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Kubala, the path to glory of Barcelona's most loved legend: A story of overcoming, adventures, crazy nights, majestic matches and of a good man who made everybody around him happy.

Nothing in Kubala's life was normal. Now that TV series about sportsmen are fashionable, the one that could be made about the adventures of Ladislao Kubala Stecz (Budapest, 1927) would raze through many seasons. In one season we could go deeper into his facet of legendary footballer, capable of changing the way of playing this sport, how he saved his life at the very last moment by not getting on the Torino plane that crashed in Superga, or how he was ten minutes away from signing for Real Madrid or enrolling in the Pirate League of Colombia, all of this in order to end being Barcelona's biggest icon... who ended playing for Espanyol.
We could add a season of adventures due to his incredible escape from communist Hungary. His journey through Italy with a football team, the Hungaria, of stateless people in which in addition to Hungarians also played Croats, Albanians, Romanians and Serbs who were looking for a life as good as they could get. One could also add to this the facet of the social phenomenon that dazzled a country during the dark years of Franco's regime by becoming a pop star, and end up with another season about the legends, real, invented or simply exaggerated, of his adventures in Barcelona's nightclubs.
Everything about Kubala is like a movie.

The legend of the escape.

Born in Budapest to a Hungarian man and a Slovakian woman, he always considered himself as both Hungarian and Slovakian, even when this republic was part of the now extinct Czechoslovakia. By the age of 20, Kubala was a football star known for his performances with Slovan Bratislava and Vasas Budapest. In fact, he had already been capped by Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Later, he would go on to play for Spain, and is still the only player to have been capped by three countries. But fed up with the system that was preventing him from developing his professional football career, he embarked on an escape proper of a movie to the West. He contacted a human trafficking organisation, a mafia that, in exchange for a large amount of money, facilitated a partial escape. As is now the case with criminals who gamble with the lives of people who want to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe or pass to the United States through the southern border, the smugglers did not secure anything. The last part of the journey depended on the luck and expertise of the escapees and often ended tragically.
"I remember that when I escaped from Hungary I was just a kid. The traffickers left us in the middle of a mountain to do the last stretch on foot. We were a large group. The adults gathered the children and gave us palinka. A liquor similar to brandy to get us drunk and fall asleep. A child's cry could alert the border guards patrolling the mountain. And they had orders to shoot to kill. The group split in two. My group was lucky and we were able to win the Austrian border. Once we were safe, we learned that the other group that had travelled with us and took another road was discovered and killed." The chilling story is that of Zoltan Czibor, the son of the former Barça player who tells how he had to flee Hungary with his family to join his father in Italy. The odyssey of Kubala, six years earlier, was mirrored.
The traffickers disguised Kubala as a Russian soldier and put him in a truck that would leave the escapees at an undetermined point in the mountains so that they could cross the border into Austria on their own. Kubala remembered that this journey scared him to death because unlike his comrades, he was a national celebrity and any soldier who checked the military truck would recognize him. He was endangering his life and the lives of those who accompanied him.
When they were left in the mountain on January 27, 1949, Kubala walked, and crossing a river helped by a tire that carried him, managed to reach Innsbuck, Austria, without any documentation. He was a stateless man starting from scratch.
In Austria he managed to sign with Pro Patria, a team from Milan, but he could only play friendly matches. His escape provoked the anger of the Hungarian regime, which denounced him and blocked his registration. Kubala had married Anna Daucik two years earlier, sister of Fernando Daucik, a veteran player of the era who would later become a famous coach. When Kubala fled, he left behind his family, whom he was unable to reunite with until six months later, when Anna was able to cross the border and meet Ladislao in Udine. He arrived with one more member of the family. A baby, her firstborn, whom Kubala did not yet know.
While he is irregularly enrolled in the Pro Patria, he gets the chance to sign with Torino, Italy's dominant team at the time. He is offered a trial match. Nothing better than a friendly match that Il Grande Torino had in Lisbon as a tribute to Xico Ferreira. However, when the Turin team's plane is about to take off, the president of Torino prevents Kubala from boarding because he fears a federal sanction. On the return flight, on 4 May 1949, the Fiat G 212 of Avio Linee Italiana crashed into the retaining wall of the Basilica of Superga due to the wind, poor visibility and an error in the altimeter of the aircraft. At 180 kilometres per hour and with a visibility of 40 metres, the pilot saw the stone wall of the basilica too late when he thought the plane was at 2,000 metres and was actually at 690 metres above sea level. The 31 people who were travelling in that aircraft died. Kubala had saved his life again.

The legend of Hungaria.

With no possibility of playing in Italy because the back then very powerful Italian Communist Party was pressing to prevent people fleeing from countries in the orbit of the USSR from taking refuge in Italy, Kubala had no choice but to form a team of stateless people who hired their services throughout Europe to play friendly matches against whoever hired them.
The team was called Hungaria, was managed by his brother-in-law Fernando Daucik and was mainly made up of Hungarians, although there were also players of other nationalities. It was made up of: Kis, Marik, Torok, Mogoy, Lami, Rákosi, Hrotko, Majteny, Nagy, Kubala, Otto, Licker, Turbeky, Monsider (Croatian), De Lorenzi (Albanian), Szegedi (Romanian) and Arangelovic (Serbian).
They played their first match against Italy's B team, but again pressure from the PCI forced them to play outside Italy. And that is how they arrived in Spain, hired by Santiago Bernabéu. On June 5, 1950, they faced Real Madrid in Chamartin, losing 4-2, but with a stellar performance by Kubala, who scored both of his team's goals. Three days later, they beat the Spanish team that was preparing for the World Cup in Brazil, where they came in fourth, 1-2 again with a great performance by Kubala, who received an offer from Real Madrid to be signed.
Kubala requires that to join the team, Madrid must also hire Daucik as a coach, something that Bernabéu does not agree to. The Madrid coach at that time was the Briton Keeping, a great connoisseur of WM tactics. Daucik is offered to train the Plus Ultra, a Madrid branch that plays in the third division. That negative and the federative problems that drags Kubala cause that Madrid becomes disinterested in his transfer, that was already agreed lacking of some fringes that turned out to be determinant.
The Hungaria moves two days later to Barcelona, where on June 10 plays against Espanyol losing 6-4 in a match with Pepe Samitier, the technical secretary of Barça, in the stands. It is necessary to emphasize that Hungaria had been playing three matches in five days with a very short team and without being able to make substitutions. Even so, Kubala amazes and Samitier does not mess around. Six days after that match, on 16 June 1950, at half past six in the evening, Kubala signed his three-year contract with Barça at the Pasaje Méndez Vigo. Obviously, with Fernando Daucik as coach. President Montal, Sr., signed him as an "amateur player" in order to avoid any trouble for the federation.
Real Madrid rages and is shocked. Pablo Hernández, general secretary of the white entity and Santiago Bernabéu's right hand, assures that Barça had broken a non-aggression pact between both teams and had hired a player with whom they were in talks. Samitier, who was unbeatable in the media, declares that he had been following Kubala for months and that the pact had not been broken because it referred only to players who played in Spanish teams. And Hungaria was not Spanish. In fact, it wasn't from anywhere.
But Kubala's problems didn't end there. He still didn't have a registration card or an international certificate. Vasas in Budapest and the Hungarian Federation had reported him to FIFA. Barça used the weak argument that since professionalism had been abolished in Hungary, any amateur player could choose his destiny. But the fight was not going to be so easy.
Barça, it is fair to say, had the total support of the regime and the Federation to carry out the transfer. At the level of anti-communist propaganda, Kubala was perfect. A young and extraordinary sportsman who fled from the red hell to take refuge in Franco's Spain was a candy too sweet to let go. Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation, rowed in favor of Barça as did Ricardo Cabot, secretary of the organization, who, in addition to his affection for the regime, was a well-known Barcelona supporter.
But the procedures were very slow and Kubala could only play friendly matches. He made his debut against Osasuna on 12 October, scoring two goals on the day the Barça fans knew instantly that they had just signed a star. Then he played against Zaragoza, Frankfurt twice, Girona and the Badalona. In six friendlies he scored 11 goals. The fans and the player himself were eager to meet in an official match. For all this, the Federation to play the role with FIFA fined Barça every time he lined up Kubala with the symbolic figure of 50 pesetas.
It is at this time that Kubala is about to leave everything and go away from Barça. He needed the money and wanted to play at the highest level and in Colombia he was offered the chance to do so. The South American country had organised the so-called Pirate League outside FIFA and many of the world's biggest stars joined, including Alfredo Di Stefano who went to Millonarios in Bogota. Kubala had a tempting offer from Atletico Bucaramanga. With the option of Kubala leaving, events accelerated. To begin with, Barça fixed his financial situation by means of a peculiar amateur contract in which they paid him 1,200 pesetas for "compensation" and 3,800 for "encouragement and overfeeding".
On April 2, 1951, he was granted the status of political refugee as a stateless person, which was a step towards granting him Spanish nationality. But for this step, Kubala first had to be converted to Catholicism through the sacrament of baptism. Every Spaniard had to be a Catholic. Kubala was baptized in Aguilas, Murcia, the birthplace of Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation. It is then when Barça, to avoid problems, settles its differences economically with Vasas, which despite being against capitalism accepts a payment of 300,000 pesetas to provide the transfer, while the Pro Patria, which also complained, is satisfied with 12 million lire.
The Kubala era could now really commence.

The legend on the field.

Kubala made his official debut with Barcelona in Sevilla in a cup match. The Sevillistas at that time were one of the best teams. Sevilla and Barça had developed in that period a great rivalry in the high places of the table. In 1946 Sevilla had stolen the possibility of winning the championship from Barça by drawing in Les Corts on the last day, in 1948 Barça beat the Sevillians in the final of the Eva Perón Cup (which would be the current Supercup) and in that campaign a Barça without Kubala had lost all its options to win La Liga after losing 4-0 in Nervión three days before the end of the season.
The Cup, by that time was played once the regular season was over and in those circumstances the official debut of Kubala took place. On April 29th in Nervion, Barça arrived to play against Sevilla in the middle of a difficult atmosphere. The Andalusians had lost the league in a dramatic outcome when they drew at home in the last match against Atletico Madrid with a refereeing performance that the locals judged scandalous. For further concern, the Federation allowed Kubala to line up with Barça in the first round of the Cup, which in Sevilla was taken as a surprise.
With the stadium full to the flag, Barcelona defeated Sevilla in an exhibition of Kubala. He wasn't just the best of the match but he showed Spain a way of playing football unthinkable until that time: chest controls, shots with curve, millimetric changes of play of 40 meters, protection of the ball with his back, use of the body in the shot and touches with the heel.
Domenech, Sevilla's attacker who was the direct protagonist of that match, explained years later how he remembered that day.
"It was something never seen before. Ramallets kicked it and he would receive her with his chest, or with either of his legs. If you tackled him he would dribble you in a brick. He'd put the ball where he wanted her. Besides, from time to time he changed with César, he'd be a center forward and César would be a midfielder. They drove us crazy. The anger of the people became clamours. We were witnessing something extraordinary. It was like going from black and white cinema to colour," explained the former Sevilla player. The Sevilla crowd, who had welcomed Barça and its new superstar with anger, ended up giving Kubala a standing ovation for every action as if they were watching a glorious bullfighting performance.
Kubala's actions on the field change football forever. Since there was no television, his exploits are reported orally. There is no other way to see it than to go to the field of Les Corts, which is packed for every game Barça plays as a local. It is a very common argument to say that Kubala forced Barça to build the Camp Nou because the old Les Corts was not enough to accommodate all the people who wanted to admire him. Maybe he had an influence, but as the journalist Frederic Porta, author of an interesting biography of Kubala (Kubala, l'heroi que va canviar la història del Barça. Ed. Saldonar) explains, "the truth is that Barça had already bought the land to build the Camp Nou two years before and the idea of making a bigger field already existed, but Kubala advanced everything and justified the change".
Blessed with brutal technique, a sensational strike of the ball and an unusual physical strength, Kubala changed football. He would throw free-kicks over the wall with curve or by making the ball bounce in front of the goalkeeper, he would take penalties (he was practically infallible) with what was later called paradinha and was credited with the Brazilians although he was the first in Europe to do so. Physically he was a bull. In his youth he had practiced boxing and if he didn't become a recognized fighter with a great career it was because he had short arms. His lower body was sensational. He had a butt and legs that allowed him to protect the ball like no one else. Frederic Porta says that "in his time of splendour they measured his thighs and each one had a circumference of 69 centimetres, which would be the waist of one of his companions". He was also capable of running the 100 metres in less than 11 seconds. A total athlete with a very refined technique.
However, that physical strength and the confidence he had in her, for he never avoided a collision, were his downfall. Kubala became the target of a hunt by rival defenders. He never went into hiding and that's why in eleven years at Barcelona he suffered up to eleven injuries of some seriousness. With matches without television, the harshness that bordered on violence was the order of the day. He was being kicked to death.
But Barça was living its most golden period to date. Moreover, the club revolved around Kubala. Frederic Porta compares it with the present time: "Now they say that Messi commands the club and surely he commands, but nothing to do with the influence that Kubala had. Kubala was the boss and even the one who decided the transfers. And no one was surprised. That Barça adopted the socks with the horizontal stripes blaugrana is his imposition. He saw them on the rugby team, liked them and incorporated them into the football team by decree. In fact, it is he who insists on signing Luis Suarez when he impresses him in a match against Deportivo. Kubala was Suarez's first fan, but what happened in the stands, which was divided between Suaristas and Kubalistas, is another matter.
Suarez was eight years younger than Kubala. He arrived at Barcelona at the age of 19, Kubala was 27 and his physique was very punished by his injuries and the life he was living, as he did not deprive himself of anything. If he held out, it was because of privileged genetics.
Therefore, there never was a real competition between them, but there was a lot of influence here from the figure of Helenio Herrera, the Barça manager, who saw Kubala as older and slower and was looking forward to a quick change by the young Galician as the leader of the team. The debate reached the stands and the media. It was an absurd debate, because they didn't play in the same position, with whom Kubala really had a certain rivalry with Eulogio Martínez, who was the one with whom he alternated the position.
Kubala's physical problems were not only due to injuries. He had the whole of Spain in suspense when he suffered a tuberculosis that could have cost him his life. There are apocryphal versions that explain that this tuberculosis was actually a stab wound he suffered in a fight in a cheap pub in the fifth district (Barcelona's Chinatown) and he has to retire to Montseny to recover. Nobody is betting on his return to the pitch if he survives a "hole in the lung the size of a silver bullet" according to the chronicles of the time. But once again, Kubala's ability to survive prevails. He returns to the pitches, but already heavily punished and slowed down.
It is against this backdrop that the 1961 European Cup final arrives, with Kubala arriving at the age of 34 with a herniated disc that barely allows him to walk, but he wants to play. He knows that the club is going through a critical situation despite having reached the final of the maximum trophy for the first time: the club is bankrupt because of the construction of the Camp Nou, the fights in the board of directors are chaotic, Luis Suarez has signed for Inter (the one in Bern will be his last game with Barça), which was where Helenio Herrera had left the team in the hands of Enrique Orizaola.
Kubala tells Orizaola to line him up, that like all the Portuguese will go for him and he can barely move because of the back pain and will play with painkillers, it will give more opportunities to his teammates. But the match is a pile of misfortunes for Barcelona. Ramallets scores an own goal, Barça shoots three times to the damn square posts of the goals (from then on they would change their shape) even Kubala kicked a ball that hit a post, went through the goal line until it hit the other post and came out repelled. Barça lost and Kubala's time at Barcelona came to an end.

