Amancio Amaro, legend of Real Madrid and a Houdini with boots, dies | Sports

The sublimation of dribbling had an eternal sorcerer in Spanish football: Amancio Amaro Varela. A Galician conjurer who died this Tuesday at the age of 83 who made an eminent career in the art of the unexpected. A vintage footballer for all eras, no matter how much those houdinis with boots, hypnotic dribblers like Stanley Matthews, Garrincha or George Best, are in extinction, today referred to Messi, Neymar, Vinicius…

Born in A Coruña on October 16, 1939, Amancio soon left his mark in his four seasons at Deportivo, with whom he won promotion to the First Division in 1962, with 25 goals in 26 games. Such was the echo of him that Santiago Bernabéu himself risked it to enlist him in Real Madrid, then, a club with mold in the treasury. But the totemic president, behind the back of the reluctant board of directors and in competition with Barça and Atlético, secretly launched himself after Amancio, whom he saw as the footballer called to lead the transition from Di Stéfano’s already twilight Madrid. About 10 million pesetas (60,000 euros) and four players was the cost of the operation. Bernabéu, clinical as almost always, affiliated an excellent player for 14 seasons.

The lace was not easy for him. Di Stéfano was still a lot of Di Stéfano and Miguel Muñoz, the coach, changed his position. He arrived as “eight”, driving, but they soon parked him at the end. He liked the previous position better, where he could channel the game. Orillado, “they didn’t always remember one”, he used to say with a Galician retranca. In time he too would be almost a battering ram. Because he was not only a majestic trapeze artist for dribbling and caracoleo, for those feints as if he had lizards on his waist. Amancio, fast and competitive like few others, was so intimate with goals that he was top scorer in 1969 and 1970. He retired as the fourth top Real Madrid scorer after Di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento. His hallmark: 155 goals in 471 games.

His magnetic ability to make bows with his feet caused him much trouble. Not only because a sector saw him as a sucker. That wasn’t the worst. The serious thing was the butchers who mowed down his legs unceremoniously, which took Amancio not only to the infirmary, but also to football, protesting against the little shielding from refereeing. On June 8, 1974, in a Cup quarterfinal match played at Los Cármenes, the Paraguayan Pedro Fernández slashed his right thigh with a chilling spike of studs. The defender did not see a card, but before the popular clamor he was sanctioned with 15 games. “Amancio never forgave me”, the Paraguayan would say in EL PAÍS in October 2019. The Real Madrid player, already 34 years old, was never again the Witcher that he was. A player of reckless courage, he recounted that they beat him up to the top of his legs so that he would not limp.

With a tremendous record (nine Leagues, three Cups, one European Cup and one Euro Cup), he was more proud of nothing than the Sixth Orejona. In post-Di Stéfano Madrid, in Heysel, on May 11, 1966, 11 Spanish “ye-yés” lined up against Partizán Belgrade: Araquistáin, Pachín, De Felipe, Zoco, Sanchís, Pirri, Velázquez, Serena, Amancio, Grosso and Gento. It was precisely Amancio —with five goals in seven games, top scorer in that edition of the European Cup together with Yugoslavian Hasanagic—, who equalized Vasovic’s goal after 70 minutes. Soon after, Serena sang the sixth white bingo.

Also with 11 Spaniards as recruits, Amancio (42 caps) was capital in the European Championship won by Spain against the USSR in Chamartín (1964). And that was attributed by mistake to the pass to Marcelino in the decisive goal. Forty-four years it took TVE to assume the blunder of the NO-DO. Lacking plans, they fitted a previous center of Amancio himself, when in reality the assistant had been Pereda.

Four years later, such was his universal reputation, that FIFA selected him for a match against Brazil at the Maracanã on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the first FIFA world title. canarinha in 1958. In Spain, where Amancio and Iribar were the great pillars of national football, it was an explosion of joy. That Wednesday, November 6, 1968, the man from A Coruña lined up with the Russian Yashin, the Germans Beckenbauer, Overath, the Hungarian Albert and the Yugoslavian Djazic, among others. Opposite, Pelé and company, who won 2-1. Amancio, riddled with gorings, showed little. But there was the photo of him with O Rei.

The change of needles of Amancio and Di Stéfano would be repeated on the benches. The first was the manager of the best Castilla in history, Second Division champion in the 83-84 season, and the one who cradled the Quinta del Buitre. Di Stéfano, coach of the first team, had the final push. Already as the first coach, Amancio did not do well at all. He returned to the club with his great friend Florentino Pérez, as adviser, ambassador and finally honorary president after Di Stéfano and Gento. Like those, Amancio, a lifelong icon of Madrid. A Sorcerer of those for whom football deserves glory.

Alfredo di Stéfano (left) and Amancio Amaro (right), greet each other in the presence of the president of Real Madrid, Luis de Carlos, after formalizing the official commitment of both as coaches of Real Madrid and Castilla, respectively, in 1982.
Alfredo di Stéfano (left) and Amancio Amaro (right), greet each other in the presence of the president of Real Madrid, Luis de Carlos, after formalizing the official commitment of both as coaches of Real Madrid and Castilla, respectively, in 1982.


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