Mirandes' surprising cup run helped by its banker

Mirandes' surprising cup run helped by its banker

Published Jan. 11, 2012 5:28 p.m. ET

By day, bank manager Pablo Infante discusses mortgages, loans and checking accounts with customers. By night, he's scoring the goals that have helped put third-division club Mirandes into the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey for the first time in its history.

Infante scored his competition-high fourth goal Tuesday in a 1-1 draw at Racing Santander, ensuring Mirandes advanced 3-1 on aggregate.

Despite a two-legged format that favors topflight clubs, Mirandes also managed to eliminate Villarreal in the fourth round.

''It's a dream to reach the quarterfinals. It's something that has never been achieved in 85 years of our history and we're living it,'' Infante told Spanish national TV. ''We should be proud. What we're living through is something that is truly incredible, a dream. Let's hope it continues.''


Infante has spurred Mirandes' improbable run, and the 31-year-old player's classy finishes and calm demeanor has also helped give the team a new set of supporters cheering for this season's domestic cup underdog.

Most of Mirandes' squad work full-time jobs apart from their club duties. Infante commutes about 50 kilometers (30 miles) to his job at a bank outside Mirando de Ebro, which lies halfway between Santander and Burgos. With weeknight cup games not starting before 8 p.m., Infante hasn't been getting as much sleep having to be in the office by 8 a.m the next day.

''We train every day except for Tuesdays, which means a lot of kilometers of travel with the car between training, work and home,'' Infante said after scoring a 71st-minute penalty in Santander. ''(But) to have a job in this economic climate is a privilege.''

Infante has been working at the same bank for seven years and regardless of how far the Copa del Rey run goes, his occupation sounds unlikely to change. He said he has already rejected offers to join other clubs.

''You have to stay happy in this life. I'm very happy in the job where I am now,'' said Infante, who joined the club in 2005 and helped it gain promotion into the third division four years later. ''I feel appreciated and I feel valued at this club.''

Mirandes will face either second-tier club Cordoba or topflight team Espanyol next. Fortunately, Mirandes is on the opposite side of the draw from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla.

No third-division side has ever reached the Copa del Rey final, with Figueres' run to the semifinals in 2002 the best so far.

''Nobody imagined we'd get this far,'' Infante said. ''But that's how things go in football.''


Paul Logothetis can be reached at: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP