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Alcantara
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PAULINO ALCÁNTARA


Seasons at the club: 1912-27
Games played: 357
Goals Scored: 357

Paulino Alcántara is considered one of Barca’s legendary players because of his goal scoring exploits. He lacked the build of a stereotypical athlete, but he possessed the killer instincts of a matador. This offensive machine knew where the goal was and often made sure that the ball was in it.

Alcántara was born in Iloilo, Philippines, in 1896 to a Spanish father, who was in the Spanish Army that was stationed in the province. He was a mestizo, born to a Spanish father and an Ilonggo mother. In 1910, he traveled to Barcelona to continue his education. Alcántara grew up in Barcelona and initially played for FC Galeno before he was spotted by Joan Gamper and signed up for FC Barcelona. He made his senior debut at the age of 15 years, 4 months and 18 days on February 25 1912 against Catalá SC in the Championat de Catalunya. FC Barcelona won 9-0, and Alcántara scored the first three goals of the game. Among his team mates during his first spell at the club were Francisco Bru, Jack Greenwell and Romà Forns. He went on to help the club win the Copa Del Rey and Championat de Catalunya double in 1913 and a 'Championat de Catalunya' in 1916. Back then, Copa Del Rey represented the championship of Spain.



In 1916, Alcántara’s parents decide to return to the Philippines and took their son with them. There, he continued his studies in medicine and played football for Bohemians of Manila. He was also selected to play for the Philippines national football team in 1917 and represented the country at the Far Eastern Championship Games in Tokyo, helping them defeat Japan national football team 15-2. At the same games he also represented the Philippines at table tennis. Meanwhile, FC Barcelona had failed to win a major trophy in his absence and the club pleaded in vain with his parents to allow him to return to Spain. However, he contracted malaria in 1917, and apparently refused to take the prescribed medication until he was allowed to go back.



After returning to Spain and FC Barcelona, his former team mate and now coach, Jack Greenwell experimented with Alcántara as a defender. His decision was short-lived. Barca’s club membership,"Los Socios," demanded that Alcantara be switched back to his normal position. The paying members received their wish. Alcantara went back to scoring goals on a usual basis and, in 1919, he helped the club win another Championat de Catalunya. The club also reached the Copa Del Rey final but lost 5-2 to Arenas Club de Getxo.



In 1920 the club won another Copa Del Rey and Championat de Catalunya double with Alcántara scoring in the 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa final. The FC Barcelona team now included Sagibarbá, who formed a notable partnership with Alcántara,  as well as Ricardo Zamora, Josep Samitier and Félix Sesúmaga. This marked the beginning of the club’s first golden era and saw them dominating both the Championat de Catalunya and Copa Del Rey. Alcántara scored twice in the 1922 Copa final where FC Barcelona beat Real Unión 5-1 and scored the winner in the 3-2 win over Atlético Madrid in the 1926 final.

In 1915 Alcántara made his debut with the Catalonia national football team. Between then and 1924 he played at least 6 games and scored at least 4 goals for the Catalan XI. However records from the era do not always include accurate statistics and he may have played and scored more. As well as playing for the Catalan XI and the Philippines national football team, he also played for the Spanish national football team.



In 1920, Alcántara, along with Ricardo Zamora, Josep Samitier, and Félix Sesúmaga, was selected to represent Spain at the 1920 Summer Olympic Games. However, Alcántara chose to stay at home to take his final medical exams. He eventually made his debut for Spain on October 7 1921 at the age of 25 against Belgium and scored both goals in a 2-0 win. He subsequently made 5 appearances and scored 6 goals for Spain between 1921 and 1923. Alcantara is on record as being the first player from Barcelona born outside of Europe to represent Spain in international football competition. His ability to hit the most powerful of shots crossed frontiers on the 30th April 1922 when, in a game between Spain and France, he hit a shot so hard that it ripped right through the net. For many years after, children from Barcelona would recall that moment and would wish to do the same as the man from the Philipines.



He officially retired on July 5, 1927. The Spanish National Team and Barcelona played a "testimonial" that day, a game in honor of Alcantara. At age 31, he felt it was time to dedicate his life to his profession. However, this was not his goodbye to football. He was on the board of directors between 1931 and 1934 and Alcántara was one of the first footballers to write memoirs of his playing days.

But it was not a definite goodbye to football as a whole. He briefly served on the coaching staff of Spain’s National Team in the 50s – three matches against Switzerland, Belgium and Sweden. He won one game and tied the other two.



Paulino Alcantara died in Barcelona on February 13, 1964. With his goal scoring titles, he also won five Spanish Cup championships and 10 Catalonia championships.

Alcantara is not only one of Spanish football’s most revered legends, but a revered legend in the sport of football as a whole. He represents not only Spain, but the Philippines also. He represents success not only in Catalonia, but also in Iloilo.

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