The final whistle of the match against Deportivo de La Coruña sounded and Vall, before letting himself be guided by euphoria, took the ball in his arms like a spring to wrap it around his chest. Literally.

Vall protected the leather from the onslaught of the fans, who took to the pitch of the old Vallejo pitch to celebrate Levante’s historic promotion to the First Division. The striker, one of the emblems of the team that stormed the walls of the Spanish top flight for the first time in the history of the club, was aware that an iconic treasure lay in his hands. And he was prepared to defend that coveted piece with his life if necessary.

It was a time of tumult and unbridled uproar, with the stands on fire with the significance of a victory capable of reaching eternity. There were justifiable reasons for such displays of joy. Vall was hoisted into the sky of the Alboraya Street stadium by the Levante supporters in an unmistakable sign of jubilation.

Vall, like the rest of his teammates, walked across the pitch on the shoulders of the Granotas fans. The heartbeat of the promotion play-off had not yet been extinguished. On that journey the player was stripped of his shirt. Nevertheless, he held on to the ball tenaciously and steadfastly. The fight, at times, was titanic as the protagonist himself always confirmed, smiling broadly, when questioned about this exciting episode from a personal and group perspective.

“I was the smart guy who kept the ball”, he said in the documentary ‘El Dia que el Gat pujà a la palmera’ broadcast by RTVV. There are testimonies of that unforgettable adventure. The photographic material kept by the Levante U.D. Heritage Department dispels any hint of doubt.

The image of Vall celebrating his heroics on the pitch, shielding the ball from the furtive and passionate gazes of the blaugrana fans around him, was real. It was not a daydream of the speedy striker in a moment of maximum delirium. It all happened as he recounted on countless occasions.

In the photos preserved, there is no longer any trace of the shirt in which he jumped onto the pitch, although he clutches the ball in his arms like a precious commodity to raise it to the height of his head in order to prevent any carelessness. “No one is coming here. The ball is mine,” he seemed to say.

A close relationship germinated between Vall and that ball that time prolonged. Perhaps it was like a crush that provoked an immediate seduction. There was love at first sight. Vall capitalised on the attention in a memorable match. He unleashed Serafin’s penalty. He angered defenders with the ball stuck to his foot. He later caressed the ball home to score the winner (2-1) after linking up with Wanderley. It was in the second act of the match with the game drawing to a close. The goal broke the deadlock after Montalvo’s strike. Levante were on the edge of the Primera Division horizon after several attempts at a frustrating finish.

For many years the leather rested in his private home as an exceptional witness to a day of deep emotion for all the Levante supporters. Every time he looked at it, one of the most exciting episodes of his professional career came back to his memory..

Perhaps Vall was a visionary or perhaps he was an idealist. Perhaps the decision to keep that round ball was made long before the conclusion of a superlative confrontation with the Galician side. In the closing stages of the match, Vall determinedly claimed the ball from his team-mates to embrace the corner in a desperate attempt to stall for time until the coveted ninety minutes were reached. Later he guarded a relic that forms part of the most extraordinary memories of Levante’s history.

This was no ordinary ball. Printed on the front you can read the NITRAM brand and a legend that says; “For Primera teams”. That afternoon, Levante was projected into a dimension it had never known before. The Primera División was shining brightly. The NITRAM brand evokes the name of Mariano Martín, a legendary striker for F.C. Barcelona in the 1940s. NITRAM is the inversion of the surname Martín. Mariano Martín set up a sports clothing and equipment business in Barcelona. Those balls evoke the history of Spanish football that is lost in the mists of time.

Perhaps Vall alone thought of tomorrow and the weight of history. Perhaps he alone imagined that ball as an emblem of a moving afternoon resisting the passing of the calendar pages.

Perhaps he was not aware of the significance of this manoeuvre. Or perhaps he was aware of his every move.

It is unquestionable that he acted that afternoon in June 1963 with an undeniable vision of the future. His sense of responsibility was paramount in bequeathing to generations of Granotas a true fetish.

The club was always very present in his mind. In fact, he was always in favour of sharing the promotion ball with the institution and the militant Levante fans. Vall always felt very close to Levante. It was a club that was very close to his heart. The long awaited donation has been consummated in the present. The Vall-Barreda family has decided to donate the ball to Levante and a pair of boots that he wore during his time with the club.

Sixty years later everything has changed. Vallejo is a stage that evokes a past that will never return. Fortunately the universe of the Primera División does not emerge in the eyes of Levante as a chimerical challenge and Vall, unfortunately, has not been with us since the summer of 2018. However, his memory will always be as eternal as the ’63 promotion ball and his boots.