Football: “One of the great myths of our sport”, Gento, death of a legend

This Tuesday morning, Real Madrid announced the death at 88 of Paco Gento. Paco Gento? A time that those under three times twenty cannot know. The man is however a legend of Spanish football and especially of the merengue club. The only player in history to have won six European Cups for champion clubs, the ancestor of the Champions League.

“The figure of Paco Gento faithfully represents all the values ​​of Real Madrid, he was, and will remain, a reference for “Madridism” and for the world of sport, wrote Real Madrid in a press release. The Madridistas (Editor’s note: club supporters) and all football lovers will remember him as one of the great legends of our sport. »

Gathered in a circle, the Madrid players observed a minute of silence in memory of their glorious elder before their training. Karim Benzema, one of Gento’s successors at the forefront of the attack, then posed with a white shirt at number 11 with the message “Hasta Siempre Don Francisco” (Forever Don Francisco).

In 18 seasons in the Spanish capital, between 1953 and 1971, Francisco “Paco” Gento had scored 182 goals in 601 games, and had forged an enormous record, with, in addition to his 6 European Cups, 12 European Championships. Spain and 2 Spanish Cups, among others. The lively and fast left winger had formed a fiery attack alongside Alfredo Di Stéfano, Hector Rial, Ferenc Puskas then Raymond Kopa (from 1956 to 1959), and had raised five consecutive C1s with the three first between 1956 and 1960.

He then won a sixth six years later, in 1966, alongside other legends like Manu Sanchis or Pirri. In total, Paco Gento played in 8 C1 finals, including two lost: in 1962 against Benfica Lisbon and in 1964 against Inter Milan. Another record that “the Galerna of Cantabria” (named after the wind that sweeps the northern coast of Spain) co-held with the Italian Paolo Maldini (AC Milan).

Gento, very physical but too clumsy, had nevertheless been criticized on his debut in the Madrid jersey. But the shady Di Stéfano had recommended Santiago Bernabeu, legendary club president, to keep the winger. “He’s quick and he hits the ball like a cannon. It cannot be learned, it is innate. The rest, we can teach him, “said the Argentine striker, according to comments reported by his biographer Alfredo Relaño.

Gento’s mammoth record had made him the number one most successful player in Real Madrid history, with 23 titles. It took nearly half a century for him to be joined there last Sunday by Brazilian side Marcelo, after Madrid’s victory in the Spanish Super Cup in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

Paco Gento was also international with Spain 43 times (5 goals), playing in two World Cups (1962 and 1966). In 2016, he was appointed honorary president of Real to succeed Di Stefano, who died in 2014.

His nephews Paco Llorente and Julio Llorente in turn wore the Real jersey in the 1980s. Then his great-nephew Marcos Llorente cut his teeth at the Real academy, playing two seasons in the first team (2017-2019 ) before joining Atlético Madrid.

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