CLAUDIO BARRAGÁN ESCOBAR

Date of Birth: 10 April, 1964
Nationality: Spain (international)
Period at Deportivo: 1991 - 1995
Transfer: ? (1991, from Mallorca)
Clubs: Elche (1996), Salamanca (1995-1996), Deportivo (1991-1995), Mallorca (1989-1991), Elche (1984-1989), Las Palmas (1983-1984, on loan), Ceuta (1982-1983, on loan), Levante (1980-1982), Manises
Sold: ? (1995, to Salamanca)
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Position: Attacker (central)

Valencia-born CLAUDIO became an idol during his four years at Riazor where he was the attacking partner of Bebeto during most of his time spent in La Coruńa. He was there when the team survived its first year after the promotion in 1991, finished at the top three in the seasons after it and won its first trophy ever in 1995 by conquering the Copa del Rey against Valencia. Many will remember him for the way he celebrated his goals: like if he was a torero.

His career started in 1980 when barely aged sixteen he made his debut for Levante. He experienced loan deals at Ceuta and Las Palmas before he was signed by Elche in 1984. Aged twenty he came on as a substitute during 1-0 loss at Espanyol in November of that year and would play a total of eighteen matches in his first year in the Primera División. From February on he was considered a starter and he scored two goals that campaign including one at the Bernabéu. But that match was lost 6-1 and Elche didn’t survive in the highest Spanish division.

Claudio went down with them but was important for the team in the years before it returned to the Primera División in 1988. He was considered an undisputed starter and played a total of thirty-two matches during in his comeback at the highest level. He produced seven Liga goals, including another at the Bernabéu and two within the space of three minutes at home against Bilbao (2-0). But again Elche proved incapable of surviving that year and for the second time in four years they went down.

Despite several injuries Claudio, twenty-five of age, had made enough impression to attract the interest of Real Mallorca. He moved to the island and played a total of fifty-six matches for them during two seasons and scored eleven goals. These included two against Barcelona and his third at the Bernabéu against one of his favorite opponents: Real Madrid. This time it earned his club a point despite Fernando Hierro’s goal (1-1).

In the summer of 1991 president Lendoiro convinced Claudio of coming to La Coruńa. Lendoiro had big plans, but not much money, to create a team capable of surviving in the Primera División and attracted players like Canales, Liańo, López-Rekarte, Ribera and Claudio for cheap. His Liga debut for Deportivo he made on 31 August, 1991 against Valencia and one week later scored his first goal against Tenerife. His ten goals that season, including a late winner in Riazor against Mallorca (1-0), helped Deportivo surviving after play-off matches against Betis Sevilla.

From 1992 until 1994 experienced Claudio was a vital part of the team surprising Spain with some quality football. His partnership with Bebeto was magnificent although both players had some similar characteristics. But while Bebeto sometimes ‘disappeared’ during matches, Claudio always gave a fight and never considered a ball lost. Compared to twenty-first century Deportivo he resembled Walter Pandiani a lot. His temperament caused two sending-offs during the season 1992/1993, including one at Real Madrid, and many yellow cards during his career.

But above all he scored goals for the team and was important for the productivity of Bebeto. He scored a total of thirteen goals during the season 1992/1993 among which three in the first four matches. He scored his traditional goal at the Bernabéu in February 1993 in the same match he was sent off. But Deportivo lost 2-1, despite the goal gave them a lead, and with it the leading position in the Primera División.

By then he already had become an international player for Spain after his debut he made in October, 1992 during a 0-0 World Cup Qualifier draw at Northern-Ireland. He reached a total of six matches playing for them without scoring a goal. But he remained unbeaten after four wins and two draws.

Deportivo finished third that season and for the first time in their history qualified for European football. Talented Javier Manjarín was signed from Sporting de Gijón but he couldn’t take over Claudio’s starting place. Claudio became thirty that season but played some of his best matches of his career. On 18 September, 1993 he fired two goals past Real Madrid’s Buyo when Deportivo destroyed its opponent in Riazor (4-0). An injury prevented him from playing that fatal final match of the season against Valencia (0-0) when Djukic missed his famous penalty. But the team finished second and had established itself as an important team in Spain.

His first, and only prize, at Deportivo he would win in his final season at the club: 1994/1995. In the summer of 1994 quality players like Julio Salinas and Emil Kostadinov joined the squad while Manjarín was given more time to play. For Claudio it became his least successful season at Deportivo because he only played fifteen Liga matches of which just six as a starter. He produced three goals that season but was vital in October, 1994 against Zaragoza: Deportivo were 1-3 down in Riazor when Claudio came on and scored two goals earning them a point (3-3).

Aged thirty-one he was allowed to leave the club after the arrival of Dmitri Radchenko in 1995 and went to newly-promoted Salamanca. He immediately became an important figure in their team fighting against relegation and scored eleven goals at the highest level; his second-best total after the thirteen goals of three years before. He was received by singing supporters in September when his team played in Riazor and his most productive day of his career he experienced on 8 October, 1995 when he shot three goals past Rayo Vallecano in Madrid (1-4). It didn’t help Salamanca surviving though as the team went back to the Segunda División in 1996.

After having played four matches at a lower level for Salamanca Claudio wanted to return home and signed a contract at Elche from the Segunda B. In November 2001 he announced it was time to quit football and he did so at the age of thirty-seven. Currently he is their second coach and present when his team eliminated Deportivo from the Copa del Rey in 2004.
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