Patrick O’Connell was FC Barcelona’s manager between 1935-1940 during the difficult Spanish Civil War years. He died penniless and destitute in London on 27 February 1959.
Penya Blaugrana London has joined the campaign organized by the Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund to raise awareness and monies to restore his unmarked paupers grave in North London and build statues and/or busts at each of the clubs he played for and managed.
Johan Cruyff , Franz Beckenbauer, Martin O’Neill, Ronald Koeman, David Beckham and Luis Figo are just some of the football luminaries who have also expressed their support for the campaign.
One of football’s forgotten heroes, were he alive today, “Don Patricio’s” achievements would be unprecedented. The former Ireland and Manchester United captain who saved Barcelona from extinction, also guided Real Betis to their only La Liga title.
The Irishman moved to the Catalan capital as a result of his success in Andalusia and as Spain was edging closer to civil war, thus positioning himself firmly on the wrong side of Franco. With the political and economic situation worsening, Barcelona were struggling to stay afloat. They asked some of their foreign players, including the Uruguayan forward Enrique Fernández and Hungary’s Elemer Berkessy, not to return from holidays home. O’Connell was asked to stay and he agreed.