The man of the year.

Kubala's significance goes beyond the playing field. According to a vote made for Radio Barcelona by journalist Joaquín Soler Serrano in the mid-50s, the Catalans most loved by their fellow citizens were Doctor Barraquer and Ladislao Kubala.
"He was literally the most famous person in the city, people really venerated him, and even Messi's influence cannot be compared to that of Kubala in those years," explains Porta.
His life off the field was notorious. An unrepentant night owl, it was common to see him in Barcelona's fashionable coffee shops and nightclubs. He was a man who stood out. Alfredo Relaño defines him in some of his articles as "a demigod. Tall, strong, blond with blue eyes and an overflowing personality. He aroused the admiration of men and women alike. An idol". Frederic Porta sums it up with the argument that "he would be the sum of Messi and Beckham and on top of that, he would go out every night".
Faced with Kubala's disorganised life, the Barcelona management decided to set up a private detective agency to follow him at night. The reports of the detectives are still in the Centre de Documentació del FC Barcelona and Frederic Porta published them in the history magazine 'Sàpiens'. In them, he gives a detailed account of the nocturnal wanderings of "Mr. K.", the code name of the Blaugrana star in an exercise in absurd discretion. There is also a letter from a Sabadell businessman in the club's archives, expressing concern that Kubala and Czibor had been "found in a Sabadell establishment after 2.30 in the morning accompanied by some of those ladies who were once gentlemen, I don't know if you understand". What the businessman doesn't explain in the letter is what he was doing in the same place.
Kubala's fondness for drinking was no secret. Helenio Herrera explains in a television interview that "one day at an airport in customs they asked Kubala if he had anything to declare and he said two bottles of whisky. The official asked him to show them to him and he, laughing, touched his belly and said: 'X-ray, I have them inside'. On another occasion, in the same situation, but carrying the bottle in the bag, he was told to leave it at the airport because no alcoholic drinks were allowed to be taken on board. Neither shy nor lazy, he drank it in front of the astonished official.
The legends about the occasions when the night was made longer and he did not arrive at training sessions or matches were recurrent. In that case, he called on the services of Angel Mur Sr., the team masseur who knew where to find him. He would start a pilgrimage through the usual places or floors until he found him, took him to the changing room, gave him a cold shower, a coffee with salt, a massage and played. The fans forgave him everything and were aware that their star was a man of joyful life. But he never failed on the field. Among the crowd at the time there were comments about the Kubala ritual in those games that followed a busy night. "He started off badly, and vaguely, but the signal was when, ten minutes into the game, he rolled up his sleeves as if to say 'I'm here, let's start, I've already cleared off', and the machine started to work.
You can't find anyone in the world who speaks ill of Kubala. Absolutely no one. Everyone highlights his huge heart and that despite being by far the highest paid player of the time (he earned six times more than his teammates) he didn't have a no for anyone. His detachment from money was legendary.
As proof, the anecdote explained by his biographer Porta: "one day he arrived at the dressing room and commented that his car had been stolen and that in the glove compartment he was carrying an envelope with 200,000 pesetas, which was a fortune for the time (a good apartment could cost 130,000 pesetas). When his colleagues tried to encourage him, he simply said: someone who needs it more than I do must have taken it".
It was also usual for him to take off his coat and give it to a poor man who begged in Barcelona's winter, or to take in any Hungarian who came to Barcelona asking for help in his house in Carrer Duquesa d'Orleans. Kubala, remembering his times as a stateless refugee without papers, asked nothing. He would take them home and pay them a boat ticket to America. The motto among the refugees fleeing the Iron Curtain was that "if you get to Barcelona, look for Kubala, he will help you". He never failed.
Later, now retired, he set up a bar next to Czibor in Capitan Arenas Street, the mythical Kep Duna (blue Danube in Hungarian) that became an unofficial refugee reception centre that was monitored by the secret services of the United States, the USSR and the Spanish police. Something like the Rick's Café in the film Casablanca, but in the upper area of Barcelona.
He was the great character of Barcelona loved by all, but there was a moment when this was almost broken, strange as it may seem. It coincided with the defeat in Bern, when a part of the press came to write that "Barça must be de-Kubalized as the Soviet Union must be de-Stalinized" and, especially, when he signed for Espanyol. The earthquake was a huge one.

From the bench to Sarrià.

After the defeat in Bern's final, Kubala announced his retirement from the fields. He had taken the coaching course and was ranked number one in his class. He made a pact with the president Llaudet, who was also an interesting character as we will see, that in principle he would take charge of the footballers' school of the club and that in a couple of years he would be in charge of the first team.
Meanwhile, Barcelona is directed by Lluís Miró who faces a team in disarray. Suarez has been transferred to Inter in the worst decision in the club's history and myths such as Ramallets, Tejada and Czibor were in the decline of their careers. The season starts badly and after losing at Mestalla to Valencia by a humiliating 6-2 that forces the resignation of Miro. It was time for Kubala, who was promoted to the first team in front of the joy of the fans. And the project results from the beginning. The Barça of the second part of season 61-62 recovers in La Liga and finishes second (the distance with the white ones when Kubala arrived was almost insurmountable) and avenges the 6-2 of Mestalla beating Valencia in the Camp Nou 4-0.
Facing the next season, the 62-63, Kubala can make his team by giving painful drops of some of his former teammates as it is the case of Eulogio Martinez or Evaristo. One of Llaudet's reluctances to give Kubala the job of coach was that he would have to manage some of his former teammates.
The positive expectations about Kubala's first full project were frustrated at first when the Blaugrana team had to play the final of the Copa de Ferias against Valencia, the team that caused the fall of Miró and the promotion of Kubala. And the history, by rare that it seems, repeats: Valencia returns to him to put 6-2 to the Barça. The fans explode against the team. In the return match, obviously, there is nothing to do, but Llaudet's ability to self-flagellation has no limits. As Alfredo Relaño writes, the Blaugrana president calls a dinner with the press the day before the game and makes this statement that if it happened today would open all the news.
Llaudet, in front of the press and accompanied by the coach Kubala and Gràcia as captain, asks the fans to forgive him and announces changes in the protocol of the start of the second leg. "Valencia will go out first to receive the applause, then Barcelona, to receive the whistles. Then Kubala will come out, so he can get the thunders. And finally me, so that all the whistles fall on my person, because I am the barcelonist who loves the club the most and who is destined to die on the pitch, if necessary...". He ends his speech crying. As we can see, Gaspart didn't invent anything.
The match ended in a draw and Kubala's project as Barça's coach was doomed. The manager is fired in the middle of the season and then a bomb explodes in Barcelona. Kubala accepts the offer to return to the pitch, but not as a coach, will be as a player and nothing more and nothing less than in Espanyol, Barça's eternal rival.
On 3 September 1963 Espanyol, then Español, announced that Kubala would be hired as a player. At 36 years of age, he was capable of being competitive.
His decision divides the public opinion. On the one hand, Federico Gallo and Juan José Castillo support his decision, on the other hand, Carlos Pardo or Ibáñez Escofet shoot at him. They call him a "Jew who sells himself for a plate of beans", a "traitor" and they see political interests in his decision.
Kubala explains that he wanted to continue playing and that he saw himself capable of doing so, although he accepted that he was not at Barcelona's level. He had received offers from important clubs, including River Plate and Juventus, but he doesn't want to leave Barcelona, where he feels like another Barcelonian. The Espanyol meets his expectations.
His start of the season is not bad, on the contrary, he scores in his first two games, but the team doesn't work out. The coexistence between the veteran newcomer Kubala and the team's symbol, Argilés, is not easy. Scopelli is dismissed as coach and de facto command of the team is given to the two team leaders despite their differences. The crisis erupts when the Spaniard visits the Camp Nou. The periquitos lose by 5-0 in a match in which the Barcelona crowd booed Kubala who they are eager to humiliate with his new team. Even so, at the end of the match, Kubala has a gesture to his former team that shows that he does not hold any grudge against what he has heard from the stands. At the end of the match, he organizes his teammates to make the corridor to Barça applauding the rival in recognition of the exhibition made. That gesture feels bad among the Espanyol fans and among some of his teammates. Argilés does not make the corridor and goes straight to the changing rooms.
The following year, Kubala becomes a manager-player and among the departures that he causes, there is the one of Argilés, but by contrast, Di Stéfano arrives, also hurt by his bad exit from Madrid fighting against Bernabéu.
Di Stefano and Kubala are like brothers. Even though they haven't officially played together, they have a special chemistry. A friendship that is forged when the Argentinian is about to sign for Barcelona.
When Di Stéfano arrives in Barcelona to sign for Español, he stays first at the Avenida Palace Hotel, but after a month he is living in Kubala's house as one of the family. The children of both always maintained a relationship as if they were brothers.
One of the players under Kubala's command was Jose Maria Rodilla, one of the players who would soon form the famous 'Dolphins' forward line. At 80 years of age, Rodilla remembers Kubala.
"I have a wonderful memory of Kubala, I always had a special affection for him. Not in vain, he was the one who signed me for Espanyol", he remembers when answering the call of this newspaper to which he confesses that* "normally I do not make declarations, but to speak about Kubala I do whatever is needed"*.
Rodilla, former teammate at Espanyol, has clear that "he was the best player in the world in terms of technique. Di Stéfano was the best footballer, but he didn't have his technique. Alfredo was more intense and more player of the whole field, but he could not do things that Kubala did"
Those who had the privilege of playing with both of them remember that "for example, Di Stefano wouldn't leave you alone for a minute, he was all over you and the fights were intense, but he always set an example, he never asked you for anything that he didn't do. Kubala was more paternalistic and tolerant. For example, he would ask us to do as he did in training, and while sitting down he would be able to make 3,000 touches on the ball without dropping it. Only he could do that."
Rodilla adds a story that explains Kubala's quality as a player-coach at the age of 38: "We went to play a friendly at Amposta and they called a foul on the edge of the box. Kubala takes the ball and whacks it into the corner. The referee made him repeat it because someone had moved or I don't know what. Kubala takes the ball and wham, back to the square. And the referee tells him that he has to repeat. That day Kubala got angry and left the field."
Rodilla recalls that Kubala's move from Barça to Espanyol created controversy in the city, but that he was oblivious to it. "He was still a magnificent person, I never heard him say a bad word against anyone. He never got into an argument, he was goodness personified, he was unlucky in his time as a coach, but as a coach he is one of the best I've ever had, with a great love for young players and always trying to help you improve."

Boys well, optimal morale.

He extended his playing career for a couple more years by playing for Zurich and even trying out the American adventure at the Toronto Falcons, where he coincides with Branko and Daucik's son. At the age of 40 he played 19 games and scored 5 goals.
In 1968 he returned to Spain and trained the Córdoba team for a short period of time until he was called up to the national team. Kubala will manage the Spanish team until 1980, when he signs for Barcelona again as a coach.
Kubala's debut with Spain was, once again, a propaganda match for the regime. It was played in the Estadio de la Línea de la Concepción against Finland and Spain beat their rivals 6-0 in a match that was no longer useful. Spain had missed out on qualifying for the Mexico '70 World Cup, but the idea of that game was to showcase a great field that could be seen from Gibraltar as if to give jealousy to those in the Rock for the sports culture of Spain. Dictatorship things.
It's true that at that time Spain was struggling more than anything else on the international scene. It did not qualify for the 1974 World Cup because of Katalinski's goal in the play-off match in Frankfurt, and in both the 1978 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship the team fell in the first round, but there is still no one from that era who will make a judgement against Kubala.
"Kubala, one ahead of his time. No doubt he had a lot to do with his past as a footballer. And not just like any other player, like the best! I remember him always saying to me: 'Ruben, you have to get out of the way on the other side of the ball. Look for the space, not the ball. The goal I scored in Yugoslavia has to do with everything he taught me," he told Fermin de la Calle in an interview with AS Ruben Cano, the hero of the famous 'Battle of Belgrade' in the match that took Spain to the World Cup in Argentina. Yes, the one with the goal by Cardeñosa that could have changed Kubala's record with the national team.
He did a lot to improve Spanish football and his idea regarding the incorporation of foreigners to improve the level of Spanish football was key in the future development of the Spanish competitive level.
His players remember him as a didactic person, tactically bold and very close. At a time when fury was the hallmark of the game, Kubala never forgot that he was the heir to the Magyar tradition of the Honved and the Hungary who, by moving the ball, shocked the world the day they destroyed England at Wembley 3-6.
For the average football fan, Kubala may have been a half-hearted coach who embodied an era of the national team in which nothing was won, as has been the case most of the time, and he became popular for his expressions that would now be meme material on social networks. The national team was known as the 'Kubala boys' and the coach's catchphrase before the matches saying "boys well, optimal morale" was the fashionable phrase in the coffee shops of the 70s in Spain.
But among his colleagues, Kubala still deserved reverential respect. "The first goal was authentically Latin, cunningly scored and perfectly studied. I can only congratulate Kubala on his previous tactical work," said German boss Helmut Schön after facing and losing to Spain in a friendly in which the recent world semi-finalist and next world champion fell to the Kubala boys at the Sanchez Pizjuan with two strategic goals from Arieta. Yes, Arieta against Müller. Seeler, Beckembauer, Maier, Netzer and company.
He left the national team in 1980 to join Barça as the coach of Núñez's second project in an operation that was the prelude to what would happen in the World Cup in Russia with Lopetegui. Kubala committed to Barça while he was coach and tried to alternate functions, but Porta refused. Finally, on 8 June 1980, four days before the start of the European Championship, Kubala signed for the Blaugrana team, which he would join after the European Championship.
His second spell at the head of Barça did not go well either and he was dismissed mid-season. He continued his adventure on the bench as coach of Saudi Arabia (in that he was also a pioneer), training Malaga and the Paraguayan national team before retiring from football on the bench of Elche.
He spent his final years in Barcelona as active as ever. Playing with Barça veterans, helping his teammates, not having a no for anyone and playing tennis every day or going for a run or cycling routes exhibiting an enviable physical condition.
Until the light of genius and the glory faded away 18 years ago. A degenerative brain disease put an end to the adventure, but not to the legend of a world football myth. An icon that changed the lives of so many people that they wouldn't fit even in a stadium.
The coffin with the mortal remains of Kubala was carried on shoulders, amidst the applause of the fans who gathered at the doors of the church of Santa Tecla, by Alfredo Di Stéfano, Gustau Biosca, Eduardo Manchón, Estanislao Basora, Joan Segarra, Josep Bartomeu, Luis Suárez, Antoni Ramallets and Gonzalvo III.
He rests in the cemetery of Les Corts, next to the Camp Nou because that is what he left written in his will, while Serrat sang to him about how...
...Pelé was Pelé and Maradona was the one and that's it. Di Stéfano was a pit of mischief. Honour and glory to those who made the sun shine on our football. Everyone has his merits; to each his own, but for me none is like Kubala. Respectable silence is requested, for those who haven't enjoyed him, I'll say four things: he stops it with his head, he drops it on with his chest, he sleeps it off with his left, crosses the pitch with the ball attached to the boot, leaves the midfield and enters the box showing the ball, hides it with his body, pushes with his ass and gets in with his heels. He pisses on the centerback with a dedicated piece. and touches her gently to put her on the path to glory.

by Santi Gimenez for AS.com (2020)

submitted by HippoBigga to Barca [link] [comments]

Tinaja Girl

Hi everyone! This is another unsolved case from Spain. This one in particular has been ranked by various Spanish crime and mystery polls as one of the most intriguing cases of our country.
This is, as always, a long read. But I hope you can enjoy it. Here it goes;

"Luci 13-12-1962"



Madrid, Spain
Wednesday, August 13th, 1969


A 20-years old firefighter walked into an old abandoned farmstead colloquially referred to by locals as Casa de la Viuda (Widow's House), near the municipality of Hortaleza. He would later tell LE that he frequented that place on his spare time; the old house was spacious, and he liked to go there to exercise and keep himself in excellent shape -as his job required him to be. Since it had been abandoned, the farm was frequented by locals at night only, as at the time it was used as a lover's lane. However, the morning of that August 13 his routine would be shattered in the spookiest way possible.

