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Javier Urruticoechea

Francisco Javier González Urruticoechea, known as Javier Urruti or Urruti, was born in San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain on November 17, 1952. Urruti was a Spanish/Basque footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Real Sociedad, RCD Español, FC Barcelona, Spain and the Euskadi XI. In 1981, he was declared Spanish Footballer of the Year by Don Balón and in won the Zamora Trophy as the best goalkeeper in La Liga in 1984.

During his time at FC Barcelona he became a favorite of both the fans and his fellow players. He became a legend at a club well known for goalkeepers like Ricardo Zamora, Franz Platko, Velasco and Ramallets. He also played for the club in the 1986 European Cup final. However before the final, the club had already secured the services of another Basque goalkeeper, Andoni Zubizarreta, signaling the end of his career after 230 caps.

Urruti played as a junior with Lengokoak before joining San Sebastián CF, the reserve team of Real Sociedad in 1969. He made his debut with the senior team in 1973. In 1977, he joined RCD Español where he would later go on to win the Don Balón award, (Spanish Footballer of the Year).

After four seasons with RCD Español, he moved across Barcelona to join FC Barcelona. Along with Steve Archibald and Bernd Schuster, Urruti was a prominent member of the FC Barcelona team, coached by Terry Venables, that won La Liga in 1984/85 season and then reached the final of the European Cup in 1986. In 1983-1984 season, Urruti won the Zamora Trophy after allowing 26 goals in 34 league games.His extraordinary reflexes and extrovert character made him a favorite with the Barcelona faithful who will always remember that special penalty save that gave Barca their tenth league title.

On March 25th, 1985, in a game against Real Valladolid, Sanchez Arminio awarded a penalty for Valladolid in the 87th minute. Urruti’s penalty save against Mágico González effectively clinched the La Liga title for FC Barcelona. Joaquim Maria Puyal, a very popular radio speaker in Catalunya (radio journalist), was screaming "Urruti, t'estimo!!" (Urruti, I love you) after that penalty save. The penalty stop created a euphoria that exploded into the streets of Barcelona where millions celebrated Barcelona’s first Liga title in 11 years.

During the second-leg of the European Cup semi-final against IFK Göteborg, Urruti successfully protested to the referee about a conceded goal after he spotted the ball had went out of play. FC Barcelona were trailing 3-0 from the first-leg at the time and the decision kept them in the game. They eventually drew level and in the subsequent penalty shoot-out, Urruti saved a crucial penalty and then scored one. The final against Steaua Bucureşti, however was a major disappointment for FC Barcelona. Neither side produced a goal after 120 minutes and although another penalty shoot-out saw Urruti save two penalties, his opposite number, Helmuth Duckadam, saved four winning the cup for Steaua in the process.

International Career

Urruti played five times for Spain between 1978 and 1980 and was a member of the Spanish squads for the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups. He was also a member of the squad during the Euro 1980. However he was never able to get the nod over fellow Basques Luis Arconada or Andoni Zubizarreta as the team's first choice goalkeeper and he never actually played in any of the above competitions. Urruti also played twice for the Euskadi XI in 1979 and 1980.

On March 29th, 1978, he made his international debut for Spain in a 3-0 win over Norway in Gijón , Spain. His final appearance for Spain was on May 21st, 1980, was in a 2-2 draw against Denmark in Copenhagen.

Retirement and Death

He retired as a player in 1988 and subsequently worked as a goalkeeping coach at FC Barcelona. Urruti lived in the Barcelona area and was still involved in coaching goalkeepers in the club's youth teams. He also wrote some columns for El Mundo Periodico,, during Euro 2000.

Sadly, on May 24th, 2001, Urruti, at the age of 48, died after his car hit the central barrier of a ring road near Barcelona.

"He was one of the most influential keepers in the history of the club," said Barcelona legend and former teammate Carles Rexach after hearing the tragic news. Apart from his skill as a keeper, he possessed the perfect temperament to play football in a big team. He never seemed to be affected by the pressure, was always in a good mood and was able to maintain his technique in the most testing conditions."

An annual golf tournament, the Trofero Javier Urruti is played in his honor.

Honors with FC Barcelona:

Zamora Trophy: 1;1983-84
Spanish Champions: 1;1984-85
Copa del Rey: 2 ;1982-83, 1987-88
European Cup Winners Cup: 1; 1982
Supercopa de España: 1 ;1982
Copa de la Liga:2 ;1983, 1986