O.G. – Original Goleador

9 12 2009

When we think of sports heroes from the Philippines, the first to come to mind is of course Manny Pacquiao. A couple other notable sports figures to also come from the PI were Efren Reyes, a nasty pool player (ESPN used to show this dude get busy on the table). And a famous little toy turned competitive sport, The Pedro Yo-Yo. Named after the ingenious inventor, Pedro Flores.

photo from wikipedia.com

But long before these Filipino icons jumped onto the world stage, there was a deceptive little footballer (soccer player) that made a huge mark on the Spanish Primera Futbol League (La Liga). His name was Paulino Alcantara. Hailing from Iloilo City, Philippines, Alcantara was the first ever Filipino and Asian to play for a European club.

Alcantara played for the world famous Spanish powerhouse, FC Barcelona. He quickly made a name for himself by kicking the ball so hard during a shot on goal, that the ball ripped through the net. Barca fans, especially the kids, wanted nothing more to kick and play like the Filipino. Dubbing him “El Rompe Redes”, the net breaker.

Great Skill

Usually we don’t correlate football with the Philippines or vice versa, but considering the achievements of Alcantara one could begin to make that connection. While at FC Barcelona, Alcantara became the club’s All-Time leading scorer with 357 goals in 357 games. He played for both the Philippines and Spain during his international career. And made his debut in the Spanish Primera at the age of 15.

Alcantara retired from the beautiful game at 31 to become a doctor, go figure…

Bad Ass!

Filipinos may recognize the name, but I’m willing to gauge that less than 50% of the Barca faithful know that he is a legend, let alone know that he’s Filipino.

Manny Pacquiao is definitely stamping his fist on the face of world sports, but without legends like Alcantara who paved the way, many athletes from smaller nations may not have ever been given the opportunity to display their athleticism. Now scouts from all sports from all over the world are seeking talent in hard to reach places.

O.G. - Original Goaleador

I don’t consider myself a rabid fan of FC Barcelona, but I am a fan for sure. Here in the states, the coverage of Spanish and other European football is limited to a few networks so its tough to follow results and everyday happenings. Hopefully coverage will increase, I would hate to miss the emergence of another great footballer from an unsuspecting region of the world. Go Barca!

-MR

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulino_Alc%C3%A1ntara

http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/club/historia/jugadors_de_llegenda/alcantara.html

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/president/news/newsid=654697.html

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