|Full name||Francisco Gento López|
|Date of birth||21 October 1933|
|Place of birth||Guarnizo, Spain|
|Date of death||18 January 2022(aged 88)|
|Place of death||Madrid, Spain|
|Height||1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)|
|SD Nueva Montaña|
|Unión Club Astillero|
|Real Madrid Castilla|
|*Club domestic league appearances and goals|
Francisco "Paco" Gento López (21 October 1933 – 18 January 2022) was a Spanish footballer who played as an outside left. A fast runner, Gento was referred to as the "Gale of the Cantabrian Sea" (Spanish: La Galerna del Cantábrico) in reference to his speed down the wing. He was voted by IFFHS (International Federation of Football History and Statistics) as the greatest Spanish footballer and 30th greatest world footballer of the 20th century.
Gento began his career at Racing Santander in 1952 and moved to Real Madrid the following season. He appeared in a joint record eight European Cup finals, winning a record six, as well as winning a record 12 La Liga titles. In a 14-year international career, Gento earned 43 caps for Spain, playing at the World Cup in 1962 and 1966.
Gento debuted in the Primera División with Racing Santander in the 1952–53 season. He was still playing mostly for the B team at Santander when a flu virus saw him promoted to the first team ahead of a home game against Real Madrid. Such was his performance in the match, that Madrid signed him three days later. La Galerna del Cantábrico (The Gale of the Cantabrian Sea), as he was known, played outside left and was noted for his exceptional pace, his skills with the ball and his scoring prowess from the midfield position. In 1967, following Alfredo Di Stéfano's departure and Ferenc Puskás's retirement, he became the captain of a young side, known in Spain as Ye-yé, because of the popularity of The Beatles at that time.
Gento did not score in his first season and was under pressure from club president Santiago Bernabéu. The president was won over by Di Stéfano's argument "he is quick and hits the ball like a cannon. That can't be learned, it's innate. We can teach him the rest".
Among other honors, Gento won the European Cup a record six times with Real Madrid between 1955 and 1966, being the only Madrid player to figure in all of the wins. He contributed with 31 goals in 88 European Cup career matches.
Gento played in eight European Cup finals, with a 6–2 record, and he also appeared in a ninth European final appearance in the 1970–1971 Cup Winners' Cup final that Real Madrid lost to Chelsea. He holds this record jointly with Milan's Paolo Maldini, who has an inferior 5–3 record. Gento's legendary Real Madrid teammate, Alfredo Di Stéfano's 5–2 record comes third.
Domestically, Gento collected 12 La Liga titles during his time with Madrid. He scored 128 times in 428 league appearances for the club, a strong return for a winger, especially as he was often providing goals for teammates Di Stéfano and Puskás. He won 23 trophies for the club, which remained an outright record until equalled by Marcelo days before Gento's death.
After he retired from football in 1971, he coached various lower-league teams, such as Castilla, Castellón, Palencia, and Granada. In 1978–79, he led Palencia to promotion to the Segunda División for the first time in their history. He later took up a role as an ambassador for Real Madrid throughout Europe, alongside Di Stéfano. After Di Stéfano died in 2014, Gento became the honorary president of the club.
Gento played for the Spain national team from 1955 to 1969, winning 43 caps and scoring five times. His debut came on 18 May 1955 in a 1–1 draw with England in Madrid. He was initially known as "La tercera G" (the third G) for succeeding Agustín Gaínza and Guillermo Gorostiza in his position. His rival for his position was his friend Enrique Collar of Atlético Madrid, and the pair played together at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile.
In 1964 European Nations' Cup qualification, Gento was included alongside Collar under new manager José Villalonga, but was dropped after a home defeat to Belgium on 1 December 1963; Carlos Lapetra took his place for the finals which Spain won. Due to improved form and fitness in the second half of the 1965–66 season, he was recalled for the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, playing all three games of a group-stage elimination.
Shortly before turning 36, Gento was given his 43rd and final cap on 15 October 1969 by his former teammate László Kubala, in a 6–0 win over already eliminated Finland in 1970 FIFA World Cup qualification. He ended short of the record of 46 caps by Ricardo Zamora.
Personal life and death
Gento's two younger brothers, Julio (1939–2016) and Antonio (1940–2020) also played football professionally; the latter played for Real Madrid, too, but they were not as successful as their older brother Francisco.
His nephews were also athletes – José Luis Llorente and Toñín Llorente played basketball, whilst Paco Llorente and Julio Llorente were footballers. Grand-nephew Marcos Llorente, son of Paco Llorente, is also a footballer.
Gento died in his sleep on 18 January 2022, at the age of 88.
Real Madrid announced in a statement, "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." FIFA President Gianni Infantino said, “I am deeply saddened to learn of Paco Gento’s passing today at the age of 88. One of the greatest players of his generation, Paco leaves behind a lifetime of memories for all fans of football, but especially those of Spain and Real Madrid. Our thoughts and best wishes go to Paco’s family and friends, to Real Madrid, to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and to all those who treasure memories of this great player.”
