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Football & ‘Erasmus’: The advantages of playing professionally in the English Third Division

Nowadays, there are more that 100.000 Spaniards in the United Kingdom, a 77% more than in 2009. No country has increased more its Spanish population than England. There are many profiles of Spanish emigrants. Many of them are high-profile professionals working for some of the largest companies in the world. A great part of them moved to London to work as waiters, or similar jobs, in exchange for a salary that barely allows them to rent a room in the suburbs. David Silva moved to Manchester to make 300.000 euros per week. And Ander del Alamo left the Spanish Segunda B (Third category) to sign for Oxford City, make a living out of football, improve his English and enjoy an amazing experience. “It was unbelievable. I enjoyed playing professionally in England”, explains to Digital Football Community.

Del Alamo (Vitoria, 1991) is a product of the Deportivo Alavés academy. He even played a couple of preseason games with the first team, but there’re wasn’t room for him in a club which was trying to promote to the Second Division back in 2012. So he left his lifelong club and drove a few miles away to Llodio, where he spent two seasons before moving to Oxford in the summer of 2014. “They had a Spanish manager at the time and he had the idea of importing Spanish talent. My agent received an offer and I was invited to a summer tryout alongside ten Spanish players more. They finally signed three of us”. The beginning wasn’t easy at all for the Spaniards. The coach who hired them left before the season kicked off. “And our teammates weren’t happy with our presence there. But they soon realized that we were friendly guys that only wanted to enjoy football and help the team”.

Good salaries and benefits for the players

When it comes down to football, the Spanish Segunda B and the British Conference North are much alike. But in terms of salaries and extra benefits for their workers, they have nothing to do. In Llodio, Del Alamo and his teammates weren’t’ paid for the previous seven months before signing for Oxford City. What he found in England sounds really good. “We had salaries only top Segunda B clubs can match. Besides, the club rented a house for us and paid for English lessons during the first season”.

Introducing the passing game in England

The people who run the Oxford City had a clear strategy to emerge from the pack: translating the Spanish model to England. Power and size are still a massive factor in British Football. “I guess they had two choices before signing us: being the most powerful and athletic team in the Division or looking for something else to make the playoff”. Despite the Spanish manager exit, the board members did not change their mind. “We run the team on the pitch. They trusted our skill”, explains Del Alamo, a pure midfielder.

Del Alamo and his pals found nice salaries in England, but the club structure surprised them. It turned out to be they were more amateur than in Spain in spite of making money that would allow them to make a living out of football. “They only practice twice a week. We were used to four training sessions in Spain”.

Back Home

Del Alamo is back in his hometown after tasting the feeling of being a professional footballer in England. He has a degree in Economics and works now in a bank in Vitoria while he plays for Aurrera in a local league. “It wasn’t my idea to play professionally over a long period of time. I just wanted to enjoy the experience, improve my English and prove myself in another competitive environment”.

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