Profile: Rogelio Sosa

The mahogany left foot

Rogelio is a legend. One of the great Real Betis myths ever. A superb player who gave his entire sporting career to the Club, where he stayed for 16 straight seasons, since his debut in 1962 until his retirement in 1978. A name that left a print in a generation and that became the fans' icon for his personality, his skills, and his unpredictable football.

Rogelio Sosa Ramírez was born in Coria del Río (Seville) on the 15th of April of 1943. That is what he always stated because he was not registered until the 2nd of May of that same year, date that appeared in all of his official documents. He started his football career at Victoria Balompié in his hometown and signed for Betis Youth in 1957. In the 1960/1961 season, he was loaned out to Tomelloso, and a year later to Ponferradina, a Third Division team.

After this learning process he joined Real Betis first team and, on the 16 of September of 1962, coach Fernando Daucik played him for the first time in the first match of the season. The rival is no less than Real Madrid with Di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento. The Green and White line-ip for that LaLiga opening match was: Corral, Colo, Ríos, Areta, Montaner, Bosch, Portilla, Luis Aragonés, Ansola, Senekowitsch, Rogelio.

That season, Rogelio played 16 games, but he barely participated the following year even if the coach, Domingo Balmanya, always expressed his confidence in him. Rogelio's sporting life, though, changed at Ramón de Carranza Trophy in August of 1964.  He was the star of the tournament, won that year by Real Betis for the first time. Rogelio left Cádiz as an exceptional footballer wanted by big clubs for several seasons. For instance, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid tried to sign him, unsuccessfully, several times.

But Betis are not selling and thus he became the reference of that 'elevator' team. He is the key man in the promotion in 1967 and the captain when the 70s arrive. Rogelio means everything for the fans and personalises as nobody had done before how Betis is: different and unpredictable.

His position on the pitch also changes. He made his debut as a left winger but soon becomes a playmaker that canalises his team's football. However, coach Ferenc Szusza gave him the number 9 and played him many times as a striker. Whatever his position was, Rogelio was the team's top scorer for many consecutive seasons.

In 1965, he was world champion with the military national team; and made his debut with the U23 national team in the 1966/1067 season. An excellent curled free-kick taker, creator of dribbles like the one nicknamed 'the toast' and a great penalty shooter, Rogelio always had a prominent role in the team during all these years.

A skillfull player, exquisite, his left foot was renowned  in Spanish football and that' way he was nicknamed the 'mahogany left foot', soubriquet by which is remembered by the Green and White fans.

In September of 1974, the Club organised a tribute game in the match between Betis and Wisla Krakow. That night, another Green and White legend, Julio Cardeñosa, played his first game at Heliópolis.

Three years later, in 1977, he had the satisfaction of becoming Copa del Rey champion with Real Betis. He played several reounds but watched the final at Vicente Calderón from the bench. It's the pinnacle of his career and that's why all his teammates immediately gave the trophy to him so he could lift it.

His last game with Real Betis shirt took place the following season. It was his farewell after 16 years in the first team. No other player in the history of the club can say the same.

Apart from all that, Rogelio was always such a special guy that his quotes are well remembered. Sentences such as "running is for cowards" or "the head is for wearing a hat." And many times has been told that, before a decisive game against Mallorca, coach Antonio Barrios grabbed him by the arm before leaving the dressing room and told him: "Rogelio, run. At least today."

In the 16 seasons in which Rogelio Sosa wore the Green and White shirt he played 357 official games (301 league; 53 Cup; 2 promotion; and 1 Intercities Cup) and scored 88 goals.

Once his time as a player was over, he began another spell at the Club's service, this time as assistant coach and team delegate. He helped coaches such as Luis Carriega, Rafael Iriondo, Antal Dunai, Pedro Buenaventura, Marcel Domingo, Jorge D'Alessandro, José Ramón Esnaola, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, and Javier Clemente.

He left Betis in 200 after another 20 years at the Club. In total, an entire life dedicated to Real Betis and the Béticos. An idol, a symbol, and an example.