It’s been a fiercely fought Catalan derby yet Barcelona comfortably lead their hosts Espanyol 5-1. The vitriol and abuse aimed at the Barcelona players that has cascaded down from the stands throughout the game, including later unconfirmed reports of racist chanting towards Dani Alves, temporarily ends in the 85th minute when Barcelona make a substitution.
Andres Iniesta is being removed and the Cornellà-el Prat rises to salute their chief tormentor from their despised city rivals. The Espanyol players turn to acknowledge their conqueror and join in, applauding the diminutive playmaker as he leaves the pitch. A banner hangs at one end of the stadium with the face of former Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, two simple words written underneath; “Gracias Iniesta”.
In the age of moronic choreographed goal celebrations where players are overly self indulgent, few celebrations are so passionate and raw that they remain with you, and in some respects, become almost as important as the goal itself. Almost.
These goals become iconic, for the goal itself and all that surrounds it. You cannot consider the goal alone. It has to be placed within the wider context. What the goal is and what it represents. The goal has greater meaning than just the number on the electronic scoreboard flickering above the stand. You see the result written down some years later and you recall the goal and the celebration.
On that night in South Africa in 2010, when Iniesta hit that volley low beyond the outstretched arm of Maarten Stekelenburg and into the bottom corner of the net, the following seconds have become etched on the memory. The images beamed around the world since that time capture the goal which won the World Cup for Spain yet the celebration has secured its position, and memory of one man, on the podium alongside the World Champions. Iniesta removed his jersey to reveal a somewhat scrawled handwritten message on his undershirt;
Dani Jarque Siempre Con Nosotros
It translates as “Dani Jarque Always With Us”. The message brought a talented player to the level of prominence that his young career had hinted at before it was abruptly cut short in 2009.
Daniel Jarque i González was raised in the Saint Boi de Llobregat neighbourhood in the southwestern suburbs of Barcelona. Playing for the local youth club, he had a number of suitors’ pursuing him before opting to join Espanyol at the tender age of 12.
Jarque would spend his entire playing career with Espanyol. As a youngster, he showed great promise and was capped by Spain at under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 level. During this time, Jarque captained the U-19 team to European success in Norway in 2002. The likes of Antonio Reyes and Fernando Torres played in that team. The seeds of friendship were also sown with a young player who was progressing his way through the cantera at city rivals Barcelona.
The success abroad brought acknowledgement at home and Jarque’s first team debut arrived on 20 October 2002 in a league match against Recreativo Huelva. The next two years would be spent alternating between the B team and the first team as Jarque fought to establish himself. Jarque made 82 appearances and scored 12 goals for Espanyol B before Coach Lotina promoted him to the first team squad for the start of season 2004/05.
The high point of Jarque’s career would arrive in 2006 when Espanyol won the Copa del Rey defeating Real Zaragoza in the final. The win brought UEFA Cup qualification the following season and led to an improbable run to the final before los periquitos (the parakeets) were defeated by Sevilla.
Having enjoyed the highs, Jarque would experience the low of a poor league campaign for Espanyol which ended with the side narrowly avoiding relegation. New coach Mauricio Pochettino had taken over in January 2009 and helped steer the club to safety.
The club had secured their top flight status, a new manager was in position with new ideas on style of play, the club was moving away from the former Olympic Stadium in Montjuic to a newly built home stadium. A glamour pre-season friendly against Liverpool was announced. Pochettino needed a new captain to guide and lead the club on the pitch. In July 2009, Daniel Jarque was confirmed as the new captain of Espanyol.
On August 2nd, 2009, Jarque captained Espanyol at the inauguration of the Cornellà-el Prat Stadium. Liverpool departed, on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat. Jarque, who had seen the good times with Espanyol and survived along with the club during the dark days was now leading his club into a new home and a new era. What should have been the beginning, was in fact the end. Within one week, Daniel Jarque had passed away.
Daniel Jarque collapsed and died at the age of 26 during Espanyo’s pre-season preseason tour of Italy. Jarque was reported to be speaking to his heavily pregnant girlfriend on the telephone, following a training session, when he suffered a heart attack. With the player not responding, his girlfriend contacted his roomate Ferran Corominas who subsequently found the player unconscious and contacted the emergency services. It was to no avail as Jarque had already passed away following heart failure.
One month after his death, Espanyol met Malaga in the first home game since Jarque passed away. Ivan Alonso scored for Espanyol during the game and dedicated his goal to Martina Jarque, the daughter of Daniel who was born during the course of the game.
Pochettino also dedicated the team’s victory to Jarque’s baby daughter, and paid homage to Jarque and his family.
It was the best possible tribute. We are very happy, very happy indeed, to dedicate this win to her mother and the family. For us this is an even more special day.
Since that day in August 2009, Jarque has been remembered by Espanyol and their supporters in a number of ways all of which has revolved around the number 21, the shirt number that he wore when he became club captain.
During every home game at the Cornellà-el Prat, the fans stand and applaud during the 21st minute of the game as a mark of remembrance for Jarque.
On the 21st January 2012 a bronze statue of Dani Jarque was unveiled at Gate 21 of the Cornella-El Prat in honour of their former captain.
A tribute match took place at the Cornellà-El Prat on Monday 3 June 2013 between a team made up of Jarque’s ex-team-mates and Espanyol players against a team made of players drawn mainly from La Liga. The Premier League was represented with David Silva and Cesc Fabregas participating. Andrés Iniesta led the Liga team, and the match ended in a 4-4 draw.
On the 21st minute, the match was stopped and Jarque’s family came out onto the pitch. Jarque’s daughter Martina was carried onto the pitch wearing a t shirt with the words “Moltes gràcies”; “Thank You” in Catalan.
On the eve of the game, the Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia was presented with second Dani Jarque Trophy, an award from Radio Catalunya for the best Espanyol player that season. The trophy itself is a scaled reproduction of a statue of Dani Jarque that stands at Gate 21.
On Monday 21 October 2013, Espanyol renamed their training ground after Dani Jarque. All of these tributes show the depth of feeling towards the player from the club and the fans.
The friendship which was fostered in Norway during the summer of 2002 between Jarque and Iniesta remained throughout Jarque’s short life. The shirt that Iniesta wore in Johannesburg that evening remains at Gate 21 of the Cornellà-el Prat.
I wanted to carry Dani with me, we wanted to pay tribute to him and we thought it was the best opportunity to do so
Iniesta received a yellow card for removing his jersey. A token punishment for an act that cannot be quantified.
It was a moment that transcended boundaries. A moment that sees Iniesta still receives applause wherever he goes in Spain. Yes, he scored the goal that delivered the World Cup but more than that, at the moment of the highest professional career point of a player, he honoured the captain of his city rivals and his friend, Daniel Jarque.