There were lots of old tools, furniture and other agricultural paraphernalia there. Among these there were several large tinajas (a type of jar-like and big recipient typical of Mediterranean and North African cultures, often used to store water, oil, or grain). One of these was particularly big. That morning the firefighter, motivated by curiosity, decided to peek inside that big tinaja. And that's when he made the disturbing discovery.

There was a dead woman stuffed inside.

Knowing that the police would secure the area for preserving evidence, the firefighter exited the house avoiding touching anything. He got into his car and drove to the nearest police station, informing LE about the gruesome finding. A team of investigators drove to the scene.

The woman was naked. A black turtleneck sweater was wrapped tightly around her neck. Her blue jeans and her panties were later found down around her ankles. She was young, her age at the time estimated to be somewhere in her 20's. Her bleached hair was of a very pale shade of blonde which, along with her at the time fashionable late 1960's clothing and her silver shoes and purse, inspired a there present LE investigator to eloquently define her appearance as 'like a space doll'.

She stood 160 cm tall (or 5'3''). Slender complexion.

He face had been battered, but later on it would be ruled that the cause of dead had been mechanical asphyxiation. More specifically, her killer had squeezed her throat hard with one hand, as the finger-shaped bruises on her neck attested. She had numerous defensive wounds in the form of bruises. Death had taken place less than 48 hours earlier, and her body was barely entering into the first stages of decomposition. The swelling in her face wasn't due to the decaying process, but due to the blunt trauma-induced inflammation. This detail would make the identification process much harder than expected. There was some dry blood on her cheeks and her clothing, but no traces of blood were found on the tinaja nor around; she had been murdered somewhere else and then dropped there later.

The contents of her purse, as well as the pockets in her jeans, were examined. This didn't produce any evidence that would point at the woman's identity. A strange piece of evidence was found trapped between her clenched teeth though; a small golden medallion with the following inscription embedded on it;


LUCI 13-12-1962


Could her name be Lucía? And what was that date referring to? Obviously, it couldn't be her birth date, since the body belonged clearly to an adult woman. Investigators at the scene pondered that maybe it could be the name and birth date of her daughter. This clue was used in the investigation.

The soil at the abandoned house showed that her killer had dragged her all the way to the tinaja where she was found in. It also showed that a car had been there. Based on the tire's pattern and the approximate wheelbase of the vehicle, investigators concluded that the car used to take the woman to there was a Renault 4L, a very popular car back then in Spain. What is more; they could also find a dent on the metal frame of the property's narrow gate. It was likely caused by a car speeding through it. Although the gate was narrow, anyone who could drive a car could easily go through it slowly. However, it seemed that someone -likely the killer- had rushed through with their car, hitting the frame in their way out, and probably full of anxiety about being seen dropping a body there.

The investigators managed to retrieve samples of red colored car paint from the dent, which gave them more information about where to look. A red Renault 4L.

It seemed that the tinaja, which was made of clay, had created conditions on its interior that had slowed down the decaying process in spite of the summer temperatures -tinajas make a rather cool storage space by keeping the heat out. Because of that, LE investigators managed to produce an excellent fingerprint profile from the murdered woman. It took the team just twelve hours since sampling her fingerprints to find a match. Keep in mind this was back in 1969, before fingerprint registries were in electronic form; the team had to split into several groups to compare (visually) the fingerprints with the registries of different public agencies. Twelve hours was a really quick time for a fingerprint match back then.

The fingerprint match came with a strange surprise. It was found by the team that had been assigned to compare the sample with the fingerprints from the Registry of Foreign Passports.

According to the match, it belonged to Kerry Payne, an American citizen. Born on December 25th, 1944 in Venice, Italy. Her parents were Richard and Nuria. The additional information in the registry mentioned 'housewife' as her professional occupation.

With the new data about her identity, LE tried to contact her family and relatives to tell them the unfortunate news about her death, as well as to move forward with the murder investigation. However, things would just start to get weirder and bizarre.

Payne's parents could not be located. Neither the US embassy, nor the personnel from the nearby USAF base in Torrejón de Ardoz could find anything about her within their databases. However, a matchbox advertising for a nightclub in Raleigh, North Carolina, had been found in the crime scene near the tinaja inside of which the woman had been found. The presence of this item had made investigators to put a lot of faith in thinking that sooner or later a relative of Kerry Payne would be found. The matchbox set them to contact North Carolina's authorities, leading them into another frustrating turn as this move didn't produce any results; There were no matching records of any Kerry Payne fitting the woman's personal information.

It was almost like Kerry Payne, also known as Tinaja Girl and Space Doll, didn't exist. So who was that dead woman really then? Where did she come from? And of course... who killed her, and why?



Chameleon among Wolves



Having clear that the whole Kerry Payne ID was fake, the investigation had stalled. Without knowing the woman's ID, solving the crime was off question. They couldn't trace down her last movements, nor question her family nor acquaintances.

The investigators split once again in teams to look for other fingerprint matches, which took a bit longer time than the initial twelve hours before the first match. After a couple of days of arduous work the investigators managed to produce a second match -which turned out to be legit. Here's another surprising aspect of the discovery of this match; it came from the team looking for results on the public mental health internment records. And so they finally had a solid name.

She wasn't American, nor Italian. In fact, her origins weren't at all exotic; she was Spanish. Natividad Romero Rodríguez (commonly addressed as "Nati") was born in the small town of Siles, located at 130 km (80 mi) east of Jaén, in the middle of the semiarid, deep Manchegan countryside. Nati came to this world on July 15h, 1941, which means that she was 28 years-old when she was killed. Her mother and her brother positively identified the body by an old scar on her right forearm.
Picture of a young Nati
Nati had been problematic from a very young age; volatile, kleptomaniac and narcissistic. She also developed an addiction to alcohol and used drugs during her teenage years. Her working-class family could not manage to deal with her extremely difficult behavior. At the age of 16 she was committed to a mental institution in Jaén, for a total of seven years, after two suicide attempts. In the first one Nati had jumped from the window of a 4th floor. The second time she had tried slicing her wrists on the bathtub.
Nati, circa 1965 The investigators' inquires revealed that Nati escaped from the mental institution and moved to Madrid in 1964. She quickly adapted to the underworld and the night life of the big city; first as a pickpocket and confidence trickster, but soon as a prostitute too. She used the name "Tania" as her identity at the time. Fifty-something questioned people later (being shown Nati's pictures), the investigators found that she lived with a man named Juan between August of 1964 and some point of the fall of 1965. There isn't much information about Juan, except that he was a black man and had a large scar on his face. He apparently was a soldier, and was sent to serve at a navy base in Rota (some 480 km, or 300 mi, southwest of Madrid). Nati didn't follow him to Rota; instead, she remained in Madrid, surviving by making money 'out of the night'.

Sometimes known by the name of Tania, sometimes by the name of Luci... and yes, also known as Kerry. She also liked to change her hair color very often, sometimes up to three times a week. These questioned about Nati -including other prostitutes- stated that she often 'worked' at the bars and nightclubs near the USAF base in Torrejón de Ardoz (active from 1953 to 1992), targeting American soldiers looking to spend some of their money on local women. She seemed to have a preference for black American soldiers, as she was often seen with them. When she was not heading to a hotel room escorted by an African-American soldier, Nati catered to local patrons posing as an American woman. She was reportedly very good at feigning an American accent, and she had discovered she was better paid for her services because of that. As for her personal life, Nati claimed to be a lesbian that the only thing she wanted from men was their money, and many people recalled her being physical with women (paid or not). Nati had, however, a worrisome tendency to seek very young girls for her personal pleasure.

Her acquaintances also mentioned than Nati always looked 'off' or 'sleepy', like on drugs. Although when considering this point it's worth remembering that Nati was an alcoholic and frequent drug user, on top of suffering from serious mental illness. When she didn't look drugged Nati was seen either drinking, looking for patrons or just looking for a fight; she was a violent woman who made an extensive use of foul language and profanity.

As the whole story unraveled, the investigators bumped into a big 'a-ha' moment when they learned that Nati had married in 1966. The name of her husband?

Leonard Payne. American citizen. USAF Airman First Class, stationed at Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base.

And yes; he was African-American.
Nati and Leonard, around 1966

The marriage was blessed with two children later on. It was also blessed, more obscurely, with generous money transfers from the US. These transfers amounted an average of around $2,000 a month, which in 2020 is the equivalent to about $16,000, or some 14,000€. It's not clear what kind of family background Leonard had, but his monthly salary at USAF certainly wouldn't match such amounts of money. The origin and motive of these money transfers has never been clear. The couple had rented a very expensive flat to live in.
Nati, with one of the children she had with Leonard

In early 1968 Leonard, who has an avionics expert, was sent to Vietnam, leaving Nati alone in Madrid. At some point of that year Leonard went MIA in Vietnam, and soon presumed dead. Seems like not long after the news of Leonard's tragic demise were received the money stopped coming, and Nati's behavior became even more erratic and unpredictable. She was eventually arrested for drugging a teen girl and sexually abusing her, a crime for which she was sent to the Ventas Prison for Women. She spent eight months there.

During her time in prison she became an inmate most of the women there avoided; Nati was too volatile, too unpredictable (except for the fact that she'd resort to aggression sooner or later) and always trying to smuggle alcohol inside. In one occasion she and other two inmates ended up in the infirmary after a disastrous attempt to produce moonshine; their drink contained enough methanol to poison them. Nati and one of the two women survived. The other one died.

She was often getting into scuffles there, especially taking into account the nature of the crime she'd been sent there for. One night another inmate made fun of Nati's deceased African-American husband, using a pejorative racial slur. Nati reacted by walking up to that woman and smacking her with a heavy oil can so hard that the woman needed several stitches on her face.

After her release from prison in early 1969 Nati moved in with one of her friends -a former prostitute- and her boyfriend. It's not clear if this couple was taking care of Nati's children while she was in prison, or if the children were sent to the US to live with Leonard's family. Soon after Nati was kicked out of that residence, after she had been caught stealing from them; this friend's name was Lucía, and she was the owner of the golden medallion that would later be found between Neti's teeth. Apparently, Nati had found a job at a club, but she was fired soon after for being frequently caught drunk at work.

From this point up until her death six months later, Nati's movements become unclear. One night of late February a police patrol car found her lying unconscious and bloodied on the sidewalk at El Retiro Park. Someone had subjected her to a savage beating. The policemen drove Nati to a hospital and, after she received treatment, they tried to convince her to fill an assault report. However Nati -concussed and with her lips grotesquely swollen- refused to do so. She also claimed that she didn't know the person who had attacked her. The policemen didn't believe that, and suspected that she had been beaten up by a pimp or a patron.

According to other sex workers, Nati had spent the spring and summer of 1969 resuming her routine of trying to get black USAF soldiers to pay for her services. However, she had also expressed some concerns about her own safety, confiding to her friends that she felt 'followed'. She didn't seem to explain to them further about these feelings though.

Nati was seen alive for the last time at around 4:00 AM of August 12th, 1969. Whatever happened to her between that moment and the morning of the following day when the firefighter discovered her body was a complete mystery. By early 1970 the investigation had stalled and the case became cold. Ironically, it would take one particularly cold night about one year later to warm the case back into life...



Thugs and Knives



Madrid, Spain
Saturday, January 30th, 1971


7th Barbieri Street, early morning hours. The Piloto Bar was full of patrons, as it was habitual on weekend nights. Everyone was having a good time on that gelid winter night under the warm roof of the bar. Patrons drank, smoked cigarettes and chatted with their friends, probably about football. Others would bet rounds of beers among their friends over a game of table football. A barman in his 50's named Pedro Herraiz was the owner of the bar. That busy night the 32-years old waiter Álvaro Coque was working alongside with him, as well as another waiter, a kitchen porter and the cook.

It was a busy, but peaceful night until that guy and his friends walked into the bar.

His name was José Antonio Sánchez Gil, but everyone around knew him by the nickname 'Pepe el Guapo' ('Handsome Pepe'). His good looks and his success with women made his nickname self-explanatory. He was a tall, intimidating man who, along with his friends, regularly terrorized the neighborhood. The 29-years old Pepe was a ruthless pimp with many girls under his 'protection services'. He used that fearsome reputation to drink as much as he pleased at the local bars without paying a cent. Standing up to him would mean having Pepe and his friends doing a number to the bar, trashing the place and assaulting the staff.

Pepe ordered whiskey, as he always did. And he invited his friends to drink, as he always did. Everyone at the Piloto Bar knew that standing up to Pepe was a very bad idea. However, that night Pepe made a big mistake. It would be his last one. Apparently, Mr. Herraiz had stood behind the counter looking at Pepe as he drank, not hiding his animosity towards that thug. Then Pepe, probably feeling challenged, decided to cap the night off with the ultimate humiliation; he invited Herraiz to drink a glass of his best whiskey. A drink which, of course, Pepe had zero intentions to pay for.

The 'invitation' was met with a counter-offer from Herraiz; Pepe and his friends should leave the bar immediately and never come back. Herraiz had had enough, and that drink suggestion had been the straw that broke the camel's back. Pepe then grabbed an empty beer bottle from the counter and smashed it against Herraiz's forehead, dazzling him. Almost immediately Pepe jumped over the counter and started beating up Herraiz; his friends soon joined the beating, and the floored Herraiz was at the receiving end of a brutal barrage of kicks and stomps.

The Piloto's staff wasted no time; they all grabbed ham knives from the kitchen and rushed back out to help their boss. Pepe and his gang pulled out their switchblades and a violent knife fight ensued. It didn't seem that things would go well for the staff, as they were being outnumbered by the thugs. The cook suffered a severe stab wound in one of his buttocks. But the waiter Coque managed to catch Pepe off-guard (the criminal was distracted fighting someone else) and drove the long knife blade into his ribcage, slicing part of his heart. Pepe collapsed almost immediately.

Probably emboldened after seeing Pepe finally being at the wrong end of a knife blade, many of the patrons that night at the Piloto bar joined the fight too, siding with the staff. Pepe's gang was now overwhelmed with punches, beer bottles and even bar stools. Around this time several police officers reached the bar. All except for a couple of Pepe's friends managed to escape the beating and flee running down the street. These who couldn't had to be rescued by the police officers; the scuffle and the agitation were so intense that the officers had to use their batons to dissuade the patrons from continuing their attack on these thugs.

