Barça boy Orlandi promoted with the Swans but twice denied with the Seagulls

Articulate Andrea Orlandi would probably rank as one of my favourite Albion players of recent times. It was just a shame he seemed bedevilled by injuries which curtailed his contribution.

On his day, his technical ability definitely improved Brighton’s creativity going forward and I guess he’ll always be remembered for the goal he scored against Premier League Newcastle in the third round of the FA Cup on 5 January 2013 which he somehow guided in from what seemed an impossible angle.

On bbc.co.uk, the match report recorded: “A rejuvenated Wayne Bridge surged down the left flank, gathered Gordon Greer’s raking 50-yard pass and crossed for Orlandi, who flicked the ball up with his left foot and delightfully fired home with the outside of the same boot.”

Orlandi was 28 when Gus Poyet signed him on a two-year contract on transfer deadline day in August 2012. “Andrea provides us with versatility and creativity across the midfield,” Poyet told the club’s official website.

“He can play as a typical winger, or more central in a number 10 role. He has played a lot of games in the Championship for Swansea, helping them win promotion, and he has played at the top level.”

It was crowd favourite Craig Noone’s departure to Cardiff that created the opening for Orlandi’s arrival, although they were very different players.

At Brighton, Orlandi had the chance to renew his great friendship with Seagulls legend Inigo Calderon, a former Alavés B side teammate, and there was quite a contingent of Spanish players at the club during that 2012-13 season.

As the Seagulls finished fourth and the Poyet era came to a close after the Palace play-off farce, Orlandi had played 30 games plus five as sub and added six league goals to that one in the FA Cup.

Under Poyet’s successor Oscar Garcia, Orlandi picked up a knee injury in the opening game of the season, against Leeds, which required surgery.

“The doctor I went to see is regarded as one of the best in Europe so although it was disappointing that I had to undergo surgery, I was in the best hands,” he told the club website. “Although I was hoping rest would cure the problem, I was told I would risk further damage if I didn’t have surgery.”

As it turned out, he managed just 12 starts plus six as sub as the season culminated in yet more play-off heartache, this time at the hands of Derby County.

Orlandi played in both legs against the Rams but, following Garcia’s decision to quit, Orlandi was somewhat surprised to find himself deemed surplus to requirements when the end of season retained list was announced.

He told the club website: “I’m sad. My youngest daughter was born here and I was hoping to stay here a lot longer but that is football.

“I really felt loved by everyone, especially the fans who were incredible to me whether I was on the pitch or off of it and that is something that nothing will ever take away from me.

“The city and all the people in it are wonderful and I wish everyone nothing but the best going forward and I hope the club can fulfil the dream of playing in the Premier League soon. I’m just sorry I couldn’t help to make that happen.

“It is a real shame that in my two years we got so close but we just couldn’t get over the finish line, but I will take away some magnificent memories with me.

“Once again I just want to pay tribute to the tremendous support I have felt during my time here.”

Born in Barcelona on 3 August 1984, he made 58 appearances for the Deportivo Alavés B team between 2003 and 2005.

When loaned to Barcelona, he continued to be a B team player but he did play two first team games for the Catalan giants: as left back in a 3-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao and a Copa Cataluyna win over Espanyol.

When Alavés  released him in 2007, fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez picked him up as a free agent and took him to Swansea City, where he stayed for five years.

Managerial changes at the Swans meant he wasn’t always first choice although on signing a contract extension in July 2011, chairman Huw Jenkins said: “He has grown into the squad over the past few years and his technical ability is well suited to the Premier League.”

He was part of Brendan Rogers’ squad promoted to the Premier League via a 4-2 play-off final win over Reading, appearing 24 times over the season, although he didn’t feature in the final at Wembley.

In one of his last Swansea games, on 28 April 2012, Orlandi scored after just 25 seconds of a Premier League game against already-relegated Wolves, but the game finished 4-4.

After his release from Brighton, he joined chaotic Championship side Blackpool, the day before the 2014-15 season started – with only a week to go, they had only eight registered professionals.

Under initially Jose Riga and then Lee Clark, Orlandi played 25 games plus five as sub, but the Tangerines finished rock bottom of the league, and the club was in disarray.

Orlandi revealed some of the strange goings-on in a weekly blog he wrote for Spanish website am14, including the time the goalkeeper Joe Lewis had to wear an autographed shirt intended for a presentation to a sponsor because there was no other top available.

In April 2015, Orlandi wrote: “When you first arrive in England in mid-April you imagine yourself spending your Sundays in the garden or having a drink on the terrace… you don’t imagine yourself stuck at home, listening to the wind and spending hours hiding from a hurricane. I have been living in England for almost eight years and the sun has always shone. This year is nothing like that, not in any sense. I will be patient and hopefully the nice weather will arrive before the end of the month. In terms of the football, the sun did not appear for Blackpool either.”

Orlandi also used the blog to talk about a defeat at Ipswich. “We started well, I scored a good goal thanks to a great assist from Cameron, and we lost. In part, this was thanks to my mistake which helped lead to their second goal.

“It was an error without explanation. ‘The pitch condition, the bounce of the ball, it came from a rebound’… excuses do not sit well with me. Unfortunately, sometimes we make inexplicable errors and that happened to me. I have to take responsibility, accept it and move on. The worst is that we equalised again and finally conceded 3-2 due to another silly play. It is the story of this season.

“When the league is finished, I will look at all the results and I shudder to think of the points that we have lost in, to put it mildly, a stupid fashion. Maybe we would not have avoided relegation but we would be in a different position, that is for sure.”

As the scorer of four goals, he was Blackpool’s second highest goalscorer for the season and, despite relegation, they hoped to keep him, but he invoked a release clause in his contract and became a free agent.
In August 2015, Orlandi signed for Cypriot First Division side Anorthosis Famagusta on a one-year deal but it didn’t sound like it was the greatest of experiences when Argus reporter Brian Owen caught up with him in February 2016, with Orlandi disappointed he hadn’t been able to find another English club in the Championship.

Last season, Orlandi switched clubs in Cyprus and joined APOEL but his one-year deal was terminated in January 2017 after he’d made 19 appearances.

 

Pictures from various online sources

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