Naxto Insa’s pivotal contribution in that 2016-17 Levante side that won promotion to LaLiga is still fondly remembered by current squad members.
It is a common trait that when a foreign player joins a Malaysian team whether it is in the Super League or Premier League, the chances are that the player falls into one of two categories – someone with plenty to prove or someone who is on the tail-end of their career.
Which makes the signing of Ignacio ‘Natxo’ Insa by Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in the middle of the 2017 season such a outlier in the fact that this was a player who came in at the peak of his powers having just been an integral member of the Levante side that clinched the 2016-17 Segunda Division title.
Insa went on to show that on the pitch as he integrated seamlessly into the JDT side, helping them to pick up the 2017 Malaysia Super League title, displaying the game intelligence and quality in the engine room of the Southern Tigers.
In an interview organised by LaLiga as part of their build-up towards the Villareal and Levante encounter this coming weekend, Insa was put together in a conversation with current Levante player Sergio Postigo and former Villlareal and Spain star, Marcos Senna.
Remembering his former team mate, Postigo suggested that the team felt the absence of Natxo in their return to the top flight of Spanish league football and that Natxo was seen as someone who could have provided a big contribution to the team at the highest level.
“It was a good year in every way, both on a sporting and a human level. Natxo already knows what I thought when he left, he was a very important player for the team. The team noticed it the following season, it was hard for us to maintain the same level. He would have been a very important player once again in that season,” said Postigo.
When asked to reminisce about his time with the team, understandably Insa had extremely fond memories of what was a very successful season for him and the club. The experience and education he received during his time in Spanish football has helped JDT greatly, in particular during those AFC Champions League matches.
“I remember my time in Levante, we achieved the goal of promotion with 6 matches to spare, in our stadium with our friend and families all there. One of those days that I will always remember. We had some impressive teammates, both as players and as people, we enjoyed it very much.
“From here I send my greetings to Postigo who continues to show the professionalism that he showed when I was there,” said Natxo during the chat.