The suggestive Girona dresses in white and red, the colors of the soccer team, which has reached the coveted showcase of the city as leader of the League. There is a club store on the same Rambla, the Dutch ride their bicycles with the Blind shirt, the strange children in schools are those who wear blue, white or white – the alternative is the yellow and red of the senyera that It was the second outfit in 2022—and even some businessmen go to Montilivi with that historic jacket that they did not dare to wear when competing in Regional.

Even Michel, the coach, has saved on his mobile the screenshot of the classification that puts Girona ahead of Madrid and Barça. The images and data must be updated daily because “almost every match is historic,” as president Delfi Geli confesses, and tomorrow Madrid arrives. “You have to enjoy it,” agrees the president of the board of directors, Pere Guardiola.

That “small and delicate” city, as Jaume Minister defined it, or “gray and black” according to the book by Narcís-Jordi Aragó, Just M. Casero, Jaume Guillamet and Puis Pujades, is today “theatrical and kaleidoscopic” for the writer Josep Maria Fonalleras. The cultural offer is as splendid as the sports, tourism, monuments and gastronomy, not immune to inequality even though it transcends the sensation of joie de vivre – Fonalleras’s word -, capable of explaining itself after being compared with Bruges and later with Florence. The old neighborhood with its jueu street and the walls coexist with the young University in a city distinguished by its hanging houses painted with very bright colors that mix with those of Girona FC.

Girona never caused indifference, and even less so after Joaquím Nadal became mayor in 1979, when many of its visitors discovered the distance between the Costa Brava and a capital in which football is no longer in the dark. to govern the province in the light of day, just as Maurici Durán claimed when D’Alessandro’s Figueres and Waldo Ramos’ Palamós were in charge.

Austere times in Montilivi, opened in 1970, after the beloved Vista Alegre field, inaugurated in 1922, became too small. People crowded into the old stadium and few were counted in the spacious Montilivi until they won the First Division on the 4th. June 2017. Despite relegation two seasons later, life has no longer been the same at Girona, founded in 1930, back to the elite in 2022 and today the best team in the League.

Not only do fans from the towns surrounding Girona go to the stadium, but also from the regions of Vallés, Osona, Berguedà and Cerdanya. The number of subscribers was limited to 9,700, members exceed 12,000 and available seats are 14,000. The budget amounts to 53.5 million, the 15th in the tournament and the 13th in terms of salary, and the shareholders are made up of Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure (35%), Pere Guardiola’s Girona Football Group (16%) and City Football Group (47%), which has 13 clubs in the world, especially Manchester City.

The support of the three-time champion is as important for the stability of Girona as the autonomy with which the professionals led by Pere Guardiola—Pep’s brother—, Quique Cárcel, Geli and Michel act. Pere Guardiola is the business image of the project and the link with the sporting field, as close to Cárcel as he is to Ferran Soriano, City’s executive director. Having access to players who are in the English orbit helps put together a squad like the one that came back against Villareal. The idea is in any case unequivocal since the arrival of Cárcel in 2014.

The sports director, a former player trained in the Barcelona youth academy, is as methodical as he is superstitious, equally recognizable in good and bad times, decisive in explaining the evolution and qualitative leap made by the team from Pablo Machín’s footprint to the appointment in 2021 of Michel. The Vallecas coach has fit like a glove at Girona FC and in Girona. Michel, with a contract until 2026, does not forget that the sports director offered him a renewal when the team was in the relegation zone in the Second Division.

The coach found support in the club and comfort in a fan personified in a neighbor couple who every Friday invited him to an omelette with pa amb tomàquet. Michel no longer lives alone as he did then, but he has already met in a central apartment with his wife and one of his children – he plays in the Girona reserve team while the other is one of the figures in the Madrid quarry – and when he can eat in Can Manolo. The coach makes an effort to speak in Catalan, his conversations with the players have gone viral and he repeats that nowhere has he felt so loved.

Michel’s charisma combines very well with Geli’s institutional sense. The president has been a player for Girona and also for Barça, Atlético, Alavés and Albacete, and he goes to the Girona offices every day. They all speak the same language in tune with the head of communications David Torras and move on the same wavelength to win over people with their management in the same way that footballers do with a harmonious and vibrant game. Humility is not incompatible with greatness and it is just as important to add 40 points to ensure permanence – they have 19 – as it is to promote the Ciudad Deportiva. No number expresses the sense of team more than 11 players sharing the team’s 18 goals after a few years of dependence on top scorer Stuani.

Football and basketball

The team is looking for footballers who want to present themselves as young talents or veterans who aspire to make a name for themselves, players like Blind, former defender of Ajax, Bayern and Manchester United, or Savinho, forward of Troyes – from the City group -, unprecedented with PSV Eindhoven and whose dribbling refers to the figure of Vinicius. Savinho was recruited in the U-20 World Cup by the Cárcel team while Blind, Portu, Eric García and Pablo Torre —both from Barça— found the best way out at Girona’s door.

The Ukrainian Dovbyk, compatriot of Tsyhankov, fights the memory of Taty Castellanos, who left with Oriol Romeu, Santi Bueno and Riquelme. They are not famous, but uncomplicated and devoted to Girona’s pride and Josep Thió’s anthem performed by The Gruixut’s, substitute for the Sardinian Girona m’enamora by Ricard Viladesau. Girona is obsessed with its Girona FC. The Chamber of Commerce estimated in 2020 that the economic impact of the ascent of the men’s soccer and basketball teams—that of Marc Gasol—was 40 million. Women’s basketball and roller hockey are also in the top category and the impact of the GEiEG (Gironí Excursionist and Sports Group) is already known.

“sport shines” in Girona, exclaims a journalist with a prodigious memory like Jordi Grau. The white and red flags mix with the flags and stars in the city that was ruled by Carles Puigdemont and is now led by Lluc Salellas, former governor of the Cup, the same one who expressed his opposition to Barça for the signing of Oriol Romeu. Self-esteem and joy, fullness, prevail over pessimism in a city in which the writer Joaquím Ruyra placed a hypothetical end of the world as Fonalleras recalled. The never seen today in Girona is the leadership of Girona FC.

You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes in Facebook y Xclick here to receive our weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits



By Jane Austen

Jane Austen is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.