They maybe on the opposite sides of the world, but LaLiga’s Club Deportivo Leganés, located at the heart of Spain, travelled halfway around the globe with a purpose to the Southeast Asian namesake of the city they represent – Leganes, Iloilo, Philippines.
Fondly known in the footballing world as Los Pepineros (The Cucumbers), C.D. Leganés sent their defender Rodrigo “Rodri” Tarín as their emissary to the Far East with a specific set of tasks: See the municipality of Leganes in Iloilo, interact with the people, spread awareness about the club, and (most importantly) gain new fans and establish a connection through the name that the two places share: Leganes.
Upon arrival after an epic 16-hour flight, Rodri wasted no time as he quickly got amongst it with the locals within the commercial complex. Soon enough, a potential target came into view, a man wearing a Real Madrid jersey as Rodri quickly turned to an evangelist convincing the chap to support the Pepineros of Leganés as every true child of Leganes should!
A little later, more people heard of the gospel being preached by Rodri who seemed to be having a great time doing the honorable deeds for his club as another bloke, this time, in a Barcelona kit seemed to have been won by Rodri, accepting the Leganés scarf as a show of his newfound support.
Eventually, Rodri was able to reach the hotspot of the city – the epicenter of this outreach – where the best prospects for new Lega fans are situated, a local football pitch where kids of Gawad Kalinga communities play football and are open to supporting a LaLiga club that they could call their own.
True enough, the moment Rodri spent playing football with the local youth proved to be the most productive as not only did the kids spent a friendly match and learned bits of advise from a LaLiga player, but they were also introduced and made aware of the Pepineros, an exciting club from across the globe that plays in Spain’s top-flight, which share the same name as their hometown.
After all’s been said and done, Rodri’s mission seemed to be a successful and fruitful one as he was able to gather new Pepineros in a new football frontier, even including the City Mayor Jun Jun Jaen, and even reaching nearby Iloilo City where domestic cup (Copa Paulino Alcantara) champions Kaya FC Iloilo are based to come up with a pact of alliance as representatives of the Filipino club joined the Leganes defender in declaring the battlecry, Aúpa Lega!
At the end of the day, with the Pepinero defender clutching a bag of cucumbers bought from the local market as mementos, it seems to be: Mission accomplished, Rodri!
Club Deportivo Leganés
Founded in 1928, C.D. Leganés caught the fancy of every football fan ever since setting foot in Spain’s first division, LaLiga Santander, back in 2016.
After twice staving off relegation, the club approached the new season with the enthusiasm of one of LaLiga’s true up-and-coming sides, by finishing a respectable 13th in the 2018-19 season, having previously spent many years in the lower reaches of Spanish football. Moreover, the club reached the Copa del Rey semi-finals in 2018.
Known as Los Pepineros, C.D. Leganés as a club represents its city, Leganés, which is located right at the center of Spain near Madrid. They play their home matches in Estadio Municipal de Butarque which host up to 12,450 spectators.
An interesting fact about the club, C.D. Leganés was Samuel Eto’o’s first club in Spain.
Rodrigo “Rodri” Tarín
Born in Chiva, Valencia, 22-year-old Rodrigo Tarín began his career in Barcelona’s lower divisions playing for FC Barcelona B the last three years, where he won the 2013-14 UEFA Youth League and scoring a ninth minute goal in the final.
Tarín has been the captain of Barça B in the last part of the 2017-18 season in the Spanish Second Division. He also was a regular part of Spain’s youth teams. Tarín, stands out for being a versatile defender who can play the role of fullback and centerback positions. His imposing stature and aerial strength also makes him a threat through his heading ability making him an attacking option in set-pieces.
Tarín made a total of 18 appearances for C.D. Leganés in LaLiga, where 15 of those matches as a starter for a total of 1,429 playing minutes.
Photo credits: C.D. Leganés