Herraiz, who had been badly beaten, was taken to hospital, and so was the cook because of his stab wound. Both men eventually made a full recovery. Pepe, on the other hand, was pronounced dead at hospital. His violent death surprised no one, and saddened no one either. In fact, locals joked around afterwards noticing the irony behind the fact that 'Handsome Pepe' had died, literally, from a broken heart. It seems that the man who put an end to his life, the waiter Álvaro Coque (a husband and a father of two kids who had no criminal record), faced minimal or no charges.

That night the police officers made some arrests. Obviously the thugs that didn't manage to escape were arrested, as well as the most aggressive patrons that had still some fight in them. But they also arrested a patron in particular, one who during the melee had been seen trying to not to get involved and leaving the scene discreetly.

His name was Gregorio Ávila Sotoca, more known locally as 'Goyo'. The reasons he had tried his best to avoid the fight had nothing to do with ethics or pacifism; Goyo was well known by Madrid's LE at the time. At 28, he was a mugger, thief, and a drug dealer. But he was known especially as a pimp. He had been the subject of a search and arrest warrant for the previous six months due to a string of robberies he was a suspect of, and had spent that time trying to keep a low profile to fly under LE's radar.
A picture of Gregorio Ávila Sotoca, alias 'Goyo'

Goyo was placed on a cell at the main police station -something he wasn't unfamiliar with. The police chief on command of Goyo's arrest that night was a man named Manuel Lista. Mr. Lista was a tall and big man who, in spite of his intimidating appearance, never used physical force against any detainee -back in the 1970's Spain police brutality was the norm rather than the exception, especially when the detainees were regular offenders like Goyo was. Instead, Lista preferred a slow and patient method of interrogation; without even raising his voice (looking almost fatherly, in fact) he would come up with the same questions over and over, staring into the offender's eyes. He would also question the detainees at early morning hours, waking them up several times a night.

That weekend Lista was reportedly trying to make Goyo confess to pimping women and robbery charges. However (according to him and his subordinates) something extremely unexpected happened.

Goyo finally broke down and said; "It's about that Tinaja Girl, right? Well, I killed her".

Why would Goyo supposedly admit that is not clear. Apparently, he blurted that out after Lista had asked him many times "to start talking", but no one at the station expected him to have anything to do with Nati. Goyo told them that the night of August 11th, 1969 he was very drunk and had met Nati at a café-bar. They drank some more there and then Goyo proposed Nati to go to his place, to which she refused. Then he drove her in his car -a red Renault 4L- to the abandoned house where Nati's dead body was later found. Goyo reportedly told Lista and his men that once there they 'couldn't reach and agreement and Nati started nagging and making fun of him'. This enraged Goyo, who described to Lista how he put both hands on Nati's throat and squeezed until she passed out. After that Goyo slapped her face, trying to wake her up, until he realized that Nati was dead. Finally, Goyo stripped her naked, took her money and her jewelry and hid her body inside the big tinaja.

Goyo also described how he was so full of anxiety when leaving that his car gazed the gate's frame, scratching the bodywork. By the morning he had stayed at one of his girl's apartment, and Goyo told her he was leaving later that day 'for a road trip'. He told her he was leaving to León (340 kilometers, or some 210 miles, northwest from Madrid) for a few days. However, Goyo moved into the apartment of another of the prostitutes he pimped. He later called the first girl and told her he was in León, although he hadn't left Madrid. He asked her if someone 'had asked about him lately'. Goyo returned from his 'trip' a few days after Nati's body was found.



An international affair?



With that unexpected confession Goyo thereby became the main suspect for the mysterious murder of Nati Romero, the Tinaja Girl.

When the word that Goyo had been arrested as a suspect for murder spread around, many girls mustered enough courage to speak up to LE about Goyo. It turned out that Goyo was a sadistic and violent pimp whose girls feared him enough to not to report even the most gruesome abuse. LE considered the girls' statements as very likely, as apparently they were quite consistent. In one particularly disturbing statement, Goyo had locked up one of the girls in his apartment and beat her up very badly. The girl managed to endure the beating, thinking that that would be all. But then Goyo had pulled out a pocketknife; this girl feared so much for her life that she jumped from the window (a 2nd floor) onto the street, and then hid under a car while a deranged Goyo screamed that he was going 'to rip her heart out' while looking for her. This girl had been found later that day by a police officer, who asked her who had attacked her. She insisted that a gang of teenage boys had jumped on her to take her money, never mentioning Goyo.

What is more; Goyo had a big collection of 'tools' at home (he called them 'his toys') that he would use to discipline the girls. According to the women who came forward after his arrest, Goyo would administer, in his own words, 'pain or pleasure, depending of what the girl in particular required'. The full nature of these tools is never specified, though. A total of 54 women had come forward to tell LE what kind of monster Goyo was.

Thanks to these reports, Lista and his team though they got a solid suspect in custody. It matched what they already knew about Goyo beforehand. He was often involved in street fights and had a reputation of being quick to pull out his knife when challenged or threatened. He was a very violent man, and the girls he extorted were absolutely terrified of him.

Goyo was brought to trial. And then, when everyone thought that he'd be facing a long time in prison for the murder of Nati Romero, the whole case fell apart.

First, Goyo denied ever having confessed killing Nati. He told the judge that he had been coerced into a confession and that he had been physically tortured.

This wouldn't have gone further if not for what the defense came up with. Goyo had stated many times (according to the questioning with Lista) that he had used both hands to strangle Nati. However, the forensic doctor that had performed the autopsy had noticed that it just couldn't have been that way; whoever strangled Nati did so using only his right hand; the killer had used his left hand to pin Nati's right arm to the ground, making her more defenseless. Also, whoever killed her had hands much bigger than Goyo's (who was an average sized man).

That wasn't all; Goyo said that after noticing that Nati had passed out he smacked her face several times trying to make her regain consciousness. But again, this didn't fit the forensic findings. Nati's facial injuries didn't suggest a few slaps in the face; they suggested a brutal beating, probably punched or knee'd several times in the face. Also, the facial injuries happened, in all likelihood, before being strangled, not after.

The scenario provided by the forensic doctor and his team didn't suggest a quick murder like the one described by Goyo's confession. Nati had put up a tremendous fight against her attacker, reason why the killer had to pin Nati's right arm to the ground. The high amount of defensive wounds found in her body supported this scenario. If she panicked when she was attacked, she certainly did not freeze in fear.

The confession is one of the darkest spots in this case. Manuel Lista was said to have never engaged in physical torture -which Goyo accused him of. However, his questioning methods could be considered psychological torture, at least nowadays. It's stated, though, that when Goyo was finally transferred from the station's cell to jail he had gone from 'dangerous hardened criminal' to a 'sobbing little boy' in the matter of a weekend.

Because of the lack of evidence and the forensic findings pointing at a different story, Goyo was declared non guilty of the murder of Natividad Romero. This didn't mean he walked free though; he was sentenced to five years in prison for his pending pimping and theft charges. Goyo's lawyer appealed to the Supreme Court about his sentence; the appeal was rejected.

Meanwhile, Nati's killer was still unidentified and likely at large. The Crime Brigade handed the case to the superintendent Antonio Viqueira. Viqueira (1916-1998) was a highly esteemed detective with an impressive resume; in 1958 he was behind the team that managed to catch the first official spree killers in Spain, José María Jarabo. He had also cracked several cult-related crime cases in the 1960's and 1970's, as well as apprehending a serial rapist who targeted prostitutes in the 1960's, using a clever strategy with the collaboration of the sex workers. Because of his brilliant career he was often invited for talks at Universities aimed at Crime Science students. Reportedly, he used to explain to these students that 'not only dead bodies talk; the objects found in the crime scene talk too'. And also that 'simplicity, along with logic, brings the truth to light'.

Viqueira put his method to work in the Tinaja Girl case. Following his own experience, he paid attention to the objects found at the crime scene. Let's remember a particularly unusual item found near the tinaja were Nati ended up in; the matchbox.

This matchbox was traced to a nightclub in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the United States. There was no way to buy it in Spanish territory, and locals would buy matches from Spanish companies. USAF airmen didn't frequent the abandoned house Nati was found at, making extremely unlikely that the matchbox had been there before Nati's murder. There were just two likely scenarios; a) Given her involvement with USAF African-American airmen -let's remember she had married one-, the matchbox belonged to Nati and b) it belonged to the killer.

The Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base became the target of Viqueira's attention. He believed that the killer had ties to there. More so because according to the girl whose flat Goyo had hidden at, one time she casually discussed the Tinaja Girl case with him (whose investigation was often making headlines then) and Goyo had expressed; 'I think the Yanks did it, but don't go around talking about it'.

In fact, Viqueira's inquires eventually led him to an USAF airman. He was known for patronizing prostitutes, was a physically large man... and he was also African-American. It seems that Viqueira managed to gather a significant amount of evidence against him, but the airman was never prosecuted. Some have speculated that neither American nor Spanish authorities wanted the case to move forward.

A few words about US-Spain relations at the time. In December of 1959 Dwight Eisenhower became the first American president to make an official visit to Spain -some ten years earlier Truman had expressed his hatred towards the Francoist Regime, vowing to never visit Spain for as long as Franco ruled the country. Spain wouldn't receive the visit of another US president until October of 1970, when Richard Nixon met with Francisco Franco and the Monarchy at the Moncloa Palace. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson had avoided visiting Spain while they were in office; both were vocal about their opposition to the Francoist dictatorship. US-Spain international relationship was not at its best during that time, and it started to improve slowly with Nixon. There had been recently another incident that had created a conflict between both countries, creating a sense of distrust among Spaniards towards Americans; the 1966 Palomares incident, whose social consequences had an impact even up to 1986, year in which a public referendum was held in Spain about remaining in NATO -Spain had joined in 1982, but not without a significant opposition from a good percentage of the Spanish people.

By early 1970's both countries had improved their diplomatic relationship significantly, a trend that would later continue with Gerald Ford (who visited Spain in May of 1975, six months before Franco's death). Because of this, some believed that the Tinaja Girl case couldn't move forward. However, this was not the first case Viqueira had to accuse an American citizen of a serious crime; in August of 1960 an American woman named Mildred A. H. had rushed her 22-month old daughter Marcella H. to the Torrenjón de Ardoz Hospital with severe head injuries. She said that the little girl had fallen from her bed. Unfortunately, Marcella succumbed to her injuries that night. An investigation led by Viqueira ended up proving that Marcella's injuries had been caused after she had sustained a beating at the hands of her own father, Allen W. H., USAF sergeant stationed at Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base. Both husband and wife were arrested for the murder of the little Marcella; Allen as the culprit and Mildred as accomplice. Allen W. H. faced a court martial and was sentenced to prison. He ended up at the Leavenworth Penitentiary, in Kansas, where his sentence included penal labor. Apparently, the day after he murdered his daughter Allen had showed up to work, and his coworkers didn't notice anything odd or amiss; he looked absolutely calm and collected.



Aftermath



Whatever the true reason may have been, the African-American airman was never arrested. It could have been because the evidence gathered by Viqueira was not enough to warrant an arrest, but there's not much information about this.

Gregorio 'Goyo' Ávila Sotoca has been the only person to ever face trial for the murder of Natividad 'Nati' Romero Rodríguez. Besides the African-American airman, no other suspect has come up in subsequent investigations.

Once all the forensic work was done, Nati was buried on August 25th, 1969 at her hometown of Siles. While her family was very saddened about her early dead, they said that they were not surprised; Nati had been a very difficult person since a very young age, and was a matter of time before she would end up dead. She lived very fast, and died very young.
Another picture of Nati

Goyo Ávila Sotoca passed away in September of 1998. He was 55-years old.

The case remained cold until it expired in August 13th, 1989 due to statute of limitations. The investigation was abandoned more than 30 years ago.





Some sources (Spanish)


https://criminalia.es/asesino/el-crimen-de-la-tinaja/
http://elojocritico.info/los-casos-del-comisario-antonio-viqueira-y-ii/
http://manuelcarballal.blogspot.com/2008/07/los-casos-del-comisario-viqueira.html
http://psicokillers.com/el-crimen-de-la-tinaja/
https://espaciodeindrianiblog2.blogspot.com/2016/09/el-crimen-de-la-tinaja.html
https://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/fin-de-semana/el-crimen-de-la-tinaja-1276230125.html
http://manoquemecelacuna.blogspot.com/2017/03/el-crimen-de-la-tinaja.html
submitted by HelloLurkerHere to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]

Kubala, the path to glory of Barcelona's most loved legend: A story of overcoming, adventures, crazy nights, majestic matches and of a good man who made everybody around him happy.

Nothing in Kubala's life was normal. Now that TV series about sportsmen are fashionable, the one that could be made about the adventures of Ladislao Kubala Stecz (Budapest, 1927) would raze through many seasons. In one season we could go deeper into his facet of legendary footballer, capable of changing the way of playing this sport, how he saved his life at the very last moment by not getting on the Torino plane that crashed in Superga, or how he was ten minutes away from signing for Real Madrid or enrolling in the Pirate League of Colombia, all of this in order to end being Barcelona's biggest icon... who ended playing for Espanyol.
We could add a season of adventures due to his incredible escape from communist Hungary. His journey through Italy with a football team, the Hungaria, of stateless people in which in addition to Hungarians also played Croats, Albanians, Romanians and Serbs who were looking for a life as good as they could get. One could also add to this the facet of the social phenomenon that dazzled a country during the dark years of Franco's regime by becoming a pop star, and end up with another season about the legends, real, invented or simply exaggerated, of his adventures in Barcelona's nightclubs.
Everything about Kubala is like a movie.

The legend of the escape.

Born in Budapest to a Hungarian man and a Slovakian woman, he always considered himself as both Hungarian and Slovakian, even when this republic was part of the now extinct Czechoslovakia. By the age of 20, Kubala was a football star known for his performances with Slovan Bratislava and Vasas Budapest. In fact, he had already been capped by Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Later, he would go on to play for Spain, and is still the only player to have been capped by three countries. But fed up with the system that was preventing him from developing his professional football career, he embarked on an escape proper of a movie to the West. He contacted a human trafficking organisation, a mafia that, in exchange for a large amount of money, facilitated a partial escape. As is now the case with criminals who gamble with the lives of people who want to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe or pass to the United States through the southern border, the smugglers did not secure anything. The last part of the journey depended on the luck and expertise of the escapees and often ended tragically.
"I remember that when I escaped from Hungary I was just a kid. The traffickers left us in the middle of a mountain to do the last stretch on foot. We were a large group. The adults gathered the children and gave us palinka. A liquor similar to brandy to get us drunk and fall asleep. A child's cry could alert the border guards patrolling the mountain. And they had orders to shoot to kill. The group split in two. My group was lucky and we were able to win the Austrian border. Once we were safe, we learned that the other group that had travelled with us and took another road was discovered and killed." The chilling story is that of Zoltan Czibor, the son of the former Barça player who tells how he had to flee Hungary with his family to join his father in Italy. The odyssey of Kubala, six years earlier, was mirrored.
The traffickers disguised Kubala as a Russian soldier and put him in a truck that would leave the escapees at an undetermined point in the mountains so that they could cross the border into Austria on their own. Kubala remembered that this journey scared him to death because unlike his comrades, he was a national celebrity and any soldier who checked the military truck would recognize him. He was endangering his life and the lives of those who accompanied him.
When they were left in the mountain on January 27, 1949, Kubala walked, and crossing a river helped by a tire that carried him, managed to reach Innsbuck, Austria, without any documentation. He was a stateless man starting from scratch.
In Austria he managed to sign with Pro Patria, a team from Milan, but he could only play friendly matches. His escape provoked the anger of the Hungarian regime, which denounced him and blocked his registration. Kubala had married Anna Daucik two years earlier, sister of Fernando Daucik, a veteran player of the era who would later become a famous coach. When Kubala fled, he left behind his family, whom he was unable to reunite with until six months later, when Anna was able to cross the border and meet Ladislao in Udine. He arrived with one more member of the family. A baby, her firstborn, whom Kubala did not yet know.
While he is irregularly enrolled in the Pro Patria, he gets the chance to sign with Torino, Italy's dominant team at the time. He is offered a trial match. Nothing better than a friendly match that Il Grande Torino had in Lisbon as a tribute to Xico Ferreira. However, when the Turin team's plane is about to take off, the president of Torino prevents Kubala from boarding because he fears a federal sanction. On the return flight, on 4 May 1949, the Fiat G 212 of Avio Linee Italiana crashed into the retaining wall of the Basilica of Superga due to the wind, poor visibility and an error in the altimeter of the aircraft. At 180 kilometres per hour and with a visibility of 40 metres, the pilot saw the stone wall of the basilica too late when he thought the plane was at 2,000 metres and was actually at 690 metres above sea level. The 31 people who were travelling in that aircraft died. Kubala had saved his life again.

