MADRID: Former Spain and Bilbao midfielder Angel Maria Villar has been re-elected yet again and unopposed for a seventh term as president of the Spanish football federation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

“He is the most successful sporting leader on the planet and perhaps in the entire galaxy,” said UEFA president Michel Platini who attended the general assembly of the RFEF.

Platini and Villar are both vice-presidents of world federation while Villar is also a vice-president of UEFA and has been talked of as possibly the next president if the Frenchman takes over the leadership of FIFA from Sepp Blatter in 2015.

“I’m very happy and proud to be again in  country which breathes football, which lives for football,” added Platini. “Angel Maria Villar has been president for almost a quarter of a century which has seen work, battles, courage but, above all else, success without end.

“All this success creates envy and, sometimes, criticism but that’s just a fact of life.”

Critics of Villar had failed in attempts to prevent the election going ahead.

The 61-year-old was elected first in 1988 when he scored a clear 34-vote win over Eduardo Herrera. This means he has been in command for 24 years, since before some of the new members of the world and European title-winning national team were born.

Villar is often underrated by outsiders despite having astutely balanced between the different centres of power within the Spanish game represented by Barcelona, by Real Madrid and by the rest. Within FIFA, he has proved a loyal supporter of Sepp Blatter. At FIFA Congress in Zurich last June Villar made a characteristically personal, if rambling, speech in support of the world federation’s controversial and under-fire president.

Born on January 21, 1950, Villar scored three goals in 22 appearances for Spain in the 1970s. He also scored 11 goals in 361 games for Athletic Bilbao, his only senior club, with whom he won the Spanish cup in 1973 and was UEFA runner-up in 1977.

In 1978 he was one of the founders of the Spanish players’ union. Three years later he retired and rose swiftly up the administrative and political ladder. He was elected president of the Vizcaya football association and then of the Spanish federation a mere seven years after having retired from playing.

Villar has been a vice-president of UEFA since 1992 and of FIFA since 2000.