Date of Birth: 11 June, 1965
Nationality: Spain
Period at Deportivo: 1991 - 1996/1997 (winter)
Transfer: (1991, Burgos)
Clubs: Rayo Vallecano (1996), Deportivo (1991-1996), Burgos (1989-1991), Sestao (1987-1989)
Sold: (1996, Rayo Vallecano)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Position: Defender (central)

He probably will be one of the least known players who formed the Superdepor team of the early and mid nineties: RIBERA. The strong defender, almost unbeatable in the air, wasn’t picked for the Spanish team (like Voro), didn’t miss an important penalty or extend his career at another big club (like Djukic), nor played Champions League football and won the Liga(like Donato). But during at least three seasons he was a fundamental part of the team conquering Spain.

The Basque-born player made his debut for Real Sociedad in the Primera División at the age of 19. It concerned a match between the Basques and Málaga, which finished 0-1. Their juvenile Ribera played ninety minutes that day in September, 1984, but he didn’t figure in the team during the remainder of the season. In fact, his future didn’t seem to be at Real Sociedad and he left them to join Sestao in 1987.

Sestao, from a city of about 40,000 inhabitants those days, was led by Javier Irureta and Ribera played 59 matches in the Segunda División for them in two seasons. Then, at the age of 24, he joined Burgos and one season later leaped back into the highest Spanish level with them. During the season 1990/1991 he reached an eleventh place with Burgos and played thirty-four Liga matches. But until then nobody would have expected what Ribera would achieve after it.

The career of Ribera had been quiet until that year and nobody will have noticed much of him: a good central defender but with limited technical qualities. But he knew perfectly well his limitations, and that may have been one of the reasons why Deportivo approached him after their promotion in 1991. The club lacked money, and needed cheap players to lift up their careers with ambitious performances. Ribera perfectly suited that profile, although Burgos protested against his departure.

Deportivo suffered during their first campaign at the highest level, and Ribera did too as he only reached playing eleven Liga matches for them during the season 1991/1992. He started the first three matches of that campaign, although his team only took one point out of a possible six from these. After his initial debut on 31 August, 1991 against Valencia (2-1 loss) he only would play again in February, 1992. As said, the Galicians had a hard time surviving that season and only managed to do so after extra promotion/relegation matches. Ribera also played a season he would love to forget, as during his eleven performances his team only won one match.

But in 1992 all changed for Ribera, as all changed for Deportivo that year. Bebeto and Mauro Silva arrived and the team had a magnificent start during the season 1992/1993. In the campaign before goalkeeper Liaño and defenders Djukic, Albístegui and López-Rekarte already had been part of the defence, and now Ribera became their colleague (together with Nando) in the starting eleven. The story of Deportivo that season is well known, as the Galicians were crowned winter champions and their secure defence only leaked thirty-three goals that campaign. For the first time in their history they qualified for UEFA Cup football. And so did Ribera.

More of the same during the season 1993/1994, although this time Deportivo so famously missed winning their first ever Liga title on the final day of the season. But once again the club qualified for UEFA Cup final, their defence was considered the best of Spain (this time, with Voro instead of Albístegui, leaking just eighteen goals) and Ribera played during thirty-three matches that season. He was sent-off during the first one that campaign (a 0-0 home draw against Celta de Vigo), but in February, 1994 scored a winner at the pitch of… Real Sociedad (0-1). It’s curious that Ribera scored his first goal of Deportivo during the previous campaign against another familiar side… on 21 March, 1993 during the 5-0 slaughtering of Burgos. Back then he scored Deportivo’s first goal in Riazor after just three minutes.

Ribera didn’t score in his third season at the club (1994/1995), but finally won a prize: the Copa del Rey. The famous defensive line of Liaño, Nando, Voro, Djukic, Ribera and López-Rekarte held on to the goal scored by Alfredo and conquered the first ever prize of Deportivo. His team finished second in the Liga, and Ribera played thirty-three Liga matches that Liga campaign. The same number as in the previous season, but this time he didn’t find the net.

In the summer of 1995 the player turned thirty, and had played none less than 101 Liga matches for Deportivo in the three most recent seasons. He achieved three times qualification for European football and won the Spanish Supercopa against Real Madrid those weeks; overall not bad for a player rejected by Real Sociedad. But Ribera was close to his time at Deportivo, because problems in his right knee started to influence his performances. He reached only fifteen matches during the season 1995/1996, coach Toshack lost confidence in him, and saw Paco substituting him when necessary.

On 7 April, 1996 he played ninety minutes during the 2-2 draw at Valladolid. It proved to be the final minutes of Ribera in the Primera División, as it was decided that he should undergo surgery while his career seemed endangered. That summer Deportivo restructured their squad and Nourredine Naybet arrived. As Paco had been doing well until then, 31-years old Ribera was given permission to leave.

During the winter months of the 1996/1997 campaign Ribera signed at Rayo Vallecano, and finished his active career at this club. In July, 2004 he joined the coaching staff of Real Sociedad after he had served before as second coach at Eibar.
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