The legend of Hungaria.

With no possibility of playing in Italy because the back then very powerful Italian Communist Party was pressing to prevent people fleeing from countries in the orbit of the USSR from taking refuge in Italy, Kubala had no choice but to form a team of stateless people who hired their services throughout Europe to play friendly matches against whoever hired them.
The team was called Hungaria, was managed by his brother-in-law Fernando Daucik and was mainly made up of Hungarians, although there were also players of other nationalities. It was made up of: Kis, Marik, Torok, Mogoy, Lami, Rákosi, Hrotko, Majteny, Nagy, Kubala, Otto, Licker, Turbeky, Monsider (Croatian), De Lorenzi (Albanian), Szegedi (Romanian) and Arangelovic (Serbian).
They played their first match against Italy's B team, but again pressure from the PCI forced them to play outside Italy. And that is how they arrived in Spain, hired by Santiago Bernabéu. On June 5, 1950, they faced Real Madrid in Chamartin, losing 4-2, but with a stellar performance by Kubala, who scored both of his team's goals. Three days later, they beat the Spanish team that was preparing for the World Cup in Brazil, where they came in fourth, 1-2 again with a great performance by Kubala, who received an offer from Real Madrid to be signed.
Kubala requires that to join the team, Madrid must also hire Daucik as a coach, something that Bernabéu does not agree to. The Madrid coach at that time was the Briton Keeping, a great connoisseur of WM tactics. Daucik is offered to train the Plus Ultra, a Madrid branch that plays in the third division. That negative and the federative problems that drags Kubala cause that Madrid becomes disinterested in his transfer, that was already agreed lacking of some fringes that turned out to be determinant.
The Hungaria moves two days later to Barcelona, where on June 10 plays against Espanyol losing 6-4 in a match with Pepe Samitier, the technical secretary of Barça, in the stands. It is necessary to emphasize that Hungaria had been playing three matches in five days with a very short team and without being able to make substitutions. Even so, Kubala amazes and Samitier does not mess around. Six days after that match, on 16 June 1950, at half past six in the evening, Kubala signed his three-year contract with Barça at the Pasaje Méndez Vigo. Obviously, with Fernando Daucik as coach. President Montal, Sr., signed him as an "amateur player" in order to avoid any trouble for the federation.
Real Madrid rages and is shocked. Pablo Hernández, general secretary of the white entity and Santiago Bernabéu's right hand, assures that Barça had broken a non-aggression pact between both teams and had hired a player with whom they were in talks. Samitier, who was unbeatable in the media, declares that he had been following Kubala for months and that the pact had not been broken because it referred only to players who played in Spanish teams. And Hungaria was not Spanish. In fact, it wasn't from anywhere.
But Kubala's problems didn't end there. He still didn't have a registration card or an international certificate. Vasas in Budapest and the Hungarian Federation had reported him to FIFA. Barça used the weak argument that since professionalism had been abolished in Hungary, any amateur player could choose his destiny. But the fight was not going to be so easy.
Barça, it is fair to say, had the total support of the regime and the Federation to carry out the transfer. At the level of anti-communist propaganda, Kubala was perfect. A young and extraordinary sportsman who fled from the red hell to take refuge in Franco's Spain was a candy too sweet to let go. Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation, rowed in favor of Barça as did Ricardo Cabot, secretary of the organization, who, in addition to his affection for the regime, was a well-known Barcelona supporter.
But the procedures were very slow and Kubala could only play friendly matches. He made his debut against Osasuna on 12 October, scoring two goals on the day the Barça fans knew instantly that they had just signed a star. Then he played against Zaragoza, Frankfurt twice, Girona and the Badalona. In six friendlies he scored 11 goals. The fans and the player himself were eager to meet in an official match. For all this, the Federation to play the role with FIFA fined Barça every time he lined up Kubala with the symbolic figure of 50 pesetas.
It is at this time that Kubala is about to leave everything and go away from Barça. He needed the money and wanted to play at the highest level and in Colombia he was offered the chance to do so. The South American country had organised the so-called Pirate League outside FIFA and many of the world's biggest stars joined, including Alfredo Di Stefano who went to Millonarios in Bogota. Kubala had a tempting offer from Atletico Bucaramanga. With the option of Kubala leaving, events accelerated. To begin with, Barça fixed his financial situation by means of a peculiar amateur contract in which they paid him 1,200 pesetas for "compensation" and 3,800 for "encouragement and overfeeding".
On April 2, 1951, he was granted the status of political refugee as a stateless person, which was a step towards granting him Spanish nationality. But for this step, Kubala first had to be converted to Catholicism through the sacrament of baptism. Every Spaniard had to be a Catholic. Kubala was baptized in Aguilas, Murcia, the birthplace of Muñoz Calero, president of the Federation. It is then when Barça, to avoid problems, settles its differences economically with Vasas, which despite being against capitalism accepts a payment of 300,000 pesetas to provide the transfer, while the Pro Patria, which also complained, is satisfied with 12 million lire.
The Kubala era could now really commence.

The legend on the field.

Kubala made his official debut with Barcelona in Sevilla in a cup match. The Sevillistas at that time were one of the best teams. Sevilla and Barça had developed in that period a great rivalry in the high places of the table. In 1946 Sevilla had stolen the possibility of winning the championship from Barça by drawing in Les Corts on the last day, in 1948 Barça beat the Sevillians in the final of the Eva Perón Cup (which would be the current Supercup) and in that campaign a Barça without Kubala had lost all its options to win La Liga after losing 4-0 in Nervión three days before the end of the season.
The Cup, by that time was played once the regular season was over and in those circumstances the official debut of Kubala took place. On April 29th in Nervion, Barça arrived to play against Sevilla in the middle of a difficult atmosphere. The Andalusians had lost the league in a dramatic outcome when they drew at home in the last match against Atletico Madrid with a refereeing performance that the locals judged scandalous. For further concern, the Federation allowed Kubala to line up with Barça in the first round of the Cup, which in Sevilla was taken as a surprise.
With the stadium full to the flag, Barcelona defeated Sevilla in an exhibition of Kubala. He wasn't just the best of the match but he showed Spain a way of playing football unthinkable until that time: chest controls, shots with curve, millimetric changes of play of 40 meters, protection of the ball with his back, use of the body in the shot and touches with the heel.
Domenech, Sevilla's attacker who was the direct protagonist of that match, explained years later how he remembered that day.
"It was something never seen before. Ramallets kicked it and he would receive her with his chest, or with either of his legs. If you tackled him he would dribble you in a brick. He'd put the ball where he wanted her. Besides, from time to time he changed with César, he'd be a center forward and César would be a midfielder. They drove us crazy. The anger of the people became clamours. We were witnessing something extraordinary. It was like going from black and white cinema to colour," explained the former Sevilla player. The Sevilla crowd, who had welcomed Barça and its new superstar with anger, ended up giving Kubala a standing ovation for every action as if they were watching a glorious bullfighting performance.
Kubala's actions on the field change football forever. Since there was no television, his exploits are reported orally. There is no other way to see it than to go to the field of Les Corts, which is packed for every game Barça plays as a local. It is a very common argument to say that Kubala forced Barça to build the Camp Nou because the old Les Corts was not enough to accommodate all the people who wanted to admire him. Maybe he had an influence, but as the journalist Frederic Porta, author of an interesting biography of Kubala (Kubala, l'heroi que va canviar la història del Barça. Ed. Saldonar) explains, "the truth is that Barça had already bought the land to build the Camp Nou two years before and the idea of making a bigger field already existed, but Kubala advanced everything and justified the change".
Blessed with brutal technique, a sensational strike of the ball and an unusual physical strength, Kubala changed football. He would throw free-kicks over the wall with curve or by making the ball bounce in front of the goalkeeper, he would take penalties (he was practically infallible) with what was later called paradinha and was credited with the Brazilians although he was the first in Europe to do so. Physically he was a bull. In his youth he had practiced boxing and if he didn't become a recognized fighter with a great career it was because he had short arms. His lower body was sensational. He had a butt and legs that allowed him to protect the ball like no one else. Frederic Porta says that "in his time of splendour they measured his thighs and each one had a circumference of 69 centimetres, which would be the waist of one of his companions". He was also capable of running the 100 metres in less than 11 seconds. A total athlete with a very refined technique.
However, that physical strength and the confidence he had in her, for he never avoided a collision, were his downfall. Kubala became the target of a hunt by rival defenders. He never went into hiding and that's why in eleven years at Barcelona he suffered up to eleven injuries of some seriousness. With matches without television, the harshness that bordered on violence was the order of the day. He was being kicked to death.
But Barça was living its most golden period to date. Moreover, the club revolved around Kubala. Frederic Porta compares it with the present time: "Now they say that Messi commands the club and surely he commands, but nothing to do with the influence that Kubala had. Kubala was the boss and even the one who decided the transfers. And no one was surprised. That Barça adopted the socks with the horizontal stripes blaugrana is his imposition. He saw them on the rugby team, liked them and incorporated them into the football team by decree. In fact, it is he who insists on signing Luis Suarez when he impresses him in a match against Deportivo. Kubala was Suarez's first fan, but what happened in the stands, which was divided between Suaristas and Kubalistas, is another matter.
Suarez was eight years younger than Kubala. He arrived at Barcelona at the age of 19, Kubala was 27 and his physique was very punished by his injuries and the life he was living, as he did not deprive himself of anything. If he held out, it was because of privileged genetics.
Therefore, there never was a real competition between them, but there was a lot of influence here from the figure of Helenio Herrera, the Barça manager, who saw Kubala as older and slower and was looking forward to a quick change by the young Galician as the leader of the team. The debate reached the stands and the media. It was an absurd debate, because they didn't play in the same position, with whom Kubala really had a certain rivalry with Eulogio Martínez, who was the one with whom he alternated the position.
Kubala's physical problems were not only due to injuries. He had the whole of Spain in suspense when he suffered a tuberculosis that could have cost him his life. There are apocryphal versions that explain that this tuberculosis was actually a stab wound he suffered in a fight in a cheap pub in the fifth district (Barcelona's Chinatown) and he has to retire to Montseny to recover. Nobody is betting on his return to the pitch if he survives a "hole in the lung the size of a silver bullet" according to the chronicles of the time. But once again, Kubala's ability to survive prevails. He returns to the pitches, but already heavily punished and slowed down.
It is against this backdrop that the 1961 European Cup final arrives, with Kubala arriving at the age of 34 with a herniated disc that barely allows him to walk, but he wants to play. He knows that the club is going through a critical situation despite having reached the final of the maximum trophy for the first time: the club is bankrupt because of the construction of the Camp Nou, the fights in the board of directors are chaotic, Luis Suarez has signed for Inter (the one in Bern will be his last game with Barça), which was where Helenio Herrera had left the team in the hands of Enrique Orizaola.
Kubala tells Orizaola to line him up, that like all the Portuguese will go for him and he can barely move because of the back pain and will play with painkillers, it will give more opportunities to his teammates. But the match is a pile of misfortunes for Barcelona. Ramallets scores an own goal, Barça shoots three times to the damn square posts of the goals (from then on they would change their shape) even Kubala kicked a ball that hit a post, went through the goal line until it hit the other post and came out repelled. Barça lost and Kubala's time at Barcelona came to an end.

The man of the year.

Kubala's significance goes beyond the playing field. According to a vote made for Radio Barcelona by journalist Joaquín Soler Serrano in the mid-50s, the Catalans most loved by their fellow citizens were Doctor Barraquer and Ladislao Kubala.
"He was literally the most famous person in the city, people really venerated him, and even Messi's influence cannot be compared to that of Kubala in those years," explains Porta.
His life off the field was notorious. An unrepentant night owl, it was common to see him in Barcelona's fashionable coffee shops and nightclubs. He was a man who stood out. Alfredo Relaño defines him in some of his articles as "a demigod. Tall, strong, blond with blue eyes and an overflowing personality. He aroused the admiration of men and women alike. An idol". Frederic Porta sums it up with the argument that "he would be the sum of Messi and Beckham and on top of that, he would go out every night".
Faced with Kubala's disorganised life, the Barcelona management decided to set up a private detective agency to follow him at night. The reports of the detectives are still in the Centre de Documentació del FC Barcelona and Frederic Porta published them in the history magazine 'Sàpiens'. In them, he gives a detailed account of the nocturnal wanderings of "Mr. K.", the code name of the Blaugrana star in an exercise in absurd discretion. There is also a letter from a Sabadell businessman in the club's archives, expressing concern that Kubala and Czibor had been "found in a Sabadell establishment after 2.30 in the morning accompanied by some of those ladies who were once gentlemen, I don't know if you understand". What the businessman doesn't explain in the letter is what he was doing in the same place.
Kubala's fondness for drinking was no secret. Helenio Herrera explains in a television interview that "one day at an airport in customs they asked Kubala if he had anything to declare and he said two bottles of whisky. The official asked him to show them to him and he, laughing, touched his belly and said: 'X-ray, I have them inside'. On another occasion, in the same situation, but carrying the bottle in the bag, he was told to leave it at the airport because no alcoholic drinks were allowed to be taken on board. Neither shy nor lazy, he drank it in front of the astonished official.
The legends about the occasions when the night was made longer and he did not arrive at training sessions or matches were recurrent. In that case, he called on the services of Angel Mur Sr., the team masseur who knew where to find him. He would start a pilgrimage through the usual places or floors until he found him, took him to the changing room, gave him a cold shower, a coffee with salt, a massage and played. The fans forgave him everything and were aware that their star was a man of joyful life. But he never failed on the field. Among the crowd at the time there were comments about the Kubala ritual in those games that followed a busy night. "He started off badly, and vaguely, but the signal was when, ten minutes into the game, he rolled up his sleeves as if to say 'I'm here, let's start, I've already cleared off', and the machine started to work.
You can't find anyone in the world who speaks ill of Kubala. Absolutely no one. Everyone highlights his huge heart and that despite being by far the highest paid player of the time (he earned six times more than his teammates) he didn't have a no for anyone. His detachment from money was legendary.
As proof, the anecdote explained by his biographer Porta: "one day he arrived at the dressing room and commented that his car had been stolen and that in the glove compartment he was carrying an envelope with 200,000 pesetas, which was a fortune for the time (a good apartment could cost 130,000 pesetas). When his colleagues tried to encourage him, he simply said: someone who needs it more than I do must have taken it".
It was also usual for him to take off his coat and give it to a poor man who begged in Barcelona's winter, or to take in any Hungarian who came to Barcelona asking for help in his house in Carrer Duquesa d'Orleans. Kubala, remembering his times as a stateless refugee without papers, asked nothing. He would take them home and pay them a boat ticket to America. The motto among the refugees fleeing the Iron Curtain was that "if you get to Barcelona, look for Kubala, he will help you". He never failed.
Later, now retired, he set up a bar next to Czibor in Capitan Arenas Street, the mythical Kep Duna (blue Danube in Hungarian) that became an unofficial refugee reception centre that was monitored by the secret services of the United States, the USSR and the Spanish police. Something like the Rick's Café in the film Casablanca, but in the upper area of Barcelona.
He was the great character of Barcelona loved by all, but there was a moment when this was almost broken, strange as it may seem. It coincided with the defeat in Bern, when a part of the press came to write that "Barça must be de-Kubalized as the Soviet Union must be de-Stalinized" and, especially, when he signed for Espanyol. The earthquake was a huge one.

