Eugenio is 100 years old and is in the front row at the summer cinema that Mediaset has put on in the Plaza de Maribáñez, in front of the church. He carries a cane and a gray sweater over a white shirt; he has been, as they say, dressed to the nines. The occasion deserves it. This district of Los Palacios, in the province of Seville, with just 1,023 inhabitants, lived with enthusiasm on April 19 the preview of Maribáñez, the worst team in the world, a docuseries that arrives this Wednesday, May 10, at Cuatro, facing the third edition of Mask Singer on Antena 3 and the new season of El pueblo on Telecinco.
Like Eugenio, who appears riding a bicycle in one of the program's close-ups, all the residents of the town lived with emotion the television portrait of its streets and people. But here the story that matters is one, that of his modest soccer team, Maribáñez, who intends to get out of sporting laziness in general and of the Andalusian Third Division in particular.
Cristóbal Soria, former referee and star commentator for El chiringuito, is facing a tremendous undertaking. He brings his overflowing energy and, yes, also some rants at a few decibels that are not used to in a town as quiet as this. "I am a guy of challenges and lost causes. I couldn't say no to an opportunity like this," he says.
They have only lived to get to a game with the aim of having two or three beers later. Now they are going to change the mentality
The members of the team, such as Chinchi, Will or Little Chicken, had never taken the team too seriously before and enjoyed the beers at El Remolachero, the town bar, more than the game itself. As El Orejas, the soul of the team, says, it was "a team to enjoy". And with that they were happy, but Soria has awakened another illusion: "They want to know the taste of victory, because they only know defeat. They have only lived to get to a game with the aim of having two or three beers later. Now they are going to change their mentality, we have to teach them how to behave in the elite."
The concept of the format, halfway between Ted Lasso and A Nightmare in the Kitchen, actually appeals to the aspirational nature of the objective and the endearing nature of its characters. So much so that Íñigo Pérez, producer of Señor Mono, has as a reference the film Campeones by Javier Fesser and other American films that follow the formula of "disaster team that someone arrives and changes it."
"We really like to take movies and turn them into reality. The challenge was to find the place and Cristóbal did it. When we came to see it it was perfect, but when we met them it was better. They are people with a lot of self-confidence and naturalness." It was Juanjo, El Orejas, who received the call from Soria and his teammates made fun of him. They said it would be a joke. "Either it is Cristóbal Soria or it is Carlos Latre because there is no other note that speaks like that," he replied.
And then Soria burst into a locker room that has the hot water heater tied with a chain so that no one can steal it and a soccer field, the only one in the province with an albero, where the Donkey Socks eats the weeds that come out. "Now we have a commitment, some training guidelines. Soccer is not about kicking a ball, you have to have an idea of defending, attacking, positioning... Thanks to Cristóbal we are training as people and players", he values El Largo, goalkeeper of the team turned into a television personality, "We are learning what raccord is, a general shot. Now you are watching TV and you notice things that you did not realize."
Like him, his stand-in, Will, assures that although television has its tricks, they stand before the camera naturally: "I am myself, there is no other", and he believes that if they become famous from this, among their colleagues there are more wood for contestants of Survivors than for The island of temptations "Yes, because here we are used to throw ourselves into the mud. The bad thing is to take people to the other island, we have less handsome."
"All the footballers have eaten cold at some time, although now they earn 3 million euros
For Soria, the Maribáñez story works both from the bottom up and vice versa, to remind us of the importance of looking back. "All of us who have come to elite football at some point have gone through this grassroots football, through that albero field, those changing rooms, those torn socks... It's like going back 25 or 30 years, to the beginning. To the that we have been in the elite, going down three or four steps, or entire floors, I recommend it as a medicine", he affirms. "All footballers have eaten cold at some point, even though now they earn 3 million euros. Remembering that is more than enough. There are many footballers who are up for grabs, but I don't want to give them names and surnames. Although there is someone I would bring and It is Jesús Navas, because it is his town, and he has won everything afterwards with the Spanish National Team or Manchester City".
Another illustrious resident of Los Palacios is Gavi from F.C. Barcelona, who started out with the nearby La Liara Balompié team before moving to Betis. The Maribáñez boys may not reach that high, but they can dream.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project