DIEGO TRISTÁN HERRERA

Date of Birth: 5 January, 1976
Nationality: Spain (international)
Period at Depor: 2000 - 2006
Transfer: ca. €17,8 million (2.800 mln ptas) (2000)
Clubs: Deportivo (2000-2006), Real Mallorca (1999-2000), Real Mallorca B (1998-1999), Betis Sevilla B (1996-1998)
Sold: Released in 2006 (Depor paid €4 million as compensation)
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Position: Striker

DIEGO TRISTÁN was without a doubt one of the best European strikers during the first years of the century. But the performance showed during his last years in Deportivo earned him more enemies than admirers. He left the club as the best historic scorer of Depor although the fans will remind him for his behaviour outside of the pitch.

Curiously the Sevillan marksman was near to sign for Real Madrid, but destiny was reserving another things for him. Ex-president Lorenzo Sanz arranged his signing for Madrid in 2000, but his successor, Florentino Pérez, rejected the deal in the last second. The story says that Lendoiro took a plain to Madrid just when the news arrived to his hears. Depor's president succeeded in his mission and Tristán joined the Galician club in the summer of that year, being a replacement for the injured Roy Makaay.

And history gave the reason to Lendoiro... At least during the first years. The Andalucian player came from the youth team of Betis Sevilla to Mallorca where he impressed by scoring 18 goals. It earned him a transfer to Deportivo although he threatened to quit early in 2000/01 season when he found himself in and out of the side, but eventually he got a regular place and repaid coach Javier Irureta's faith in him by scoring freely. In total he produced 23 goals in his first campaign with Deportivo (19 Liga goals, 2 Champions League goals and 1 in both the Copa and Supercopa). The season after that he did even better, scoring 32 goals in total. His 21 Liga goals made him topscorer of the Spanish Liga while he added 6 in the Champions League and 5 in the Copa.

Therefore, the summer of 2002 became the highlight in his career as he was picked for the World Cup 2002 tournament. Tristán has all the physical and technical attributes necessary for success at the top level. He's good in the air and takes up good positions when he is not in possession. The fact that he scored culminated in his international debut on 2 June, 2001. Although he wore Spain's Number 10 shirt for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, he got injured early in the campaign and did not manage to find the net.

Since then his career started to fell down. His injury made Roy Makaay the main striker of Deportivo again and the Dutch striker even won the European Golden Boot for his performances. Tristán could not adapt to his secondary role and 'only' scored 19 goals that season (9 in the Liga, 4 in the Champions League and 6 in the Copa). Besides the tales about his 'night life' gave a bad reputation to him. But Irureta trusted in Tristán, specially when Makaay left the club in the summer of 2003.

But even after Makaay's departure, Tristán's form was never been like it was in 2002. In the season 2003/2004 he played just 10 full matches and was taken off in 20 games. His 18 entrances made him miss only 8 out of 56 matches, but he only produced 13 goals (8 in the Liga, 3 in the Champions League and 2 in the Copa del Rey). His strike against Monaco (in the notorious 8-3 defeat) was chosen by Eurosport as CL Goal of the Year. Nevertheless, Tristán seemed demoralised and sometimes Deportivo gave the sensation of been playing with 10 men. For this reasons his place as starter was taken by Walter Pandiani.

The same situation was saw during the following campaign, Tristán only played nine complete games, and the Sevillan was only able to score in nine occasions in la liga and two more times in the copa. That season was a disaster for Depor, the team was eliminated from the Champions League without scoring a single goal (a record in the competition) and it was clear that The Galicians were needing to replace him as soon as possible.

But the arrival of Joaquín Caparrós was saw as a new opportunity for him. The new coach was trusting in the recuperation of Diego and it was rumoured that Lendoiro refused a €7 million offer from Tottenham Hotspurs. This time Tristán enjoyed of more chances to play since he participated in 36 of the 38 liga matches, but he wasn't able to repeat the numbers of his first two years in Depor. The Sevillan striker only scored nine goals in la liga and one in the Intertoto cup. He was the best scorer of the squad on that season, but that situation didn't change the hate that some fans felt for him. People accused him of been a player without rhythm and without a soul. It was common to hear whistles at the Riazor during his presentations and the end seemed near.

Then Caparrós realised that the era of Tristán with Deportivo was over. Lendoiro tried to obtain a compensation for the €17,8 million invested in the beginning, but it was all in vane. Tristán rejected several offers from Real Betis, Celtic Glasgow, Fenerbahce and even a succulent €3 million in wages coming from Bolton (the double of what he was gaining in Deportivo). At the end no transfer was made and Lendoiro had to negotiate with him the cancellation of the contract. A sad scenario happened at that point when it was reported that Diego discussed with Depor's president during the last day of the 2006 summer market. Tristán was furious since he though that Lendoiro didn't do anything possible in order to secure his exit to another club.

Tristán received €4 million as compensation for the two years that were remaining in his contract, and the rupture was finally signed on September 4th, 2006. Some fans believes that it was a high price to pay in order to get rid of him. But the impact that Tristán had in the team is probably something that hasn't been valorised; after all, he is the maximum scorer in the history of the club with 111 goals (78 in liga, 15 in Champions League, 1 in Interoto, 16 in copa del rey and 1 in the Spanish Supercopa).
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