From the bench to Sarrià.

After the defeat in Bern's final, Kubala announced his retirement from the fields. He had taken the coaching course and was ranked number one in his class. He made a pact with the president Llaudet, who was also an interesting character as we will see, that in principle he would take charge of the footballers' school of the club and that in a couple of years he would be in charge of the first team.
Meanwhile, Barcelona is directed by Lluís Miró who faces a team in disarray. Suarez has been transferred to Inter in the worst decision in the club's history and myths such as Ramallets, Tejada and Czibor were in the decline of their careers. The season starts badly and after losing at Mestalla to Valencia by a humiliating 6-2 that forces the resignation of Miro. It was time for Kubala, who was promoted to the first team in front of the joy of the fans. And the project results from the beginning. The Barça of the second part of season 61-62 recovers in La Liga and finishes second (the distance with the white ones when Kubala arrived was almost insurmountable) and avenges the 6-2 of Mestalla beating Valencia in the Camp Nou 4-0.
Facing the next season, the 62-63, Kubala can make his team by giving painful drops of some of his former teammates as it is the case of Eulogio Martinez or Evaristo. One of Llaudet's reluctances to give Kubala the job of coach was that he would have to manage some of his former teammates.
The positive expectations about Kubala's first full project were frustrated at first when the Blaugrana team had to play the final of the Copa de Ferias against Valencia, the team that caused the fall of Miró and the promotion of Kubala. And the history, by rare that it seems, repeats: Valencia returns to him to put 6-2 to the Barça. The fans explode against the team. In the return match, obviously, there is nothing to do, but Llaudet's ability to self-flagellation has no limits. As Alfredo Relaño writes, the Blaugrana president calls a dinner with the press the day before the game and makes this statement that if it happened today would open all the news.
Llaudet, in front of the press and accompanied by the coach Kubala and Gràcia as captain, asks the fans to forgive him and announces changes in the protocol of the start of the second leg. "Valencia will go out first to receive the applause, then Barcelona, to receive the whistles. Then Kubala will come out, so he can get the thunders. And finally me, so that all the whistles fall on my person, because I am the barcelonist who loves the club the most and who is destined to die on the pitch, if necessary...". He ends his speech crying. As we can see, Gaspart didn't invent anything.
The match ended in a draw and Kubala's project as Barça's coach was doomed. The manager is fired in the middle of the season and then a bomb explodes in Barcelona. Kubala accepts the offer to return to the pitch, but not as a coach, will be as a player and nothing more and nothing less than in Espanyol, Barça's eternal rival.
On 3 September 1963 Espanyol, then Español, announced that Kubala would be hired as a player. At 36 years of age, he was capable of being competitive.
His decision divides the public opinion. On the one hand, Federico Gallo and Juan José Castillo support his decision, on the other hand, Carlos Pardo or Ibáñez Escofet shoot at him. They call him a "Jew who sells himself for a plate of beans", a "traitor" and they see political interests in his decision.
Kubala explains that he wanted to continue playing and that he saw himself capable of doing so, although he accepted that he was not at Barcelona's level. He had received offers from important clubs, including River Plate and Juventus, but he doesn't want to leave Barcelona, where he feels like another Barcelonian. The Espanyol meets his expectations.
His start of the season is not bad, on the contrary, he scores in his first two games, but the team doesn't work out. The coexistence between the veteran newcomer Kubala and the team's symbol, Argilés, is not easy. Scopelli is dismissed as coach and de facto command of the team is given to the two team leaders despite their differences. The crisis erupts when the Spaniard visits the Camp Nou. The periquitos lose by 5-0 in a match in which the Barcelona crowd booed Kubala who they are eager to humiliate with his new team. Even so, at the end of the match, Kubala has a gesture to his former team that shows that he does not hold any grudge against what he has heard from the stands. At the end of the match, he organizes his teammates to make the corridor to Barça applauding the rival in recognition of the exhibition made. That gesture feels bad among the Espanyol fans and among some of his teammates. Argilés does not make the corridor and goes straight to the changing rooms.
The following year, Kubala becomes a manager-player and among the departures that he causes, there is the one of Argilés, but by contrast, Di Stéfano arrives, also hurt by his bad exit from Madrid fighting against Bernabéu.
Di Stefano and Kubala are like brothers. Even though they haven't officially played together, they have a special chemistry. A friendship that is forged when the Argentinian is about to sign for Barcelona.
When Di Stéfano arrives in Barcelona to sign for Español, he stays first at the Avenida Palace Hotel, but after a month he is living in Kubala's house as one of the family. The children of both always maintained a relationship as if they were brothers.
One of the players under Kubala's command was Jose Maria Rodilla, one of the players who would soon form the famous 'Dolphins' forward line. At 80 years of age, Rodilla remembers Kubala.
"I have a wonderful memory of Kubala, I always had a special affection for him. Not in vain, he was the one who signed me for Espanyol", he remembers when answering the call of this newspaper to which he confesses that* "normally I do not make declarations, but to speak about Kubala I do whatever is needed"*.
Rodilla, former teammate at Espanyol, has clear that "he was the best player in the world in terms of technique. Di Stéfano was the best footballer, but he didn't have his technique. Alfredo was more intense and more player of the whole field, but he could not do things that Kubala did"
Those who had the privilege of playing with both of them remember that "for example, Di Stefano wouldn't leave you alone for a minute, he was all over you and the fights were intense, but he always set an example, he never asked you for anything that he didn't do. Kubala was more paternalistic and tolerant. For example, he would ask us to do as he did in training, and while sitting down he would be able to make 3,000 touches on the ball without dropping it. Only he could do that."
Rodilla adds a story that explains Kubala's quality as a player-coach at the age of 38: "We went to play a friendly at Amposta and they called a foul on the edge of the box. Kubala takes the ball and whacks it into the corner. The referee made him repeat it because someone had moved or I don't know what. Kubala takes the ball and wham, back to the square. And the referee tells him that he has to repeat. That day Kubala got angry and left the field."
Rodilla recalls that Kubala's move from Barça to Espanyol created controversy in the city, but that he was oblivious to it. "He was still a magnificent person, I never heard him say a bad word against anyone. He never got into an argument, he was goodness personified, he was unlucky in his time as a coach, but as a coach he is one of the best I've ever had, with a great love for young players and always trying to help you improve."

Boys well, optimal morale.

He extended his playing career for a couple more years by playing for Zurich and even trying out the American adventure at the Toronto Falcons, where he coincides with Branko and Daucik's son. At the age of 40 he played 19 games and scored 5 goals.
In 1968 he returned to Spain and trained the Córdoba team for a short period of time until he was called up to the national team. Kubala will manage the Spanish team until 1980, when he signs for Barcelona again as a coach.
Kubala's debut with Spain was, once again, a propaganda match for the regime. It was played in the Estadio de la Línea de la Concepción against Finland and Spain beat their rivals 6-0 in a match that was no longer useful. Spain had missed out on qualifying for the Mexico '70 World Cup, but the idea of that game was to showcase a great field that could be seen from Gibraltar as if to give jealousy to those in the Rock for the sports culture of Spain. Dictatorship things.
It's true that at that time Spain was struggling more than anything else on the international scene. It did not qualify for the 1974 World Cup because of Katalinski's goal in the play-off match in Frankfurt, and in both the 1978 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship the team fell in the first round, but there is still no one from that era who will make a judgement against Kubala.
"Kubala, one ahead of his time. No doubt he had a lot to do with his past as a footballer. And not just like any other player, like the best! I remember him always saying to me: 'Ruben, you have to get out of the way on the other side of the ball. Look for the space, not the ball. The goal I scored in Yugoslavia has to do with everything he taught me," he told Fermin de la Calle in an interview with AS Ruben Cano, the hero of the famous 'Battle of Belgrade' in the match that took Spain to the World Cup in Argentina. Yes, the one with the goal by Cardeñosa that could have changed Kubala's record with the national team.
He did a lot to improve Spanish football and his idea regarding the incorporation of foreigners to improve the level of Spanish football was key in the future development of the Spanish competitive level.
His players remember him as a didactic person, tactically bold and very close. At a time when fury was the hallmark of the game, Kubala never forgot that he was the heir to the Magyar tradition of the Honved and the Hungary who, by moving the ball, shocked the world the day they destroyed England at Wembley 3-6.
For the average football fan, Kubala may have been a half-hearted coach who embodied an era of the national team in which nothing was won, as has been the case most of the time, and he became popular for his expressions that would now be meme material on social networks. The national team was known as the 'Kubala boys' and the coach's catchphrase before the matches saying "boys well, optimal morale" was the fashionable phrase in the coffee shops of the 70s in Spain.
But among his colleagues, Kubala still deserved reverential respect. "The first goal was authentically Latin, cunningly scored and perfectly studied. I can only congratulate Kubala on his previous tactical work," said German boss Helmut Schön after facing and losing to Spain in a friendly in which the recent world semi-finalist and next world champion fell to the Kubala boys at the Sanchez Pizjuan with two strategic goals from Arieta. Yes, Arieta against Müller. Seeler, Beckembauer, Maier, Netzer and company.
He left the national team in 1980 to join Barça as the coach of Núñez's second project in an operation that was the prelude to what would happen in the World Cup in Russia with Lopetegui. Kubala committed to Barça while he was coach and tried to alternate functions, but Porta refused. Finally, on 8 June 1980, four days before the start of the European Championship, Kubala signed for the Blaugrana team, which he would join after the European Championship.
His second spell at the head of Barça did not go well either and he was dismissed mid-season. He continued his adventure on the bench as coach of Saudi Arabia (in that he was also a pioneer), training Malaga and the Paraguayan national team before retiring from football on the bench of Elche.
He spent his final years in Barcelona as active as ever. Playing with Barça veterans, helping his teammates, not having a no for anyone and playing tennis every day or going for a run or cycling routes exhibiting an enviable physical condition.
Until the light of genius and the glory faded away 18 years ago. A degenerative brain disease put an end to the adventure, but not to the legend of a world football myth. An icon that changed the lives of so many people that they wouldn't fit even in a stadium.
The coffin with the mortal remains of Kubala was carried on shoulders, amidst the applause of the fans who gathered at the doors of the church of Santa Tecla, by Alfredo Di Stéfano, Gustau Biosca, Eduardo Manchón, Estanislao Basora, Joan Segarra, Josep Bartomeu, Luis Suárez, Antoni Ramallets and Gonzalvo III.
He rests in the cemetery of Les Corts, next to the Camp Nou because that is what he left written in his will, while Serrat sang to him about how...
...Pelé was Pelé and Maradona was the one and that's it. Di Stéfano was a pit of mischief. Honour and glory to those who made the sun shine on our football. Everyone has his merits; to each his own, but for me none is like Kubala. Respectable silence is requested, for those who haven't enjoyed him, I'll say four things: he stops it with his head, he drops it on with his chest, he sleeps it off with his left, crosses the pitch with the ball attached to the boot, leaves the midfield and enters the box showing the ball, hides it with his body, pushes with his ass and gets in with his heels. He pisses on the centerback with a dedicated piece. and touches her gently to put her on the path to glory.

by Santi Gimenez for AS.com (2020)

submitted by LordVelaryon to soccer [link] [comments]

Kaltz , Man of The Rising Sun Arc ( Rising Sun Spoilers )

For a long time , Most of the drive force to keep me reading CT Manga was Nostalgia Factor , but as a Manga itself I have some concerns and criticism towards it
But actually , I have been having a wild ride with Rising Sun Manga, Especially starting Germany Vs Brazil match , it is like it is the point Takahashi started experimenting with a different style of story telling , and I actually love that ( and I am not even talking about the way Wakabayashi/Misugi injuries turned out , Which were too much and weakest part IMO ) , but I am talking more about the unpredictable events ( to the degree that we actually considered the possibility of Japan Vs Brazil at Quarter Finals ) , the shine of non-Major Main characters ( to the degree that the 11 member of Germany got their moments and most of us memorized their names ) , and Even though we are now reaching 3 and half years of Germany matches , but I bet most of us didnt get bored of the team but in fact the team grows on us more as time Passes , I personally have U23 Germany Team as my favorite team in the entire series ( Formerly it was Hyuga's Meiwa ) , but If I have to pick one player who is the Star of this Arc , I will choose Kaltz
- Showed his backbone as a Co-Captain of the Team ( for some he is the real Captain ) , His Interaction with Schweil Shows his Big role behind the scenes - Was a Threat to Rivaul , Who had no choice but to use Brute Force to get rid of him - Was a Threat to Tsubasa who couldnt directly get past him IIRC , even in his Injury - Got past Golden Combi by his own - Great and Enjoyable character in himself and always has a Good sense of Humor - Even at his limits , He still carries the Germany Team and Biggest part of the team heart
After Germany-Brazil , Germany-Japan , I hope Takahashi has Good plans for Spain-Japan
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Will more free agents take the Nikola Mirotic route and return to Europe in the era of COVID-19 uncertainty?

