“In Madrid, Espanyol would be like Rayo Vallecano, although they like everyone”

BarcelonaCarlos Marañón was born in Madrid in April 1974, a few months before his father, Rafa Marañón, left Real Madrid to become an Espanyol legend. Being the son of the top scorer in the history of the white-and-blue club marked him for life. Now, from the Spanish capital, where he directs the magazine Cinemania, tries to entrust the parakeet feeling to his three children. The Marañón will be at the Santiago Bernabéu this Saturday (2 p.m., M. LaLiga), where Espanyol have not won since 1996.

How do you live Espanyol from Madrid?

— It’s complicated to be a parakeet in Madrid. You suffer more and live with a certain loneliness, but it also helps me to be more patient and not get so angry when we lose. Living here I have realized that what we fans say that Espanyol is in Barcelona like Atlético in Madrid has nothing to do with reality. Now that Atlético has been going strong for a few years, in capital Madrid the following is very close to 50% with that of Real Madrid. We would be more like Rayo Vallecano, with the difference that they do well all over the world and we go against everything.

How does it mark a child to be the son of an elite footballer?

— It has marked me a lot. Even today I am a proud son of Rafa Marañón wherever I go. Half of the stories I tell have been lived by my father. He has passed on my passion for football, but also my main rational passion, cinema. My parents are part of a generation that went to the cinema once a week. When they had rallies with the team in the cities they were traveling to, they would go see a movie the day before they played. I never stood in line at the cinema with him, because when he was recognized there was always someone who paid for the entrance.

Is it impressive to be a child and to have a Primera dressing room so close?

– Yes. Back then there wasn’t that much marketing among the players. Relationships were more human, now they seem more work-related. Amancio Amaro, my father’s idol, went to my baptism in Madrid. We recently went to their burning chapel. I remember very well Canito and my second father, Fernando Molinos, but the ones who impressed me the most were N’Kono and Lauridsen. I remember Jesus, the masseuse, giving us glucose tablets. And that Theo Custers gave me a bar of Belgian chocolate from the Côte d’Or that was sent from Belgium because it didn’t exist in Spain yet.

You lived near the Sarrià stadium.

– Yes. My parents still live near where the field was. It says a lot about us as a club and as fans that Sarrià is still the lost paradise. It’s beautiful, but enough years have passed to have turned the page. It is true that it was a different stadium, irregular, that had charm and, above all, that it was the home of parakeets in the middle of Barcelona. But we have an idealized memory of it, especially in terms of attendance, which was similar to today’s in most games. I think we parakeets are being unfair to Montjuïc, where we have lived the best condensed period in just over a decade: two Cups, a UEFA final, no relegation… The current stadium is fantastic, but we continue with a nostalgia that others clubs that have changed fields do not have.

Your father left Espanyol when you were 9 years old. What do you remember of him in blue-and-white?

— I remember many specific matches, like the day he scored his 100th goal in the League against Betis or a 1-0 against Real Madrid in Sarrià. Or the relationship with Dani Solsona, with whom there was a bit of rivalry because he was Cornellà’s boy and they both wanted to be bosses from the dressing room and kicking fouls, but there was always mutual admiration because they were so good. I also remember difficult matches at Camp Nou where I heard insults and whistles that marked me. I felt they hated us there. My father is still Espanyol’s top scorer in derbies, with nine goals, some to seal wins and draws. It’s a rivalry I like. At the time, Barça got angry, Espanyol, sometimes, and now many times we can’t compete and it’s hard. Barça no longer sees us as a sporting rival.

It’s been 40 years since your father left Espanyol and he’s still their all-time leading scorer. What does this data say?

— Yes, Tamudo beat him in the League on the day of Sweetness, but in the overall competitions the father surpasses him by two goals, 142 to 140. It is very nice that my father is the top scorer in Espanyol’s history. My father’s departure from Espanyol was a bit traumatic. The last season he played he was the top scorer. Despite being 35 years old he wanted one more year to say goodbye because he really felt good, but when Antoni Baró came to the presidency he cleaned things up. He was a bit touched and dropped two categories to go to Sabadell. Another beautiful story lived there.

What script would Espanyol’s film have?

— It’s a family saga where everything seems to go wrong but ends up resisting. And this story of resistance is a miracle. Just the fact of existing together with Barça, which has explained its history very well, is already a lot. The Barcelona narrative is difficult to improve. We will die looking for a story that we don’t need: more than a story, Espanyol needs a sporting reality and good management. There are teams like Villarreal, Osasuna or Real Sociedad that are below socially but have done very well sportingly. We don’t yet. We are a minority that resists, it is a beautiful story, but it is not useful for growth. You only grow if you often qualify for Europe, if you win a Cup or if you can keep players you can identify with for ten years.


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