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The truth of the Rollán myth: from the success to the depression of the icon of an unrepeatable selection


A book deciphers the life and death of the water polo goalkeeper who supported a successful team that conquered the world

Francisco Ávila and Alberto Martínez, authors of the book "Eterno Rollán, life and death of a legend." Kike Rincon (EL PAÍS)

Accustomed to the crowd, Jesús Rollán committed suicide when he felt alone no matter how accompanied he was by his mother and those who took care of his health in an addiction treatment center in La Garriga.

He was no longer comfortable anywhere and did not distinguish between inmates and visitors, as if he did not recognize anyone, neither in Barcelona nor in Madrid, nor in Vallirana and in Italy.

He didn't even have the strength to live once he ran out of competitive adrenaline and lost his sense of risk and limit, sucked into the void, anonymous as if sick after being the most famous water polo goalkeeper, genius and figure since Barcelona 92 until Athens 2004.

The Spanish team that dominated the 1990s, the last one to win Olympic gold (Atlanta 96) and also the most tribal and romantic of the champions, was sustained by Rollán's saves and soul.

That group transcended for its victories —silver in 1992 and world champion in 1998 and 2001—;

for its miscegenation —the Catalan technique was combined with the character of Madrid based on the wisdom of the coach Toni Esteller (1986-1990)—;

because of his popularity —he hooked the people and royalty with the presence of the Infanta Cristina at matches and was the only national player in those hard times who played in the Basque Country— and because of Rollán's strength and unifying capacity.

More information

Jesus Rollan dies

There isn't a team with a similar history or a player with the countenance of Rollán.

Impossible to imitate, he never wanted to be exemplary and it was even difficult to explain until Francisco Ávila (Montcada i Reixac, Barcelona; 1964) and Alberto Martínez (Barcelona; 1984) wrote the book Jesús Rollán Eterno.

Life and Death of a legend (editorial Córner).

The audiovisual story was missing a personalized work on the goalkeeper who died at the age of 37.

Nobody dared until Ávila convinced Martínez in 2016 and they produced an excellent journalistic text that deciphers the Rollán myth.

Although it was not easy to pull the thread, some 60 testimonies participated in a fieldwork that flees from sensationalism and focuses on information.

“It was difficult for us to get people to open up”, agree the authors.

“What's the point of delving into Jesus? they wondered.

An explosive cocktail could be assembled around the character because they mixed flammable materials: success, alcohol, drugs, depression, suicide, Urdangarín and Cristina.

It was necessary to flee from sensationalism and respect the person without ceasing to deal with issues that were then taboo: drug addiction, withdrawal management, lack of psychological assistance and death”, Ávila and Martínez insist.

Jesús Rollán, during a match of the Spanish team.

"There was a buried story and a wound to heal," they maintain, "and we tried to gain testimonies after asserting that we would respect the

off the record

and we would be the ones who would build the story with the contrast of opinions and facts, an option that allowed us gain complicity”.

The story of Rollán is explained from the water of a swimming pool: immortal inside and perishable outside, hero and martyr, victim of a time when successful players ran the risk of being condemned to failure when they became unknown: "No I know how to do nothing else”, he repeated when he retired in 2004.

Someone suggested that he study computer science without knowing that as a student he hardly went to class and nobody cared that he caught or had fun, that he was a hooligan, because he was an unbeatable goalkeeper after leaving Madrid for that Blume residence that some elite athlete wanted to convert in a party room in Barcelona.

There are still those who believe that Rollán was an agricultural engineer because he wrote it sarcastically in the section that put profession on the document that the players filled out to travel to Atlanta.

The medal of those Games was given away for the charity auction of the Antena 3 Telemarathon —it was awarded for two million pesetas—.

Altruistic and aware of his ascendancy and charisma, he also acted as a leader because of his magnetism and the confidence he conveyed: “Guys!

Nothing happens, here I am”, he repeated every time he stopped the ball, kissed it and raised his fist, irreducible and with a gene that allowed him to win athletic tests in his school years, to be a good basketball and soccer player. and receive a call to try out in Madrid the day he decided on water polo.

"I would have succeeded in any sport," Martinez defends.

"I control!"

The virtues that you have as a player are not inherited when you become a coach and Rollán did not know how to act as a coach;

neither was his family life bearable and he did not find help in the administration at the time, so much so that he was a nobody, even for Iñaki Urdangarín, then vice president of the COE.

The book tells that he had even bought the suit for a wedding to which he was not invited, despite being the one who had introduced the couple: Iñaki and Cristina.

Nothing made sense to Citizen Rollan anymore.

He didn't know how to take care of himself after going out of his way for others.

Rollán symbolizes the beginning and the end of a generation so unique that it makes you want to equate it to a rock band or the Beat Generation.

In their own way, they wrote an unforgettable, unrepeatable and transgressive story, as loved as it was unloved, because it was flattered and pampered even knowing that it would not continue, "it would be difficult for it to happen today when technification and professionalization have changed sport," Martínez and Avila.

“Those players saw the best years of their lives.

They had talent, they were models, they earned money and, buoyed by success, in some cases they did not deprive themselves of anything”;

Toto García confessed to being a cocaine addict and had to take refuge in the house of coach Rafa Aguilar to avoid taking risks before the anti-doping controls of Barcelona 92.

Rollán's mind was a mystery, powerful in his time as a goalkeeper, when he endured the worst injuries, and fragile since his retirement, "a big boy without jealousy or evil" as his friend Jordi Payà explains.

Nothing better to know about his personality than the prologue of his niece and daughter Asia and the letter from his friend Tibor Benedek.

The work assures that that mythical goalkeeper who had a parrot that shouted Hala Madrid!

he needed to go to the bathroom to vomit and get rid of his nerves before each demanding match, the same need that Johan Cruyff felt.

"I'm in control, don't worry!", he replied when asked if everything was going well despite knowing that something was wrong, until one day, despondent at not recognizing himself in the mirror, he looked into the abyss and left without fulfilling the promise announced when he was at the top: "I will retire in the Caribbean."

Always the water, where his ashes rest, in the Mediterranean.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2022-05-16

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