Red cards and redemption: Villarreal bid farewell to José Manuel Llaneza | Sid Lowe

After death of vice-president considered architect of the club, even two controversial sendings off couldn’t spoil last goodbyeIn the beginning, there was a typewriter and José Manuel Llaneza. And that, Villarreal president and owner Fernando Roig is fond of saying, was that. It is not entirely true – Roig’s son recalls a guy called Gumbau and a man named Parra – but it’s not a long way off and it is an effective way of expressing just how far the club has come and how they did it. Who did it too. Another came from Manu Trigueros, the footballer who has made more appearances for the club than anyone. At Camp Nou on Thursday night, he looked up and said: “If we play in grounds like this, it’s thanks to Llaneza.”It wasn’t easy for Trigueros to talk, still less play, but he was right. The team were eating lunch when they were told that Llaneza, who had been fighting leukaemia and who had lost his wife a few weeks earlier, had died at 74. “This has hit us hard,” Trigueros said. “He was very close to us, always at our side. The club grew hugely with him.” A third of his life had been dedicated to Villarreal, making them what they are: from almost nowhere to one of Spain’s biggest clubs. Travelling to Camp Nou is just what they do now; it has become normal when it’s not.

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