“My boots are my second skin”

Javi López has devoted his entire life to football, and, just when he thought he had lost it all, the Reds gave him new life.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

Javi López’s taped-up white boots are like a ‘second skin’ for Adelaide United’s defensive stalwart, simultaneously representing a rebirth in the game he so dearly loves.

López sported a heavily damaged left boot against Perth Glory at the weekend, after a crunching tackle from Anthony Caceres made a large tear the match prior away to Sydney FC.

While López could have easily accessed a new pair of boots, the Spaniard instead elected to use standard red electrical tape to patch them up.

Remarkably, it was the same pair of boots he has been wearing in every game for the last three years and, on the in-step, they’re stamped with the name of his daughters, Julieta and Adriana.

“These boots are now famous boots and I feel too comfortable with this particular pair so when they broke the other week I was devastated,” López explained.

“These boots feel like a second skin to me.

“Some of the boys gave me new ones and I tried training with them, but they’re too tight and too tough, even after using a boot stretching machine, so I want to wear these for as long as possible.

“I have some new boots in Spain too and the boys are joking around saying they will put in 10 cents a day for new ones, but I will keep using these until I really can’t.”

Images of López’s torn footwear and red tape travelled as far as Spain, and his former teammates were even offering to send some down from the motherland.

But the most critical press the boot received was that of Julieta‘s classroom, when she brought them in for show and tell immediately following the incident.

“First of all, Julieta was devastated and couldn’t believe ‘her boot’ had broken, but wanted to show them to her friends.

“I joked with her and said: ‘Do you really want to bring these into your classroom? They are probably very smelly, and you might need to put a little perfume on them!’”

“She showed all her classmates the boots and she said they had a lot of questions about them, but couldn’t answer all of them.”

Javi López with his daughters Adriana (left) and Julieta (right) at Coopers Stadium.

The boots, and López’s path to Adelaide United, began near the end of López’s 252-game playing career in La Liga at the close of the 2019/20 season.

The former Espanyol captain was met with a deep depression following the sudden termination of his contract after his team was relegated from the top flight of Spanish football.

He was forced to train alone for two to three months in the cold and wet around his hometown of Osuna which has a population of about 17,000.

It was one of the darkest moments of his life, as described by a candid López himself: “Football is everything to me and losing my contract at Espanyol was incredibly difficult,” he admitted.

“When I was training on my own, the wind would blow the cones away and I thought to myself: ‘What the hell am I doing here? What is the point of all of this?’”.

“It was the hardest time of my life because I had only known football and my dream was almost finished.”

Javi López made his debut for Espanyol in 2009 and went on to make more than 250 appearances, whilst also captaining the club.

When he arrived in Adelaide, courtesy of one of his best friends and now United teammate, Juande, as well as Isaías and then Director of Football, Bruce Djite, López found a family and was rejuvenated once more.

It’s said so often now that it’s almost a cliché, but Adelaide United really is a family to all those not only fortunate enough to wear the red on the pitch, but sport the colours around the fortress that is Coopers Stadium.

“The people in the club, my teammates, and the fans respect me, and they have made me complete again,” he said.

“I feel such a close connection and I’m finally back to being happy.

“I really appreciate all of this because it pulled me out of a bad moment in my life and the dream of a football career can be over at any moment.

Javi López celebrates scoring a goal against Western United at Coopers Stadium.

“I’m always ready to play through anything for this team and these fans because they have shown so much respect to me and to my family and we are all very happy here.”

But still it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Real Betis youth product when he first arrived in Adelaide in November 2020.

He was soon dealt another cruel blow in the form of a knee injury out of nowhere.

Just a month into the start of this next chapter on 31 December while shopping with his family, he found that suddenly he couldn’t walk and his knee started swelling dramatically. He did feel it initially after a tackle at training the day before, but he was able to continue the session without any further issues.

Ironically, New Year’s Eve is the night Spaniards eat twelve grapes for each month of the coming year to bring good luck for them and their family.

The doubts starting creeping back into López’s mind.

“When that injury happened, it was also another really bad time for me because I was ready to get started with United and then I got this problem.

“Those bad thoughts started creeping in again because I was a new player, a foreign player, and a lot of people depend on me to perform.

“I started to think negatively but again, luckily, the coaching staff and Bruce and the Club believed in me.

“They gave me another year and things have been working out well since then, and I’m very grateful for it.”

Well, López must have eaten 24 grapes at the end of 2021, because his 2022 continues to be one of the most outstanding and consistent calendar years for an individual player the A-Leagues has seen.

The red shirt of Adelaide United is akin to the red tape of Javi López’s boots he says are a second skin; it’s a second chance to come back from the lowest of footballing lows to find a new lease on life in the game he has devoted his entire being to.

Only at Coopers – Adelaide United memberships on-sale now.