The best footballers from the Canary Islands
The Canary Islands have a rich and varied sporting heritage, with Then 24 confirming that the Spanish Olympics team will feature no fewer than 17 of our sons and daughters over in Tokyo. They’re the latest to herald from the islands and travel the world searching for sporting glory, but they’re by no means the first.
One star of Euro 2020, and hopefully of our Olympics team, is Barcelona forward Pedri. The Catalan giants are one of the most successful clubs in football history, and Pedri, born in Tegueste in Tenerife, is one of their latest stars. An 18-year-old emerging at Barcelona is a rare thing indeed; they are one of the most successful Champions League clubs in history, winning it four times.
Recently, that legacy has been questioned, and when you consider how poorly Spain’s domestic clubs were represented in Euro 2020, it is even more remarkable the youngster broke through. A Bwin article on how domestic clubs performed shows Spanish-based players got four times fewer minutes than those in the Premier League. Pedri was one of our few domestic stars to get valuable game time, which is fantastic news for Spanish football when perhaps, it needs good news.
Pedri isn’t the first star to come from these islands and make a name for himself in the European Championships. As you’ll see, the Canary Islands have provided some great footballers for the national team and club teams, starting with one of the most decorated of all time.
In terms of international football, David Silva’s record is hard to beat. He’s got two European Championships to his name and a World Cup. He spent much of his playing career with Manchester City, where he won the Premier League on four occasions and the FA Cup twice. Sadly, domestic European success has eluded Manchester City, and therefore Silva, too.
Still, having played 125 times for his country, scoring 35 goals, he has to be hailed as one of the finest footballers from the Canary Islands. He was born in Arguineguín, Gran Canaria, which put it on the map with foreign tourists. As a youth, he played for nearby Maspalomas.
Juan Carlos Valeron
Valeron played at a difficult time for the Spanish side, registering 46 caps and five goals between 1998 and 2005. He was part of the era before the likes of David Silva elevated Spain’s underachieving national team to new heights, but he was still a super player.
Like Silva, he was born in Arguineguín in Gran Canaria, and broke through as a pro on the island, playing for Las Palmas. He was part of the Spanish Under 21 side that won the 1998 European Championships, but domestic success eluded him. Whilst at Deportivo, he did win the Copa Del Rey and the Intertoto Cup. He finished his career with the same club he started, Las Palmas.
Not to be confused with Pedri, Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma is a 33-year-old legend with a string of trophies behind him. He was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and played youth football for San Isidro before Barcelona snapped him up at 17. He has a World Cup and European Championships medal in his collection, along with five La Liga titles and three Champions League triumphs with Barcelona.
He’s currently with Roma in Italy but has tasted success with English side Chelsea. He won a Europa League and Premier League, making him one of the most decorated players ever to come from these shores. If Barcelona has half the success with Pedri that they had with Pedro, then the Canary Islands football heritage is secure for another generation.
Image: Антон Зайцев, David Silva 2018, CC BY-SA 3.0