It’s now eleven years since a Spaniard won the Pichichi – the award for finishing as the top scorer in La Liga.
Lionel Messi picked up his record-equalling sixth after a 36-goal haul this season that continues the duopoly of the individual accolade by the Argentine and ex-Real Madrid man Cristiano Ronaldo.
The pair have claimed the Pichichi eight times since the 2007/08 season, with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez making up the remaining two winners since La Liga last had a Spaniard at the top of the scoring charts.
Dani Guiza remains the last Spanish native to win the award after he scored 27 goals for Mallorca in the 2007/08 season, also making him the last player with fewer than 30 goals to finish a campaign as the top scorer.
The Spaniard’s tally from that season looks a modest one when you consider that Ronaldo once missed out on the Pichichi despite scoring 46 goals – a frightening reminder that La Liga’s elite continue to skew all sense of what is humanly possible on a football pitch.
However, Guiza’s triumph becomes so much more impressive when you dig a little deeper.
An archetypal flawed genius who once admitted that “the night time confuses me,” the Spaniard was a classic case of someone who had the ability but allowed off-field distractions to spill over onto the pitch.
Upon signing for Getafe in 2005, Club President Angel Torres claimed that apart from Ronaldo Nazario, Guiza was ‘the best finisher in La Liga,’ but confessed that the player’s eccentric personal life was a natural caveat.
The Madrid-based club were even forced to impose a liquid food diet on the forward after he suffered a stomach infection from suspected alcohol poisoning.
Having done the rounds at numerous Spanish clubs, including a brief stint with the Barcelona B team, Guiza returned to Mallorca – somewhere he had failed to establish himself as a regular between 1999-2003.
For a man who was so easily tempted off the pitch, it’s unusual that the 24/7 party island of Mallorca would provide the backdrop for the greatest personal success of his career.
Gregorio Ballesteros committed his Mallorca side fronted by Guiza to a brand of expansive attacking football, a surprise considering the club’s limited La Liga experience.
Guiza started the season in modest form, scoring 11 goals in 25 games and at one point found himself eight behind the man in pole position for the Pichichi – Sevilla’s Luis Fabiano.
However, over the last 13 matches of the season, the Spaniard scored 16 times and capitalised on the poor form of his Brazilian rival who ended the campaign on 24 goals.
Crucial to Guiza’s success that season was a near-telepathic relationship with Ariel Ibagaza – Mallorca’s Argentine playmaker who finished the 2007/08 campaign with 15 assists, second only to Guti in La Liga.
In a strange coincidence, it’s Ibagaza who prevented Guiza from scoring even more.
The Argentine was the club’s primary penalty taker meaning Guiza didn’t take a single spot kick during his award-winning season.
Mallorca scored four La Liga penalties during the campaign and had the Spaniard been given the responsibility, his overall tally could have exceeded 30 goals.
Despite Guiza’s Pichichi aspirations, having to concede penalty responsibilities to his team-mate was something he “respected.”
The forward’s eye for goal rocketed Mallorca up the La Liga table and helped the Balearic Islands club to finish 7th, just one place and one point shy of a historic UEFA Cup spot.
Now 38 and playing with Spanish fourth division side Atletico Sanluqueno, Guiza reflects fondly on that season and his time with Mallorca, confessing “it’s my home.”
“I scored 27 goals and I was top scorer without scoring a single penalty, that’s not easy,” he said.
“Mallorca is where I managed to make the leap to the national team to play in the European Championship and then win it.”
Guiza’s charm came in his ability to own his reputation as an eccentric provincial star.
He’s the unlikely hero whose style sticks two fingers up to the majesty of Messi, yet he still has the Argentine to thank for preserving his legacy.
The 20 goals of Iago Aspas this season is the latest effort from a Spaniard to repeat the trick of the former Mallorca man.
While La Liga remains Messi’s playground, it’s unlikely that Guiza’s record will be broken any time soon.
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