Football has its own version of the Harlem Globetrotters

Harry Kettle

When it comes to international football, everyone has a different opinion. Some love getting caught up in the passion and togetherness of the tournaments; others throw things around their house upon learning there’s going to be an international break.

And then there’s the story of the Catalonia national team; a story that unites both sides of the opinion on international football.

In logistical terms, Catalonia is a community on the north-eastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula made up of four provinces, including Barcelona. Now with the boring geography out of the way, let’s discuss the football.

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Since 1904, Catalonia have been a force to be reckoned with in; playing internationals against other nations, with a whole host of world-class talent turning out for them over the years.

However, the ever so slight hiccup is that all of their players are fully eligible to play for Spain, and given the strength of that national side it’s hard to compete. Also, the Catalonia side aren’t actually a part of either FIFA or UEFA so the best they can hope for in terms of professional games would be a friendly.

But that hasn’t stopped them from consistently making history. Catalonia provide a delightful alternative to the world of professional football, because it’s almost like a hidden underground that nobody speaks of. Much like Basque country, they are hidden away in a deep dark corner and only come out every few years to test themselves against some of the top teams that world football has to offer.

In terms of players, there’s been some mighty big ones: Puyol, Fabregas, Pique, Guardiola, Busquets, Garcia, Valdes and Xavi have all been a part of the squad at one point or another. The crazy thing about that is simple – they’re just a selection of names used as examples.

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If you were able to nurture this side and formulate a team to compete at the World Cup and European Championships, we’d get some pretty fascinating results. Obviously this would all be contingent on Spain not being an established nation with a three consecutive international titles to their name, but we can allow our minds to wonder.

Since 2008 Catalonia have only played once a year, making their appearances feel all the more special. Astonishingly, they’ve only actually lost once in their last nine games which includes a monumental 4-2 triumph over Argentina. It’s as if these players are bored of breezing to victory week in and week out, so choose to embarrass sides on an international stage, as well. Remarkable.

If you ever get the chance, try and make it to one of these games. It’s like we’ve got our own football version of the Harlem Globetrotters.

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