MANILA, Philippines – One hundred years ago, a boy scored three goals in his first appearance for Futbol Club Barcelona.
He was only 15 years old.
Paulino Alcantara went on to score 369 goals during his 15-year football career with FC Barcelona – the most goals scored by any player in the club’s history.
And he was Filipino.
On February 25, 2012, exactly one century since Alcantara’s stunning hat-trick debut, the club celebrated the football legend born to a Spanish father and a Filipino mother.
The club’s official website hailed Alcantara for his “skills and goalscoring ability.”
Up to this day, Alcantara is the youngest player to have ever played or scored for the club in an official match.
The date was February 25, 1912 when Alcantara, for the first time, played as a starter for Barcelona, against Catala Sporting Club in the Catalonian Championship. Alcantara stunned the crowd with his record-setting debut of three goals. Barca won that game 9-0.
“Those were early days for the game,” said the website. “And there were only about a hundred people there to witness the incredible sight of this tiny child able to shoot the ball with such immense power.”
Alcantara continued to amaze with his football skills, particularly the strength and power of his kicks.
In 1919, seven years since his debut, Alcantara scored a historic goal coined the “police goal,” named after a shot he took in a game against Real Sociedad.
Alcantara kicked a ball towards the goal so hard – but a stray policeman got in the way. The shot was so strong however, that both the policeman and the ball “ended up in the back of the net.”
By 1922, Alcantara was known as Trencaxarxes, which literally translates into net-breaker, “after one of his shots actually managed to pierce the net” in a game against France.
The shot was unforgettable.
“For many years after, children from Barcelona would recall that moment and would wish to do the same as the man from the Philippines,” read the website.
Beyond the field
Alcantara eventually left the sport to become a full-time doctor in 1927.
Born in Ilolilo, Alcantara moved to Barcelona when he was only 3 years old and started playing for the youth team in 1910 at only thirteen years of age. Two years later, he was a starter for the Barca first team.
Alcantara moved back to the Philippines in 1916 with his parents, and in 1917, he played for the Philippine national football team at the Far Eastern Championship games in Tokyo. He played a key role in the Philippines’ 15-2 win over Japan, the nation’s highest win in the history of international football.
Barcelona did not win any championship trophies during the time Alcantara was gone.
He moved back to Spain in 1917.
The football legend is described by the website as an “extraordinarily skinny looking player on the outside…built like a train within, and his ability to strike the ball hard astounded everyone that ever saw him play.”
His “white handkerchief always hanging out of his shorts” and his “appealing” looks also made him “the first major media figure in FC Barcelona history.” Because Alcantara was slender and young in appearance, he was popular with fans and was “the first star of the club in the golden ages of the twenties.”
The Filipino footballer died in Barcelona in 1964.
But he is far from forgotten.
Federation Iinternationale de Football Association (FIFA) named Alcantara as the best Asian player of all time in 2007, while FC Barcelona regards him as the best “symbol or hero of the Philippine’s footballing past” – a fitting figure at a time when the Philippines is vigorously pushing and promoting the sport of football. – Rappler.com