El Molinón as he had already done in other chapters. Always in his place. There is another that had an impact and that the club always underline to highlight his left hand. His way of getting out of his way when Saúl Berjón, with 1-3 for Burgos, told him as he passed by his side: “Do you want my shirt?” After the ugly gesture, and ruminating on a defeat that left him touched, Cuco responded in the press room with a “Berjón has made a great match; he is a Primera player”.

He accepts the role of spokesman with resignation. Soccer man, in love with the game, they say that he is little or not interested in anything that has nothing to do with sports. With the spirit of the ball. But the special operation of Oviedo, with different areas of power, remote control from Mexico and long periods of institutional absence from the media, has forced it to get even more involved.

He accepts it because he is happy with his work. And he is delighted, moreover, in Oviedo. The city accompanies an experience that he has already repeated on several occasions to be enjoying. Even when he loses. Also his family, who accompanies him on the adventure. El Cuco lives in the center, near Cortefiel, with his wife Rebeca and the youngest of his daughters, June, who is in her second year of high school at San Ignacio school. It was his friend Paco Fernández, a former Oviedo player and National League coach, who recommended the school to him. Paco had trained the regional team of the school. And in the family they are delighted with the school. The eldest daughter, Ariane, studies abroad.


His passion for the profession does not leave him much free time. And the one he has, he heads to football. Passionate about the Premier, Marcelo Bielsa’s dismissal a few weeks ago has left him without one of his weekend appointments: they say he didn’t miss a Leeds United game. Apart from football, he likes to follow the most important cycling events. And there is another sport that he calls it: Basque pelota. On some other trip with the team they have seen him hooked on ball games from his mobile.

Work absorbs him, hence the hours dedicated to El Requexón. But he also finds the escape valve from him. And he is in sports, of course. Ziganda retains the same elongated figure from his time as a footballer. He even weighs less than professional. In this he has a lot to do with his intense sports sessions. He accompanies him on these adventures Alberto Martínez, physical trainer of the Oviedo first team, who acts in these training sessions from a double perspective: personal trainer and confessor.

They usually go out a couple of days a week to run along the Fuso path. The workouts range from 10 to 12 kilometers, always in fast times. Another couple of days a week, the couple takes the road bike. The rest day, always, in addition to the occasional afternoon session now that the light allows more hours of pedaling. The stages, between 70 and 90 kilometres, are demanding. Its condition allows it to face the steepest ports of the Asturian panorama. Last year he conquered the Gamoniteiru. For this year, they say that another ambitious goal has been set: El Angliru.

Another of the coach’s passions, golf, does not find much continuity in Oviedo. It takes too much time for a busy man like him. Despite his inactivity, he keeps his handicap low.

“It has no folds, it is what you see. It doesn’t sell smoke. Sometimes it is even overly sincere, ”they comment from their surroundings. There are not many who have accessed him in the almost three years he has been in Oviedo. Among those close to him, two former Oviedo players. In addition to Paco, with whom he served in the military when they were 18 years old, he is also friends with Luis Manuel.

This is Ziganda, the man who directs Oviedo’s ship with the firm intention of touching down on dry land in the play-offs. And that he unfolds his work as a kind of ambassador for Oviedo, a club subjected to extreme emotions, with a noisy social mass that lives its blue passion at the extremes. In that scenario, the Cuckoo brings balance. It is the balance. He faces the final stretch of his job without knowing what will happen to his future after June. But with the same doses of coherence as always.

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