Lorenzo Serra Ferrer: “Aguirre has made this Mallorca a resistance manual” | Soccer | Sports


“33 years now, how time flies,” remembers Lorenzo Serra Ferrer (Sa Pobla, Mallorca; 71 years old) when the 1991 Cup final is mentioned to him. Mallorca played the first final in its history and lost it under his command against Atlético de Madrid (1-0, in extra time) at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Balearic team found in this house coach the cornerstone to begin its growth as an entity in the mid-80s. Serra would later coach Betis in two stages, he was sports director of Barcelona and coach of the first team; Later he would emigrate to Greek football and was still vice president of Mallorca itself. After leaving the bench in 2008 he began a career in hotel investments. He now runs a rural hotel, S’Olivaret, in Alaró, Mallorca, from where he reports to EL PAÍS.

Serra created a Mallorca team that fought for the title in 1987 and played in the aforementioned 1991 Cup final training from the reserve team. Manuel Ruiz de Lopera signed him in 1994 for Betis, where he built an almost invincible team. “Don Manuel was a great Betician. We had our differences, but he did very important things for Betis,” Serra acknowledges about the leader who died on March 23. He is a myth for the green and white fans and became sports director of the Betis club from 2017 to 2019. He cannot take a step through Seville without being greeted by Betis and also by the Sevillistas, a fan with whom he maintained enormous differences. “Yes I can say that I am Betic. It is a club that changed my life in every aspect,” he reaffirms. After selling his shares in Mallorca, where he was vice president, when he responded to a call from friends, he invested in buying shares in his great passion, Betis.

Serra’s football was very practical in the Andalusian club and he crashed on the Barcelona bench when he wanted to express another football philosophy, much closer to that of Johan Cruyff, a figure he admires. “Not succeeding on the Barcelona bench is the thorn in my sporting career. We worked with young people like Xavi, Puyol, Víctor Valdés, Reina or Iniesta, but things didn’t work out. I assume it,” he acknowledges. At least, as sports director of the Catalan team, he was the architect of Rivaldo’s signing.

From the tranquility of his hotel, he remembers the beginnings of his career as a coach in that Mallorca that began to write an important story.

“That 1991 final was very important, without a doubt, but in the 86-87 season, when the competition format changed, we played the qualifying rounds for the title. A regular League was played and at the end of it the top six played for the title,” Serra recalls. “Mallorca needed to do striking things so that the Mallorcan atmosphere was reinforced. That Lluís Sitjar, unforgettable, was a mythical field. Miguel Contestí gave me the opportunity,” he adds.

Serra’s mind is projected on a team with a lot of history, which had a goalkeeper, Zaki Badou, who was one of the standards. “Zaki was a formidable goalkeeper. We were a team with a lot of order, who defended very well, but that security was transmitted to us by our goalkeeper, the best in the history of Mallorca along with Toni Prats and Roa,” he clarifies. His testimony also includes names such as those from the Higuera Package or Antonio Orejuela, who curiously played in the final with Atlético after the Madrid team signed him from Mallorca. In that 1991 final, Zaki Badou and Atlético star Paolo Futre met again in a great event after Mexico 86.

“In that final things that are now unimaginable happened. We brought 2,000 fans to the Santiago Bernabéu in a match that was played in Madrid by imposition of the Federation. There were 70,000 athletes and my team was very worthy. Only in extra time did they defeat us with a shot that Zaki was able to stop and whose rebound was scored by Alfredo,” Serra recites as if he were living the game.

The coach has been in three Copa del Rey finals (one with Mallorca and two with Betis) and only won one, in 2005 with Betis and against Osasuna, a team then led by Javier Aguirre, current coach of Mallorca. “I have a great relationship with Javier, with whom he spoke quite frequently. He is a great communicator and has great virtue. He knows how to get to the heart of the footballer. His Mallorca is a manual of resistance,” he describes. “I will never again lose a final on the counterattack,” Aguirre himself declared after succumbing in 2005 at the Vicente Calderón against Serra Ferrer’s Betis.

Almost 20 years later, a new opportunity: “Athletic will not have it easy. A final is a final and Ernesto Valverde surely knows that he will have a very difficult time. Fear Aguirre. Athletic’s favoritism can work against them. Mallorca is pure pragmatism, perhaps they are not a very brilliant team, but their players do not hesitate to work and work to make life impossible for their rival. Aguirre’s teams don’t let you breathe,” emphasizes Serra, who finds parallels between that 1991 final and the current one: “That Atlético had two very talented players, Schuster and Futre. They were the favorites like Athletic in this final in Seville. But surely Mallorca will compete like we did.” On Saturday, from the peace of his rural Mallorca, Serra will wish for a Balearic triumph.

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