Regarded as one of the greatest Spanish players of all time and one of the greatest ever players in his position, Gento was an extremely fast left winger, which made him an effective assist provider with high accuracy in his crosses.
|Club||Season||League||Copa del Rey||Europe[a]||Other||Total|
|Racing Santander||1952–53||Primera División||10||2||4||1||—||—||14||3|
|Real Madrid||1953–54||Primera División||17||0||4||0||—||—||21||0|
- Scores and results list Spain's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Gento goal.
|1||14 October 1959||Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid, Spain||Poland||3–0||3–0||1960 European Nations' Cup qualifying|
|2||2 April 1961||Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid, Spain||France||2–0||2–0||Friendly|
|3||30 October 1963||Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland||Northern Ireland||1–0||1–0||1964 European Nations' Cup qualifying|
|4||23 June 1966||Riazor, A Coruña, Spain||Uruguay||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|5||31 May 1967||San Mamés, Bilbao, Spain||Turkey||2–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 1968 qualifying|
- La Liga (12): 1953–54, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69
- Copa del Generalísimo: 1961–62, 1969–70
- European Cup (6): 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1965–66
- Intercontinental Cup: 1960
- World Soccer World XI: 1960, 1961, 1962
- Golden Foot Legends Award: 2004
- World Soccer: The 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time
- IFFHS Legends
- Most La Liga titles: 12
- Most European Cup titles: 6
- Most European Cup final appearances: 8 (tied with Paolo Maldini)
- Paco Gento at BDFutbol
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- "Paco Gento, Honorary President of Real Madrid". Realmadrid.com. 23 October 2016.
- Ball 2011, 135
- Ortego, Enrique (19 April 2014). "Gento: "Lo que hizo Bale ya lo hacía yo"" [Gento: "I already did what Bale is doing now"]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- Ball 2011, 136
- Siguero, Santiago (18 January 2022). "Di Stéfano, a Santiago Bernabéu sobre Paco Gento: "Le enseñaremos"" [Di Stéfano, to Santiago Bernabéu on Paco Gento: "We will teach him"]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 January 2022.
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- "The emperors of Athens". These Football Times. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
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- "Marcelo alcanza a Gento" [Marcelo reaches Gento]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 16 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- Sánchez Barreda, Julio J. (30 March 2020). "El día en que el Castilla ganó al Palencia de Paco Gento en el Bernabéu" [The day that Castilla beat Paco Gento's Palencia in the Bernabéu] (in Spanish). ADN Blanco. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- "Murió Francisco Gento, leyenda del Real Madrid" [Francisco Gento, Real Madrid legend, died]. El Gráfico (in Spanish). 18 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- Relaño, Alfredo (3 September 2017). "Gento, el caso Villa de los sesenta" [Gento, the sixties equivalent of Villa]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- "IFFHS". www.iffhs.com. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- "Fallece María Antonia Gento, madre de la saga Llorente". AS.com. 10 January 2003.
- "Real Madrid - Levante: Debutó con el Madrid Marcos Llorente, sobrino-nieto de Gento". Diario AS. 17 October 2015.
- Muere Francisco Gento, leyenda del Real Madrid y único futbolista con 6 Copas de Europa (in Spanish)
- "Official Announcement: Passing of Francisco Gento | Real Madrid CF". Real Madrid C.F. - Web Oficial. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- "Spain, Real Madrid great Paco Gento dies aged 88". www.fifa.com. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
- "Full-throttle Paco, Real's winning legend". FIFA.com. Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "Francisco "Paco" Gento" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "Gento | Real Madrid CF". Real Madrid C.F. - Web Oficial. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
- Relaño, Alfredo (3 September 2017). "Gento, el caso Villa de los sesenta". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- Gil-Vernet, Pepe (18 January 2022). "Los 23 títulos de Paco Gento" [Paco Gento's 23 titles]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- "ERIC BATTY’S WORLD XI – THE SIXTIES" Retrieved on 29 November 2015
- "Legends". Golden Foot. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "World Soccer 100 Players of the Century". www.topendsports.com. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- "IFFHS announce the 48 football legend players". IFFHS. 25 January 2016. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "He won 12 league titles, another all-time record. | Real Madrid CF". Real Madrid C.F. - Web Oficial. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
- Saffer, Paul (18 May 2016). "Reyes's fifth win: top UEFA club cup winners". UEFA. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- "Champions League final records and statistics". UEFA. 1 June 2019. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
- Ball, Phil (2011) Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football. WSC Books.
- Paco Gento – FIFA competition record (archived)
- Paco Gento at BDFutbol
- Paco Gento at National-Football-Teams.com
- Francisco Gento at Real Madrid (in English and Spanish)
- Biography at Real Madrid Fans (in Spanish)
- National team data (in Spanish)
- International Appearances and Goals at RSSSF
- Goals in European Cups at RSSSF