12.05.2024 21:27 h

Homecoming hero Perez fires former Liga champs Deportivo to promotion

Lucas Perez fired boyhood club Deportivo La Coruna back into Spain's second division with a 1-0 win over Barcelona Atletic on Sunday.

The former Arsenal striker paid half of his own transfer fee to return to his beloved Depor in January 2023 and helped the Galician side gain promotion with two games to spare at a jubilant Riazor stadium.

Depor won La Liga in 2000 and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2004 before a steep decline. They dropped out of La Liga in 2018 and then down to the third tier in 2020.

Perez, playing for top flight side Cadiz last season, decided to pay around half of his 1 million euro ($1.1 million) transfer fee to rejoin his Depor for a third spell at the club.

The 35-year-old striker scored 12 goals and provided 10 assists in his last 15 matches to help Depor gain promotion.

After plying his trade in Ukraine and Greece, Perez earned a dream move to Depor in 2015.

Arsenal signed him for 20 million euros ($21.5 million) in 2016, but he rejoined the Galician club on loan the following season.

Journeyman Perez played for West Ham United, Alaves and Elche before joining Cadiz in 2022.