We always admire the goals made by the greatest football players of all time from the fancy plays of Pele to the showboating style of Ronaldinho, the prolific scoring touch of Diego Maradona to the technical skills of Johann Cruyff. These players have captivated the hearts and minds of football fans through the years. The rising popularity of our own national football team, the Azkals, have provided us new sports heroes to cheer on. The likes of James and Phil Younghusband, Aly Borromeo, Chieffy Caligdong, Jason de Jong, Neil Etheridge, and all up-and-coming players have made us football fans in a country that has long love affair with basketball.



Yet few Filipinos realized that there was a time when a Filipino captivated the football pitches of Spain. He scored goals left and right that a legend grew with him. Dubbed as the "net breaker," Paulino Alcantara played for FC Barcelona in the formative years of Spanish football. Never in our wildest dream that a man from Iloilo plied his ware on the pitch and became one of the leading goalscorers in Spanish football thereby enshrining him as our original galactico. Perhaps, Lionel Messi may try to catchup the great Paulino's goalscoring record by the time all things are said and done.


Before the World Cup was started in 1930, Alcantara has already represented both the Philippines and Spain in international competitions. Echoing the famous Barcelona line "Mes que un club," Alcantara is more than just a player - he is a one-making goal-scoring machine as he piled up goals after goals in the years where football was much more physical than the football we use to see injury simulations and penalty diving exhibitions. Indeed, his monicker really stuck in him as he is said to have rip the goal's net because of the tremendous power of his goal-scoring kicks. He was the team's valuable player and Barcelona failed to win a title when he returned to the Philippines in 1916 to resume his medical studies.



The half-Spanish Alcantara was born to a Spanish colonial military officer and a local Ilongga mother in October 7, 1896. When he moved to Spain, he debuted with FC Galeno at the tender age of 15 where he is believed to be the youngest player ever to score for the club in a game against Catala SC on February 25, 1912. In the Championat de Catalunya, his Barcelona side won 9-0 powered by his three spectacular goals. His team went on to win five Copa del Rey and 10 Championat de Catalunya titles during his entire career. Aside from that, he also led the Bohemian Sporting Club to two Philippine titles in 1917 and 1918.


In the time before the FIFA World Cup, Alcantara made his legend known with Catalunya in 1915 where he played for six games in 1924 with four goals. He represented the Philippines in the 1917 Far Eastern Games in Tokyo where they bamboozled Japan to a 15-2 scoreline. That was the greatest performance of the Philippine football team, which remains unmatched to this day. Three years later, he was chosen to play for the Spanish national team in the 1920 Summer Olympics but he was unable to play because he was to take his final medical exams. On his 25th birthday, Alcantara scored two goals in his Spanish national team debut with a win over Belgium. He eventually made five appearances for the national team and scored six goals. He retired in 1927 to become a doctor.


To this day, we may be still arguing on who is the greatest player ever - Pele or Maradona. But if we are to discuss about the greatest Filipino player of all time then there is no doubt that Paulino Alcantara is the one!



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{picture#https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AgIZYN7u_Hg/VZvLmrA0hpI/AAAAAAAARt8/mscbLJ1All4/profile%2Bpic.jpg} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#http://www.facebook.com/istoryadista} {twitter#http://www.twitter.com/jpthehistorian} {google#http://plus.google.com/+JPSakuragi}
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