The A-Z of forgotten football heroes: T - Diego Tristan

At his peak, the Spanish striker scored 58 goals within just three seasons in La Liga.

The A-Z of forgotten football heroes: T - Diego Tristan
Tristan finished 2001-02 as La Liga's top goalscorer (photo: Getty Images / Firo Foto)

West Ham United fans may be wondering why this former striker has entered our list of forgotten football heroes after a barron spell with the Hammers. Yet Diego Tristan's form at the turn of the Millennium put his name amongst the La Liga greats during his time at Deportivo La Coruna

A promising start

Tristan was already becoming a regular name on the scoresheet during his late teens and early 20's at Real Betis B. 11 goals in three consecutive seasons made other teams take note and he soon signed for Real Mallorca B. After netting 15 times in the Segunda Division, he was promoted to the first team.

If anyone was unsure of Tristan's ability to perform in La Liga, their doubts were duly thwarted as Mallorca comfortably finished mid-table with Tristan scoring 18 goals, He ended up sixth in the goalscoring charts, four goals behind a certain Roy Makaay.

Peaking at Deportivo

Tristan was close to joining the likes of Raul and Fernando Morientes at Real Madrid before the deal fell through after a change of presidency. He ended up signing for Deportivo to boost their attacking options alongside Makaay.

With Deportivo favouring a 4-5-1 formation, Tristan struggled to become a regular ahead of Makaay and even threatened to leave. Yet the young sensation still managed to score 19 goals, just five behind league top goalscorer Raul, helping his side finish second in the league. He was rewarded with an international call for Spain and scored his first of four international goals against Bosnia.

Tristan became a regular starter for his club during 2001-02 in the best season of his career. Deportivo finished second in the league again but Tristan won the Pichichi Trophy after scoring 21 goals and topping the scoring charts. The club also finished the campaign with silverware as Tristan's five goals in the competition helped them win the Copa Del Rey.

 

 

The beginning of the end

Although the Spaniard maintained his excellent scoring record in cup competitions, goals in the league began to dry up after a serious ankle injury destroyed his fitness and confidence. Makaay regained his place as the lynchpin of the side and Tristan reached double figures for league goals in just one of the next four seasons. 

After 111 goals in six seasons, he moved back to Majorca. However, after failing to net in 15 games, he was released just six months later.

Just 4 goals in 38 games followed as he spent time with Livorno and then West Ham after a trial. After being released by the Hammers, he joined Segunda Division side Cadiz and scored eight league goals but could not save the club from relegation before hanging up his boots.

Spanish fans were left wondering what could have been after that ankle injury effectively hindered his career at the tender age of 27. However, for Deportivo, he will be remembered as a goalscoring supremo in his prime.