I think, for several reasons, we might see players follow Nikola Mirotic’s lead and return to Europe this offseason. COVID-19 has changed the financial landscape of the NBA, and there will be less cap space around the league than we anticipated. When considering the tax differences between an NBA contract and a contract with a European team, I think we could see veteran players with NBA offers for less than the Mid-Level Exception opt to leave the NBA for a European team. Players might want to spend more time with family, or they might be concerned about being stuck in America if things shut back down. Other players could choose to sign overseas in preparation for the Olympics scheduled in 2021. When looking over the free agent list, some names that jumped out as candidates to sign in Europe include:
Goran Dragić: This would be a shocker, kind of like Mirotic was last year. It seems like Dragić will probably have at least one Mid-Level Exception offer from an NBA team, if not more. Plus, Dragic has said he doesn’t want to play in the Olympics again. Still, Miami could decide to move on and Dragić, 34, is nearing the end of his career. If, for some reason, the money Dragić is offered by NBA teams is close to what is being offered by the top European teams, Dragic could decide to finish his career in Europe.
Marc Gasol: Gasol remains one of the best defensive big men on the planet, even at age 36. I think he’s probably looking at a Room Exception or Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception this summer, and maybe one of the big Spanish teams makes an offer for Marc that’s competitive with that. Would playing with his brother Pau in Spain for a season in preparation for the Olympics be enticing enough to lure Marc out of the NBA?
Aron Baynes: Baynes looked incredible early on last year, but faded as the season went on. It seems like he’ll probably get enough in free agency to ward off the NBL in his native Australia, but maybe some kind of ownership stake could be enough of an incentive to lure an active NBA player out of the league. There is such a deep market for big men like Baynes this fall, so he may end up falling through the cracks if Phoenix decides to use cap space.
Jakob Poeltl: Like Dragic or Mirotic this seems unlikely, but, after what looked like a playoff breakout, Poeltl has been relegated to San Antonio’s bench this season. He’ll have the opportunity to prove himself in a starting role in Orlando following LaMarcus Aldridge’s season-ending injury, and he will likely earn a Mid-Level Exception offer there. Still, it’s worth mentioning that he could avoid restricted free agency if he signed with a European team, so if the Spurs try to squeeze him that could be an option.
Juan Hernangomez: Like Jakob Poeltl, I expect Juancho to sign with an NBA team for more than any European team would offer, likely with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Still, he’s a restricted free agent who could avoid those restrictions by teaming up with his brother and signing with a Spanish team.
Willy Hernangomez: Willy Hernangomez is a lesser prospect than his brother Jauncho or Poeltl, but he still will likely have NBA offers for the minimum. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signed overseas.
Thon Maker: Maker, like Hernangomez, will likely have NBA offers for the minimum. His game might be better suited for the NBL in Australia or a European team.
Ante Zizic: Again, Zizic will likely have NBA offers for the minimum. Still, if he wants to play more I wouldn’t blame him for signing in Europe.
Marco Bellineli: Bellineli really struggled in San Antonio, and it seems like he’s done as an NBA player. I’d bet on his signing with a European team or retiring.
submitted by TTVW to nba [link] [comments]

Don't Believe His Smile

18th April, 1991
My dad used to tell me a story when I was a child, of a hereditary spirit known only in our family as the grinning man, passed down through generations. He would warn of tragedies, appearing before misfortunes to alert the bearer of his curse that something terrible would shortly happen. One day, he said, once his body has returned to the weeds, the grinning man would come to me.
The borders of the cemetery were teaming with crowds of reporters and journalists, all eager to take that one perfect picture to go on the front of which ever paper they were there for, I suspected as much. But I was a step ahead. As my father’s casket was lowered into the ground, I scanned the surrounding crowd of mourners for my private hire, the only photographer I would allow into the ceremony, Jeremy Winger. I spotted him on the other side of the hole, his fluffed russet hair sticking out between a couple of suits that I couldn’t quite place. Business partners of my father I figured; he had many. Once Jeremy locked eyes with me I nodded to him subtly, he nodded back and began doing what he was there to do.
I could see that the constant flashing of Jeremys camera was upsetting the already upset people in attendance. Namely my brother, Edward, he shot me a brief look of disappointment. Listen, if people are going to take pictures the least I could do was make sure they would be good ones. It was a win win, I made sure Jeremy would get the best shots, that way he could sell them to all the papers and its not as though they would use any of their own, all the other photographers were a hundred feet away. As the eldest son I was now the honorary head of the family and I had to make a good first impression, I sure as hell wasn’t going to let some hack, amateur journalist cover the event or let a shoddy blurry image make it to the front of tomorrows paper.
The car ride home was uncomfortable, my wife, Liliane glared at me the entire way there. Not just because of Jeremy, there were lots of reasons for her to be upset. I wish I understood that at the time.
Later that night me and my wife crawled into bed, not saying so much as goodnight to each other. She rolled over, her back facing me, I waited to see if she would say anything to me. she never did and eventually I drifted off. It couldn’t have been more than two hours before I awoke to her prodding my back. I rubbed my eyes and perked up, ‘perhaps she was about to apologise’ I thought. “Are you going to get that fucking phone?” she barked to my dismay. The faint sound of ringing began to become more audible as I stumbled downstairs in my nightgown.
“Yes”, I growled after I yanked the phone off the wall. “hi, err, George, its Jeremy, I think we should meet”. “meet” I stuttered. I glanced at the grandfather clock ticking monotonously in the corner. “its two in the fucking morning, what purpose could you possibly have to meet me at two in the fucking morning?” “Sorry mister Clay I understand you must be livid”, I could hear a slight apprehension in his voice. “But this really is quite an emergency, I think it best to meet as soon as possible”. I sighed and arranged a meetup at a bar called Danny’s, the only place I knew would be open so late.
“Honey I’m going to meet a friend, I won’t be any longer than an hour ok?” I shouted up the stairs slipping on my pants and shoes. No response. I suspected as much.
I pushed open the door to Dannys, the stench of stale beer filling my nose. Jeremy was already there, sat in an isolated booth in the corner. As I approached, I noticed his left leg shaking under the table. “You not gonna order anything”, I smirked, referring to the empty table. Jeremy was not amused. He pulled some papers out his satchel resting on his lap and lay them on the table. Pictures from the funeral. “Now, I’m really am sorry mister Clay, I don’t know how I could’ve missed him”, “what the fuck are you talking about?” I said, more than irritated. He pointed to a spot on the left most picture. “This was the first picture I developed when I got home, look closely”. There was an urgency about his tone. I looked to where he was pointing. There was a man, an elderly man dressed all in black like everyone else, donning a similarly coloured trilby. He was amongst the miserable crowd of mourners but what differed him from the rest was the wide, sinister, almost cartoonish grin. His face contorted around his ominous smile as though it was paining him.
I was speechless. “Then I developed another and another, this same man appearing in all of them” Jeremy continued, “I don’t know how this could have happened, as I said I didn’t even notice him at the time”. There was a sort of dismay in his voice, I almost felt sorry for him. “well, cant you just edit him out or something, I mean, this is what you do isn’t it?” I said, trying not to sound too harsh. “Ye well, I thought of that too, but look closer, the man is obscuring you in all of them. George, you are not in a single one of these pictures”.
I told Jeremy to leave. “what should I do with these?” he asked on his way out, holding up the pictures. “flush em down the fucking toilet, burn em, destroy em I don’t care”, I responded, defeated. He left and I sat at the bar, ordering more than enough drinks, didn’t stop me from driving myself home though. I stumbled my way through the door and in a stupor and collapsed on the couch.
The next few weeks were a blur. I went from meeting to meeting, function to function on some sort of anxiety riddled autopilot. It was during this period of limbo that the grinning man made another appearance.
Honestly, I couldn’t give two shits about my nephew’s football game, but Liliane wanted to go and things were already bad with my brother so the choice had already been made for me. Once we got there I was surprised at the size of the field and the surrounding stands, I have my dad to thank for that one, he preferred home-schooling for his children. Our family sat near the top of the left stand, best seat in the house apparently, I wouldn’t know.
Alex, my nephew was number three. He was actually fairly good. I can’t remember exactly what the score was but Alex’s team was winning as the game neared its end. By that point I was more invested in the game then I ever could have anticipated. Through a series of catches and throws Alex had gotten his hands on the ball once again. The crowd erupted as he tore across the pitch, but as he did, in the rim of my peripheral I spotted an unsettling sight across the field. Up at the very top of the stand immediately opposite ours, a familiar face grinned at me. Thinking my eyes to be deceiving me I squinted and learned forward, sure enough it was him. The same man from my father’s funeral pictures, wearing the exact same dark outfit, his black hat tilted downwards atop his twisted face.
Suddenly, in an instant the crowd became almost silent aside from a few gasps. I looked back down at the pitch. Number three was laying on the ground clutching his leg surrounded by the other players. Eventually he was lifted off and taken to a nearby hospital. I later learned that one of the other kids, in a brutal attempt to keep him from scoring, tackled Alex so belligerently that his left leg snapped clean in two at the shin. I didn’t see the man after that. He was nowhere to be found after the game and believe me I looked. I wanted to question that freak on who he was and what he wants with my family, so I waited at the entrance to the stand I saw him in, but he never came out.
Liliane didn’t take kindly to me neglecting her after the game however, she was much closer to Alex than me and I could see she was a little shaken. Once back home I tried to comfort her, but it was too little too late I suppose, and the day ended the same way they had the past month, with not so much as a goodnight before we slept.
Another month passed without incident. Alex was in the hospital for a day or two before coming out with a cast and a pair of crutches. I gave my sympathies to Edward and his wife, over the phone. They thanked me but I could hear the faint whispers of bitterness in their voices, they weren’t too impressed with my apparent lack of concern. I waited for a day in which I was free, back in those days that privilege came seldom. The plan was to have my chauffeur, Rodrigo, drive me up to the city to buy a gift for Alex. It was time for me to start giving a shit.
I learned my head against the back-left window as the car rolled along the road. The sky was grey, I stared at it with a sense of melancholy, or perhaps just boredom. “You ok back there sir?” Rodrigo asked, glancing at me in the rear-view mirror. I shot him a subtle thumbs up and returned my gaze to the window. “Rodrigo?” “Yes sir” he responded. Rodrigo was young you see, his father used to work for me so I figured I’d throw his son a bone after he died. He was a good kid who looked good behind a wheel, especially the wheel of a car expensive as that one. “What’s your favourite movie Rodrigo?” I asked. “die hard” he answered quickly. I sniggered, “that was your dads favourite as well. Maybe that’s why he decided to be a security guard?” “ye maybe”, Rodrigo responded hesitantly, “but, John Mclane wasn’t a security guard he was a cop”. “Same difference” I mumbled.
“You got a girlfriend Rodrigo?” “No sir, never had a girlfriend in my life”. I turned my head facing the front windshield, “What, how old are you, twenty and you’ve never had-,” I paused. Passed Rodrigo’s head, on the right sidewalk, the silhouette of a man came into view, it was him. Quickly I lunged out of my seat and into the parting between the two at the front, basically breathing down the back of Rodrigo’s neck. I pointed at the man whose unhinged grin became visible as the car rapidly approached. “do you see that man?” I shouted. Rodrigo was startled. “who, who I don’t know?” “Him him In the black hat!” He tried to keep his eyes on the road but my voice was getting more and more urgent. “Mister Clay, I don’t know, I can’t see!” I was borderline screaming now. “look you motherfucker, look!” In between the commotion and without warning, a young boy ran out from between two parked cars and into the road. As if in the same instant, Rodrigo swerved to the right, narrowly missing the child but still hurtling into the rear end of another parked car. As we collided I was launched back into my seat, my head smacking off the leather which almost broke my neck.
I shook my head in an attempt to recover from the stun of the collision. Once I could see straight, I scrambled out the door and into the road, looking for the grinning man. He wasn’t there. Rodrigo was fine if not a bit disturbed, the car however, wasn’t so lucky. The entire front was completely demolished, almost sinking into the back of the other car as though it was one long vehicle.
The rest of that day was a blur. Once I was back at my house it was none stop phone calls, my assistant was furious and strongly instructed me to fire Rodrigo, I ignored her advice, but it was no matter. Rodrigo quit the next day.
Once back home I was surprised with an unfamiliar display of concern from Liliane. Her tone wasn’t what I would call affectionate, but beggars can’t be choosers. We sat on the couch and talked. “I know you only told me you were fine not to worry me, I’m not stupid you know”. She spoke firmly and confidently, I looked to the floor as she did. “What’s on your mind George?” I turned back to her. I thought of telling her that perhaps, my fathers death had affected me more than I first let on, or that the guilt of my poor behaviour had finally caught up to me, but like police dogs have a sent for drugs, she had a scent for bullshit. “when I was a boy, dad used to tell me a story. I can’t remember the details but, in its simplest form, the story was about our family, of a figure that only us with Clay blood could see,” “oh Jesus” she interrupted. “Are you gonna let me fuckin finish or what?” I barked. Her willingness to write this off so easily made me livid.
“I’m not asking for a goddam ghost story George, I’m trying to show you that I worry which is more than you fuckin deserve.” She was standing up now. “you asked me a question but you’re not letting me answer, just because you bothered to ask doesn’t automatically mean you give a shit about me, you know, it kind of defeats the purpose when you don’t let me get a word in!” It was a miracle I was able to make an actual reasonable argument, let alone do it while staying relatively calm. I fought the urge to stand, instead I just sank back in the couch. “so. How about you sit down and let me finish ye,” I said patting my hand on the free space of the couch. Liliane huffed before sitting, folding her arms as she did. I’m no expert but I’m pretty should that means they’re closing themselves off. “Thank you, now, what I was trying to say was that, I think that my father’s death has affected me as more as I may have let on,” I said, defeated. Over my dead body would I let that forked tongued bitch know that I believe in ghosts. Honestly, I didn’t care all too much about good old Arnold Clays passing as I think I’ve made abundantly clear.
She squinted at me condescendingly, “what’s all this shit about some ghost or whatever then?” she said, with an almost cartoonish level of suspicion. “It was just my long-winded way of saying I’m sad,” I said. Liliane scoffed; she didn’t believe me. I figured as much. But at least it didn’t end with a storm of curses and tantrums. She said nothing else and excused herself to the garden, to smoke I suspected, I didn’t blame her.
As soon as she left, I called my brother up. I asked if dad had ever told him the same story as he had told me. He didn’t know what I was talking about. “Listen George,” he spoke softly, “I worried about you, we all are, you haven’t been the same since dad died.” I rolled my eyes as Edward continued. “As I’m sure you know its my birthday next week, I’m having the whole family round and I’d like for you to be there, I understand if you want to be alone.” I was almost caught off-guard by this uncharacteristic show of kindness. “Yes, definitely I’ll be there.” I responded without hesitation. This was my chance to prove I wasn’t bat shit.
Immediately after Edward hung up I began to dial again, I waited eagerly for Jeremy to pick up the phone. “hello,” he said. “Jeremy it’s George, I’m going to need those funeral photos, you know the ones, with the grinning man”. It took him a few moments to answer. “wh- errr- , I threw those out mister Clay, remember you told me you didn’t care what I did with them” he responded confused. He was right, I did tell him that. “fuck” I sighed. “ok Jeremy, are you free now, I need to meet you at Danny’s again”. “Mister Clay I told you I don’t have the photos anymore”. “No, I know you said that but you can still help me, I’ll explain when I’m there ok, can you be there in an hour?” I asked with a stern confidence. To my delight Jeremy agreed to meet.
The sky outside was aglow with golden rays of sun as it lapsed down passed the conurbation. I pushed open the door to Danny’s to see Jeremy sat in the same place he was last time. I sat opposite him, same as before and waited for him to speak. “so, what can I do you for?” he said nervously. “I need you to free up your next week” I replied firmly. He tilted his head in confusion, before he said anything else I continued, “I need you to shadow me everywhere I go for the next week with your camera, is that something you think you can do?” “ye, I mean, you’re gonna pay me though right?” “Name your price.” I said. He still looked confused. “I’m sorry mister Clay can I ask what this is for?” I thought he would ask that. I figured I’d just tell him the truth, I mean, I owed him that much.
“Ok, listen Jeremy. Do you believe in ghosts or demons or any of that shit?”. His eyes widened, “ye actually I do, some guy a few years back hired me to photograph certain parts of his house at night, he thought the place was haunted you see. He said his dead ex wife was tormenting him from beyond the grave. So, I do what he said and stayed with him for the night and did my thing, taking pictures where and when he tells me. low and behold the next day after I developed them, there was the vague outline of a woman in a couple of the pictures.”
I sat back. “well, Jeremy, I’m gonna need you to do a similar thing for me”. Jeremy leaned forward. “So, what’s your story Mister Clay, who’s your monster” he asked. Jeremy seemed the type of man to enjoy a good ghost story. “Well, its complicated. You see, after my father died, I think he passed something down to me, he used to tell me this story of a grinning man appearing before tragedies or disasters, some sort of hereditary spirit”. I was going to carry on before he butted in “the guy in the funeral photos” he said with stark realisation. “yes, exactly but here’s the thing Jeremy, only I can see him, my family thinks I’m going fucking crazy”. “so, you want me to take a picture of him to prove your not going crazy”, Jeremy said, nodding as he did. “precisely” I confirmed “Is that something you can do” I asked hopefully. Jeremy named his price and we agreed on it with a handshake.
I didn’t leave the house in the days leading up to Edwards birthday. Liliane already thought so little of me that she hardly questioned why the photographer from my father’s funeral was sleeping in his car outside the house. For those days I lived in a sort of smug ignorance, as though I knew this would end with my victory. I smirked imagining the look on my wife’s face when I would show her the picture of my tormentor, for once I was hoping to see the man. I ached for it.
Finally, the day came. Our car rolled across the gravel outside Edwards mansion. Out the window I could see many other cars lined up outside, there was more people going than I first suspected. I hate to confess it but part of me always envied Edward because of his house, it was admittedly gorgeous. It looked aged, but not in a bad way, it had aged like a fine wine. Vines crawled up the crimson bricks like veins. Liliane complemented their home as we approached the door, she knew it got under my skin. Jeremy followed closely behind, his huge camera swinging from his neck. Edward and his wife Susan greeted us at the door, as it opened the sound music and people laughing and generally mingling erupted in my ears. This caught me off guard as I expected a much more intimate, family-oriented gathering, but it was a full-blown party.
The bottom floor of the house was divided into three main areas. Beyond the entrance was what didn’t look dissimilar to a what you might be greeted by upon entering a hotel, with a tall, wide staircase running up the centre, and a large glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling above, swaying ominously. A hallway to the right of the staircase lead to the living room, an expansive room of which the walls were coated in a mixture of grey and brown paint. The room was home to many different arrangements of furniture that lay before a flickering fireplace, with the north-most wall almost entirely consisting of tall windows. Out of the windows you could see their garden, a huge grassy glade surrounded by woodland. Alternatively, on the other side of the house, passed a hallway on the left side of the lobby was the kitchen among other utilities, I dare not go in there while the cake was being prepared.
After some small talk between our two couples I pulled Edward aside, “who are all these people?” I asked over the noise, “just friends” he replied, “I know you always used to hate our little family meetups, this is much more up your street George, I thought you’d be pleasantly surprised”. I put on a fake smile and agreed “yes this is much more fun” I said, and that part was true, but I wasn’t here to have fun. The large amount of people would complicate things. If the grinning man was to appear, he would be much harder to spot amongst the crowd, not to mention the trouble it would take to get a good picture of him. Just as I thought our conversation was over he pulled me in closer, “say George I see you’ve brought the guy from the funeral here, you know this probably isn’t a news worthy occasion” he said, pointing to Jeremy who had made himself comfortable in the corner of the living room, glass of cava in hand. I looked at him then back at Edward. “I just thought he should be here; better safe than sorry don’t you agree?” Edward smirked and nodded before patting me on the back and walking off.
The interior of the house was spacious, but it still seemed crowded, groups of shit-eating old men and their trophy wives sipping on champagne everywhere I looked. Though, I suppose Edward was right, if I hadn’t been burdened with the knowledge that I’m being haunted then I might have actually had a good time. I glanced at a tray of drinks across the room, laying on one of the many tables strewn about the living room. Admittedly, I was tempted to take a couple, but I refrained. I had to stay focused.
I walked over to Jeremy, still stood alone in the corner. As I approached, he grabbed his camera instinctively. I gestured him to put it down. “no not yet”, I said “but do you mind if you can try and stay away from the drinks please, if he appears I’m going to need you to be concentrated ok”. Jeremy’s stern poise loosed up. “Ye, sorry mister Clay, but it’s just what you said got me worried is all”. “which part” I chuckled nervously. “Well you were saying how this guy only appears before bad things happen right?” he said. I nodded in response. “Well, in that case, if he were to appear then isn’t there a chance someone could get hurt or something”. Jeremys right leg was quivering slightly now. Trying to put on a brave face I placed a hand on his shoulder, “listen Jeremy, its not like that, the worst I’ve seen happen is, well”, I stuttered in my attempt to conjure up a lie. “one time I saw him then a bird took a shit on my head, I think when we were talking at Danny’s I might have made it sound worse than it really is”. I took my hand of his shoulder. “you ok now”, I asked comfortingly. Jeremy nodded. “Good man”, I said patting him on the back. I walked off and he followed me to the lobby in which more people were mingling.
After that brief but telling interaction my blind ignorance had dwindled entirely, it was instead a sense of hesitation and perturbed distress which came over me during my hasty journey to the foyer. I hadn’t noticed it before but the incidents in which he showed himself appeared to be getting more intense. The thought raced through my mind, first it was the funeral. That was where I would consider the gradual decline of my family life began, that was subtle. But then it was the football game, injury. Then the car crash which almost ended the lives of three people, me Rodrigo and the child. If I were a betting man, I would say death is next. The thought alarmed me.
Once in the lobby my haunted gaze turned to the chandelier, which at a closer glance appeared to be rocking subtly like an empty swing in the wind. Below it stood three strangers, blissfully unaware as to what threatened them. I turned to Jeremy and quickly gestured him to get his camera ready. He clutched it and held it up to his face. I looked all around for the man in every corner of the room, I was ready at any moment to see his grinning face amongst the crowded room, or too see his black hat protruding out of the groups of people. I was certain that chandelier would fall. But alas, he was nowhere to be seen. But I did catch a glimpse of my brother, he was talking to a few of the other guests in the corner. I went to him and pulled him aside once more.
“Edward does the way that chandelier is moving not alarm you”, I said pointing up to it. He looked up at it and squinted his eyes, “I don’t see it moving George”. He responded confused. I looked up to it. He was right. It was still. Completely still. I looked down; my mind somewhat tangled. “whats the matter with you George, you seem disturbed”. I was. “you’re still thinking of that story dad told you, aren’t you?” I met his eyeline, my vanquished expression told him all. “oh jesus George, it’s a tall tale, a story to scare you before bedtime that’s all it is”. I knew it was more than that, but I couldn’t go into it with him now. “listen, I think you should take this time to have fun, I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?” he said. He had no idea what the worst was, but he did have a point. It did cross my mind at that moment that the chance of the grinning man appearing at a birthday party was slim. I think the anticipation of the event lead me to create a false expectation. After all, the grinning man only warns of misfortunes, he doesn’t cause them. Or at least, that’s what dad used to say. “come on”, Edward said, “I think its time for the cake”. He announced eagerly, herding everyone into the living room as the muffled sound of women singing happy birthday started up in the kitchen.
As I walked into the living room behind everyone, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see Jeremy. “Mister Clay, do you mind if I go number one quickly, I’m about to burst”. He said. I smirked, “ye sure, bathrooms up the stairs and to the right, you’ll find it”. He thanked me and darted up the long flight of stairs.
All the guests squeezed into the living room, as the cooks emerged from around the corner, one of them wheeling along a towering, white cake. Soon after everyone joined in on the song, wishing Edward a very happy birthday. I began singing too and for a brief moment there, I almost felt contempt. That was foolish of me, because, in the end, its never that simple. As I sang at the very edge of my vision, I noticed an unwelcome disparity in the scenery out the window. I stopped singing and turned, facing the vast backyard, and in the darkness beyond the glass I saw it. On the very edge of the garden, where the glade met the forest, I made out the vague outline of a man, dressed all on the black. His glistening white teeth calling out to me in the pale moonlight. My heart dropped. I pushed through the crowd violently, people gasped and stopped their singing as I barged passed and into the hallway. I sprinted to the lobby, calling up the stairs with all the power my lungs had, “Jeremy!” “Get the fuck down here”. I continued to scream as I heard the hasty thud of footsteps grow louder from the second floor. “quickly!” I bellowed desperately. Jeremy hurried round the corner and to the top of the stairs.
I didn’t see it coming, how could I have. In his desperate rush Jeremy tripped over his own feet, tumbling head-first down the stairs. The camera, still round his neck crunched under his weight as he fell. He landed violently on the ground by his neck which cracked with a room silencing snap. I was frozen. For a few moments after, his limbs twitched like a swatted fly before becoming motionless. Dead.
An ambulance was called but Jeremy was dead the moment he hit the ground. The party was quickly ended. I left without saying a word. Liliane apparently stayed the night there with Edward and Susan as, she never returned to the house that night.
For a week, a stayed alone in my house, waiting for a call. Eventually it rang, I picked up to hear my wife’s voice on the other end of the phone, I was glad to hear from her but that short moment of happiness was quickly snuffed out as I noticed her tone. She wasn’t calling me to give me good news. After a couple minutes of unnecessary build-up, she finally told me the reason for her call. But, I already knew what she was going to say, as the grinning man made his presence known again, smiling in the corner. She wanted a divorce. I didn’t blame her, I didn’t like being alone with me either. She had already arranged to stay at Edwards until the divorce was finalised.
The following month had me feeling lachrymose, defeated and utterly alone. Well, to be honest, it may have been more than a month, around week two of staying indoors I think I just lost track of time. One day the lack of sleep finally got to me, that was no way to live.
After the sun had sunken and the moon became bright, I finished the last of my brandy. Hours of contemplation later I finally decided which room I would do it in. I retrieved a bottle of painkillers from the bathroom and entered my bedroom. I sat on the floor and leaned my drunken head on the wall with the bed facing me. I cracked open the bottle. Just as expected, there he was. He stood in the dark corner across the room, still grinning, and still pleased. I looked at the bottle then back at him. I stared deep into his wide, piercing eyes. I looked back down. I smirked. Putting the bottle down I stood up. Looking the man up and down. “No”, I said. The man tilted his head, still grinning. “No” I repeated, but louder this time. “You don’t warn of tragedies you cause them, dad may not have seen it, but I do”. The man’s grin slowly turned to a cartoonish frown as I continued to defy him. “I know your endgame, once I kill myself, you’ll just move on to someone else. You think I’m gonna let you get to me but I won’t, I’m a businessman, I’d rather see you lose than win myself. I’ll lock myself away, get institutionalised, whatever it takes to keep you away from anyone else”. For once I felt as though I was winning. The mans bottom lip began to quiver and his eyes became misty. I kicked the bottle of painkillers away and they exploded all over the floor. And with that the man burst into tears, a childlike tantrum. Anguished wails erupted from him, his voice was deep, deeper than anything I’d heard before. The room shook violently as I cupped my ears. The sound was unbearable, like a boat scraping against an iceberg. His cries turned into a tormented bellow. His jaw was now wide and swinging low. The bedroom window burst as he let out one last tortured roar before, silence.
I took my hands off my ears and scanned the room. Nothing. He was gone. I’d won.
I’m going to be honest, my transition back to normalcy was complicated and a bit messy. I still didn’t leave the house for about a week. As happy as I was, I was still shaken. I got someone to come and repair the window, I told the guy a bird flew into it. That same day I got in contact with Jeremy’s relatives. I knew it wouldn’t compensate for what they had been through, but I made sure to leave each of them a hefty sum of money. They were hesitant to take money at first but after I told them who I was and how I knew Jeremy, they accepted. Eventually I started going back into work, if I hadn’t owned the company, I’m sure I would’ve been fired for being absent for so long.
After that I hired a therapist, you can’t go through what I went through without a little bit of mental trauma. The hardest part was yet to come, however. For a few weeks Liliane still refused to speak to me, we were divorced though so that was expected. But I had a good talk with Edward and I finally gave him a long overdue apology. He must’ve said something to Liliane because after that conversation she started paying me more attention. Before long we were spending time together again. Its wonderful how well people can get on once you stop being a total ass. Two months after that we started to become romantically involved again, and another two months after that, we remarried. And one year later we were welcoming a beautiful baby boy into our lives. Arnold, we called him. Those times were nothing but bliss.
We said hello to little baby Arnold five years ago now.
Edward had recently fallen under tough times so me and Liliane agreed to take him and five-year-old Arnold to Spain, a little family holiday.
Our private plane churned and growled has we boarded. Once in the plane, we all took our seats. It was just us and the staff, so we had anywhere to chose from. I sat beside the window placing Arnold by my side, Liliane sat opposite us placing her purse on the table. Edward sat a little way down the plane by himself, silently reading a book. I gave Arnold some candy to suck on before we took off, “hey hey what do we say when someone gives you something” I said gently. “thank you” Arnold said as he began munching down on the candy. Liliane chuckled at the cuteness of his reply. Shortly after, the plane took off and we were on our way. Out the window the houses and buildings below us shrank and shrank as we lifted off.
A few minutes passed and I was so caught up in my conversation with Liliane that I almost didn’t noticed the confused look on Arnolds little face. I nudged him with my elbow, “what’s the matter buddy” I asked. He looked up at me, “daddy is he coming with us too?” I tilted my head in confusion. “who Arnold?” I asked. He turned away from me, “the happy man” he said, pointing to an empty seat across the plane.
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Soft-Tissue Injuries Sports Betting Tips: How to Handicap Player Injuries THE WORST SIDEMEN INJURIES... NFL Injuries of 2018 (WARNING) Most Heartbreaking Moments In Football - YouTube

