Balding bank manager Pablo
Infante has outscored Lionel Messi to fire tiny Mirandes into a
King's Cup semi-final against Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, without skipping a day's work at his suit-and-tie office
job in northern Spain.
The 31-year-old is the cup top scorer with seven goals,
including six from their giantkilling victories over Villarreal,
Racing Santander and Espanyol, and his third-tier club are on
the brink of a possible final meeting with either Barcelona or
Infante scored and set up their dramatic injury-time winner
to knock out Espanyol in the quarter-finals last week, and was
carried off the pitch on the shoulders of ecstatic fans.
A few hours later, he was opening the doors to his bank at 8am with television cameras waiting to greet him.
Infante has become the unlikely hero of Mirandes's
fairy-tale cup run, which has been all the more impressive as
they have beaten top-flight sides over two legs three times.
The fact Infante has to dash back from the away legs in his
car overnight to be back in time for his day job has caught the
imagination of the country.
"I'm here seven hours a day, 8am until 3pm. It's in the
afternoon when I immerse myself in my other job," Infante told
regional newspaper Deia.
"This media attention is down to the work of everyone at the
club. I've perhaps received the most attention, but I take it
the same as everything else, calmly.
"I understand this is a business, that when things go well
you are on a real high, but when they go badly you are
criticised and brought back down to earth."
Tuesday's first leg is in the small industrial town of
Miranda de Ebro, population 40,000, where the club operating on
a budget of 1.2 million euros is in the last
four for the first time to take on the 23-times winners Bilbao,
who have an annual budget of around 60 million.
ONE PERCENT CHANCE
Bilbao are sixth in La Liga, boast two Spanish World Cup
winners in Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez, and are coached
by Argentine Marcelo Bielsa.
"We know they are favourites," Infante added. "I would say
it is a 99 percent chance for them to win and one percent for
us, but we have hope and enthusiasm and won't give it up
The second semi sees Barcelona visit Valencia on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola's side suffering an injury crisis
and, judging by their last two outings, a dip in form by their
own high standards.
On Saturday, they were held to a 0-0 draw at Villarreal to
slip seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who they knocked
out in the quarter-finals last week.
The Spanish and European champions, last year's losing
finalists, head to the Mestalla with David Villa and Andres
Iniesta ruled out, and Pedro and Alexis Sanchez doubts.
Valencia are nine points behind Barca in La Liga in third
place and also drew on the weekend, conceding a late equaliser
for a 2-2 draw at Racing Santander.
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Andy Carroll pulls out of England's friendly internationals against Ireland and Brazil
West Ham United have signed Romania captain Razvan Rat on a free transfer
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010