This Friday 22 February, Roberto Alés, the president who laid the path to glory, passed away at the age of 83.
Roberto Alés is crucial in understanding Sevilla FC's recent history. A club which had a big history but who found themselves in difficult times at the start of the 21st century, facing economic problems and staring the second division in the face. Someone had to step up and Alés, previously a member of the board, did so with courage to try and avoid what seemed inevitable.
Alés took the bull by the horns and in all of his gentlemanliness and wisdom he assumed the presidency full of dignity. He got straight to work by inculcating calmness, honesty, a hard-working spirit and humility, as well as making many important decisions. The names of Monchi, Caparrós, Moisés and Pablo Alfaro, to name some members of the squad, were vital in returning the club to its greatness and winning trophies. He was only in charge of the club for three years, from February 2000 to May 2002, but they were decisive years in the making of today's Sevilla FC. Roberto Alés humility is highlighted by the fact that, when his work began to bear fruit, he stepped aside so someone else could continue it.
Despite his health problems, he always put his devotion to Sevilla FC above anything else
Called to change Sevilla FC's history, Roberto Alés was convinced by José Castro, Augusto Lahore, Enrique González Merino, Juan Silverio, Eduardo Arenas, Américo Govantes, Luis Carrión and Antonio Jiménez Orta, after Rafael Carrión's resignation. No one would step up to save the sinking ship. Alés accepted the challenge and took charge of the club. His health problems did not keep him from the heavy duty that would now rest on his shoulders. Sevilla FC, his Sevilla FC, was at stake. That was enough.
These were tough times. The team was going to the second division. Money wasn't coming in and everything was dependent on the director's money. The first thing he did was to guarantee a loan of 25 million. There was a long way to go. Marcos Alonso left. So too did Tsartas. The ship was sinking, the fans became more panicked as they watched their team go down. But then, when everything seemed like it was going up in smoke, Alés managed to steer the ship clear. Sevilla FC, in some way, lives off its history, gifting it life in troubled times. And Alés warned: 'I will not let Sevilla go adrift.'
Alés could tell, with just looking into his eyes, that Caparrós would be the ideal candidate to change the team's history
After receiving rejections for the sporting team, they take a risk with Monchi who had asked to form part of the technical staff. The same situation occured with managers. Many request the role. Rafa Benítez is considered... But then the name of Joaquín Caparrós came up after an intervention from his agent Juan Maraver and the then vice president José Castro. All is resolved during a meal in Utrera. Alés wanted a honest but ambitious team. Caparrós was clear in this objective. They only needed to look into his eyes to know he was the right man. Another moment to change the club's history, another correct decision. And that's when the greatest Sevilla in history was born.
Roberto Alés knew he needed more men to take the ship forward. Ribera, Castedo, Casquero, César, Loren, Notario, Tevenet, Míchel and Pablo Alfaro all arrive for free but with the desire to conquer the world. They were humble and excellent signings, they joined up with the Uruguayan contingent and the talented academy players, but, most of all, with Joaquín Caparrós, who created the perfect atmosphere to make the dreams come true. Alés knew it was a risk but there was no other choice, the club had no funds. He went down to the dressing room and gives his word to the players that no matter what happens they would be paid. He guaranteed it. He always lived up to his word.
Office work was done with diligence, helped by the fortune that every team needs for success. The providence was a reward by the honesty and hard-working nature of a man who was sure in his work to get out of the predicament. Away trips have to be made in bus but an atmosphere was developing in the dressing room that the team could deal with any setback.
Promotion to the first division against all odds marked a before and after in Alés' presidency
Sevilla, against all odds, won promotion to the first division after winning the second with three matches to spare. The second big challenge then arrived for Alés and his board. The promotion would mean nothing if the team went straight back down again as happened in 2000. The team had to be able to cope in the top league. For another year the team had to keep dreaming, maximising their own potential as a result of the lack of funds. An exception was made for Moisés García León on Joaquín Caparrós express request. The club had to scrape together 125 million pesos. This may seem nothing today but back then it was a 'kidney'.
Alés knew money could not be wasted and everything had to go right. He agrees to the transfer, but when everything is to be signed the medical staff do not approve it. Alés took a risk and took personal economic responsibility of the transfer should there be injury problems. His intuition was proved right.
When his work began to bear fruit, he humbly stepped aside: there would be no stopping the work he put in place
Moisés scored 13 goals and was a key member of the attack alongside Olivera and Reyes. It's then, with Sevilla in eighth place and pushing for UEFA Cup qualification, with the club in a good economic shape due to their stay in the first division and the television money, that Roberto Alés, this incredible man who took the presidency when it seemed hopeless, decides to step aside. Just when his work was bearing fruit, this humble man understood that his age and health would make making the step into the elite difficult.
Furthermore, he knew his successor, José María del Nido, and he knew that he was the right man for the task. And once more he was right, with the presidencies of José María del Nido and José Castro bringing unprecedented success. Almost seventeen years after he left, Roberto Alés continues being a vital figure in Sevilla FC's current history. Rest in peace.