Profile of the legendary Barça keeper through a series of curious, and sometimes humorous, stories
Antoni Ramallets left us this Tuesday at the age of 89. Here’s a series of stories about the man who was known as “The cat with wings:”
On various occasions he mentioned why he decided to be a keeper: “I was fat when I was young and I didn’t like to run. One day I had to play football with my friends and everyone was in agreement: ‘This guy, he doesn’t like to run, he should be the keeper. Besides, he’s fat, that way he’ll cover more of the goal.’”
Ramallets might have been a bit conceited. Legend has it that he kept a mirror fixed to his right goal post. After a play, he would check to see if his hair had become uncombed.
A Barcelona journalist once wrote: “Ramallets, he missed them all.” The opposing team had only shot on goal once, and it had gone in. It is true, however, that Ramallets had the most thankless and difficult job in the world of football ... being Barça’s goalkeeper.
His fame soon extended beyond the borders of Spain and Catalonia. He once received an overseas letter that only read “Ramallets-España” accompanied by a sketch of the keeper in goal.
He always repeated the same ritual before a match: he went to his goal, lifted his hand gesturing a greeting, and then threw his gloves and hat into the back of the net.
In 1954, when he was in his prime, he featured in a film alongside Josep Samitier named “Eleven pairs of boots” directed by Francisco Rovira-Veleta.
One of the first things the controversial manager Helenio Herrera said to Ramallets when he arrived in Barcelona in 1958 was: “Some directors who know nothing about football told me that we need to find a keeper, that you’re getting old. What should I tell them?” Ramallets responded: “It’s true, they know nothing.” Then Herrera pulled out a list with the names of four goalkeepers on it and ripped it up.
A couple of days before he retired, he was given a letter signed by “the Blaugrana family.” Alone in the dressing room, Ramallets read the letter which simply said: “Without you Barça will never be the same.” The letter touched Ramallets deeply.
In the 1970s, after he had retired from football, he was an officer in a bank until he retired. It often was the case that Barça fans would go to the bank under the guise of requesting a small loan to engage the Barça legend in conversation.