Cani (Spanish footballer)
Cani training with Villarreal in 2011
|Full name||Rubén Gracia Calmache|
|Date of birth||3 August 1981|
|Place of birth||Zaragoza, Spain|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|2000–2001||→ Utebo (loan)||15||(1)|
|2015||→ Atlético Madrid (loan)||4||(0)|
|2015–2016||Deportivo La Coruña||18||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2 April 2017.
Cani was born in Zaragoza. A youth graduate of his hometown's Real Zaragoza, he was shining in the B-team which was playing in Segunda División B after a loan stint with lowly Utebo FC in Tercera División and, as the main squad's fate was already decided in the 2001–02 season (relegation, ranking last) he received his first-team debut, playing 30 minutes in a 1–1 home draw against FC Barcelona.
After helping the Aragonese club regain its top flight status by appearing in 24 games and scoring five goals, his first coming on 23 March 2003 in a 2–0 win at Real Oviedo, Cani went on to become a vital midfield element. In the 2003–04 campaign, he helped Zaragoza win the Copa del Rey in a 3–2 extra time win against Real Madrid – he was also sent off during the match.
During 2005–06, Cani was one of La Liga's best passers, and at the season's end he signed with Villarreal CF for €11 million. He appeared in 32 games for the 2007–08 runners-up, although he did not score.
In the 2008–09 campaign, after a shaky start, which included not being called to some matches by coach Manuel Pellegrini in spite of being healthy, Cani finished strongly, scoring five times in the last nine appearances, including the final three: Real Madrid (3–2), Valencia CF (3–1) and RCD Mallorca (3–2), as Villarreal finished fifth; after the Chilean manager's departure to the Merengues, he again appeared in the starting XI regularly.
Cani continued to be an undisputed starter in 2010–11 – Robert Pirès had also left the club. On 9 January 2011, he netted the opener at Real Madrid, with a subtle finish inside the box; already on the bench, he threw a water bottle at opposing manager José Mourinho after the coach celebrated Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick (which put the score at 3–2 for the hosts, eventually 4–2) in front of his team's bench, being immediately sent off. The one-match suspension was later lifted, and he found the net in the next game, a 3–3 home draw against Sevilla FC for the season's domestic cup, and in the following, scoring from more than 50 metres in a 4–2 home win against CA Osasuna, with the Valencians eventually finishing the league in fourth place; he added three goals in a semi-final run in the UEFA Europa League, including one in each leg of the last-four clash against FC Porto in an eventual 4–7 aggregate loss.
On 7 January 2015, Cani joined Atlético Madrid on loan for the remainder of the season, after successfully passing a medical. He made his first appearance three weeks later, coming on as a substitute for Arda Turan for the last 27 minutes of a 2–3 home loss to Barcelona for the Spanish Cup quarter-finals (2–4 on aggregate).
On 23 July 2015, Cani terminated his contract with Villarreal and signed a one-year deal with Deportivo de La Coruña the following day. He left at the end of the campaign, contributing with 888 minutes to a 15th-place finish.
On 6 July 2016, Cani returned to his first club Zaragoza after agreeing to a two-year deal.
- El Barcelona se salva del siniestro total (Barcelona avoids complete wreck); El Mundo, 11 May 2002 (in Spanish)
- Beckham misses out on Cup; BBC Sport, 17 March 2004
- Villarreal make Cani move; UEFA.com, 26 May 2006
- Un equipo caduco y otro campeón (One expiring team and another champion); Marca, 17 May 2009 (in Spanish)
- El Villarreal ejecuta al Valencia (Villarreal executes Valencia); Marca, 23 May 2009 (in Spanish)
- Victoria sin historia del Villarreal (Hapless win for Villarreal); Marca, 30 May 2009 (in Spanish)
- Lucky Real Madrid win – and Cani throws water bottle at José Mourinho; The Guardian, 10 January 2011
- Cani inspires Villarreal; ESPN Soccernet, 15 January 2011
- Porto triumph as four-goal Falcao stuns Villarreal; UEFA.com, 28 April 2011
- Porto hold off valiant Villarreal to reach final; UEFA.com, 5 May 2011
- "Acuerdo con el Villarreal para la cesión de Cani" [Agreement with Villarreal for Cani loan] (in Spanish). Atlético Madrid. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
- Reddy, Luke (28 January 2015). "Atl Madrid 2–3 Barcelona". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- "Cani se desvincula del Villarreal CF" [Cani cuts ties with Villarreal CF] (in Spanish). Villarreal CF. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Cani, nuevo jugador del Deportivo" [Cani, new player of Deportivo] (in Spanish). Deportivo La Coruña. 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Cani vuelve al Real Zaragoza" [Cani returns to Real Zaragoza] (in Spanish). Real Zaragoza. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
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