Manel Vich in the stadium where his voice has been heard so many times / GERMÁN PARGA-FCB

FC Barcelona is in mourning following the death of Manel Vich, the stadium announcer at the Camp Nou for almost sixty years. Because of his delicate health, the 78-year-old was unable to perform his regular duties for the last game at the Camp Nou, against Sporting, and on Friday 29 April, he sadly passed away.

Born in Barcelona on 12 March 1938, Manel Vich Sánchez became a club member at the age of 15. He made his living in the textiles industry, but his dream was always to become a radio presenter. Although he did spend some time covering Barça games on “La Veu de Catalunya” for Radio Hospitalet, he never got the break he was looking for. But from 1958 onwards, his name would forever be associated to the club he loved.

First at Les Corts

On the night of 10 September 1958, at the old Les Corts ground, a testimonial between Barça and Elche was played in honour of legendary striker César Rodríguez. At half-time, a voice suddenly broke out over the stadium loudspeaker system announcing the gifts that César had received. It was a 20 year old Manel Vich, who had been hired for the job by FCB head of staff Ricard Combas.

The idea was such a success that Combas offered Vich the opportunity to welcome the fans to every game from then on. And he continued to do so ever since. In six decades, Vich would only miss four games, two when he was undergoing surgery, once for his daughter’s wedding and for last week’s game with Sporting.

Defender of Catalan

For many years, and by governmental orders, Vich was obliged to make all of his announcements in the Spanish language. But on 3 September 1972, and for the first time ever, his voice came over the Camp Nou PA system in Catalan. “A child is lost and is waiting at the grandstand entrance”, he said. He was met with a furious response from government minister Tomás Garicano Goñi, who was in the president’s box, and Catalan would not be heard again in the stadium until 26 August 1975.

On 2 September 2012, forty years on from that moment and occasion of a league game with Valencia, Manel Vich looked back on the incident and said “it is an honour for me, after 40 years, to be able to carry on speaking my language, our language.”

Four years earlier, on 25 October 2008, and following a game with Almeria, FC Barcelona honoured fifty years of service as ‘the voice of the Camp Nou’ by presenting him with a commemorative plaque. And just a few weeks ago, he was also surprised by members of the Board of Directors, who wished him a happy 78th birthday.

Dearly loved

There was something enchanting about Manel Vich’s voice. It had a dignified an air of respect, politeness and responsibility. Whether it was to read out the team line-ups, name substitutions, make service announcements or call for a minute’s silence, his voice became synonymous with the experience of watching a game at the Camp Nou. It will never be the same without him. May he rest in peace.

Manel Vich, the voice of Barça | Manel Vich, la... by fcbarcelona

Three days of mourning

FC Barcelona has announced three days of mourning in honour of the death of Manel Vich. This weekend, all of the club’s teams shall observe a minute of silence and wear black armbands in his memory.

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