🎙 Osasuna's president talks African footballers, the club's development structures & their 2021 ambitions

🎙 Osasuna's president talks African footballers, the club's development structures & their 2021 ambitions

CA Osasuna, a club in Spain’s northern Navarre region, recently celebrated its centenary year in the unforgettable backdrop of 2020. 

A global pandemic has reminded us all that fans are an essential cog in the footballing wheel and that fact is not lost on Osasuna, a club run by the fans for the fans. 

🗳 Fans making big decisions 

The Pamplona-based side is a unique outfit in many ways, but what stands out most is the fact that they remain a member-run club, meaning that all major decisions are voted on by the club’s members. Only three other clubs in Spain’s top division share that status – Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid. 

Osasuna's club president, Luis Sabalza, elaborates: “We are very proud of being a member-run club, but it is very difficult as football has become a business. We try to keep the essence of traditional football, fans being as important hence we have learned to survive in the current situation. At Osasuna, we have 20,000 members these are owners of the club who decided – through our general assembly – on economic decisions, administration and other big decisions.”

❄️ A challenging winter in 2020

Osasuna was promoted back to the promised land of the Spanish top-flight for the 2019-20 season and it was a campaign in which they exceeded all expectations, finishing 10th and beating Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao to a position in the top half in the process.

This achievement is a great source of pride for all connected to the club, but 2020-21 has been a little less straightforward. They've enjoyed rubbing shoulders with Spain's glamour clubs again but they remain 17th in the division, just a point clear of safety, with 18 matches to play. 

🏭 Osasuna's talent factory

The team's medium to long-term hopes may well hinge on their development academy which is ranked as one of the best youth setups of its kind in Spain.

Commonly known as ‘Tajonar’, the facility has become a conveyor belt for Spanish talent with Chelsea skipper César Azpilicueta, Champions League winner Javi Martínez, veteran duo Raúl García & Nacho Monreal, and Sociedad & Spain star Mikel Merino all earning their stripes at El Sadar. 

At present, Osasuna boasts seven Tajonar graduates in its first-team squad, namely Jon Moncayola, Kike Barja, Juan Pérez, David García, Unai García, Roberto Torres and Oier Sanjurjo. No other top-flight club is currently blooding more youth graduates, so their future looks like a bright and sustainable one.

🌍 Osasuna's African links

Osasuna has also been home to a host of African footballers. Notably, Cameroonian striker Pierre Webó made over 100 appearances for the club in the early 2000s. 

“Recruitment of players lies in the hands of the football managers. The club has no problems with acquiring African players, especially if he has great football and personal qualities like those of Pierre Webó…therefore, wherever a player comes from he will be welcomed,” said Sabalza, who also fondly recalled memories of sitting in the stands of El Sadar with Webó on more than one occasion. 

Osasuna is no stranger to fighting for its principles and the players will no doubt be ready to summon all of their battling qualities as they look to preserve their top-flight status in 2021. Next up is a trip to Real Betis on Monday night.

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