Daily updated injuries and suspensions information from more then 100 football, basketball and hockey leagues worldwide. Most of our information still can be accessed for free, but the best and most useful part of our content is available only by subscription. > Spain La Liga 2 injuries and suspensions CURRENT SPAIN LA LIGA 2 INJURIES & SUSPENSIONS LIST There are so many different leagues across Europe and the rest of the world to enjoy betting on, that getting as much information as you can get in order to guide your betting decisions is highly important. 24.7.20 English Premier League: Arsenal Injuries. Mikel Arteta has revealed that Shkodran Mustafi is likely to miss Arsenal's FA Cup final clash against Chelsea. The centre-back was absent for Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa having picked up a hamstring injury in the FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City. La Liga in Spain is one of the biggest football leagues in the world, with teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid commanding a huge fanbase. It means that betting on this league is very popular and we provide the latest team news for this fantastic division. Adama Traore (Wolverhampton Wanderers and Spain) Injury: Undisclosed. Potential return-to-play (RTP): Game week thirteen (AFC Bournemouth) 🗣 Traore completed 90 minutes against Aston Villa on Sunday but released a statement via his personal Twitter account within hours of the final whistle confirming his withdrawal from the national team. “It is a shame not to be in the call of the

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Football Moments With Tears & Heartbreaking Football respect, it's not just a game. It's passion and emotions for billions of hearts. Facebook: https://w... Some of these play are gruesome and look really bad from the 2018 NFL season. Hope for a fast and full recovery to all players hurt or injured in sports! We are analyzing technical team changes, latest status of teams, penalties, form state and injuries of football players, player’s private life, weather conditions of matches, betting news and ... One of the best Jai-Alai players in the world is featured in this 3min 31 sec video produced from a Nikon DX-CMOS sensor transfer in digitalization at 720dpi. On February 29th, 2012, in the 8th race at Charlestown Racetrack. A filly named Sharp Beauty brokedown causing a severe chain reaction that results in every horse losing its rider except #3 Miss ...