KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —- Francisco Gento, the only man to have won the European Champions crown six times, has died at 88. He played almost his career at Real Madrid with whom he had been honorary president.
Gento, born on October 22, 1933, and nicknamed El Supersonico, was as much part of the entertainment in Real Madrid’s great team of the 1950s and 1960s as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.
His contribution was tearing holes in opposing defences from outside left but he also crucial goals.
Gento began with Racing Santander and was considered a player with pace but little else when Madrid signed him in 1953.
Fortunately, he found a perfect inside-left partner in Jose Hector Rial, who tutored Gento in the arts of the game.
Gento, apart from winning six Champions Cup medals, he was also runner-up in 1962 and 1964 and in the Cup-winners Cup in 1971.
The 1960 European Cup final at Hampden saw a star-studded Madrid side beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in front of a record attendance of 127,621 in what was then hailed as “the greatest game of all time.”
His club record of 23 trophies, which stood for more than 50 years, was equalled on Sunday by Real captain Marcelo when he came on as a substitute in the club’s Spanish Super Cup-winning victory.
Gento scored 256 goals in 800 games for Madrid, with whom he was Spanish champion on 12 occasions. He played 43 times for Spain, including the finals of the 1962 and 1966 World Cups.
A club statement said: “Real Madrid would like to express its condolences and its love and affection to his wife Mari Luz, his sons Francisco and Julio, his granddaughters Aitana and Candela and all his relatives, colleagues and loved ones.
“He will always be remembered by Madridistas and all football fans as one of their greatest.”
Tributes poured in from all around the world of football including from Brazil’s Pele, old team-mates such as Carlos Santillana and his long-time outside-left deputy Manolin Bueno.