The tag “good player, better person” is a commonly used one. We give awards or valors to footballers who have barely contributed anything to the sport or to their club. However, all of these superlatives aren’t enough for the legendary Spanish forward of the 1970s and ‘80s, Enrique Castro, or “Quini”. Born in Asturias and a citizen of the world because of his accomplishments, “The Wizard” as he was also known, is the classic example of the intimate relationship between fans and players—the epitome of friendliness.

Talking about Quini means talking about goals. He was a classic forward, an out-and-out goalscorer who looked like your next-door neighbor. However, behind his innocent appearance—a peculiar one for an elite sportsman—hid a footballer who dominated the record books: devastating with his right foot, a fantastic header of the ball who wouldn’t hesitate to shoot with his left. He scored hundreds of goals of all types, from spectacular ones to tap-ins. Although, his celebrations were always discreet and respectful to rival teammates and supporters, something that is lacking in today’s game.

His formation as a player came at Los Salesianos de Llaranes, and he moved on to Bosco Ensidesa as a teenager. In the 1967/68 season, at just 18 years old, he signed for Endinesa’s first team that played in Spain’s third division at the time. His goalscoring record didn’t go unnoticed by Sporting Gijón’s scouting team which recruited him in 1968. A year later, Sporting were promoted to the first division, and Quinocho won the first of his three pichichis as a Sporting player.

In the summer of 1980, now 31 years old, he was signed by FC Barcelona in exchange for 80 million pesetas (about €480,000). His signing was viewed with contempt by some culés. They were aware of Quini’s ability but thought he was too old. The Asturian quickly seduced the Barça fans with his goals and commitment. He had the soci (known for demanding the best from Barcelona players) in his pocket. Beyond his great performances, two pichichis and five titles with Barça, what really made him great were his human qualities. The love supporters always felt for him increased around the time he was kidnapped on March 1, 1981, after he had scored two goals against Hércules. This was a very stressful time and people showed their support for Quini’s family. For 24 days, the duration of his kidnapping, all culés and the whole football world were on tenterhooks. After his release, he only had nice words for his captors and withdrew the police report against them, which further enhanced his figure on a personal level.

Quini lost weight and energy as a result of that kidnapping, but he didn’t forget how to score. Within three months of his release, he played the Copa del Rey final against his beloved Sporting Gijón. He got the first two goals of the match, which secured the victory for the blaugrana. He left Can Barça in 1984 and returned to Sporting to play the last three seasons of his career. After his retirement, he remained linked with the Asturian team and worked in various directorial capacities. Despite tragedy striking in the form of sickness, and the sad death of his brother, he has always looked forward with strength and a smile, setting a great example for everyone.

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