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The former Barça player Francesc Rodríguez, better known as "Rodri", has passed away, an example of a man who showed great love for and loyalty to FC Barcelona during the more than six decades that he was linked to the Club as a player and coach.
Born on 8 March 1934, Rodri was a strong, uncompromising central defender. He started his career in 1949 in the youth team at Europa before a spell at Penya Xics and then in the youth set up at Espanya Industrial, named Comtal from 1956 when they made their way to the First Division. Rodri continued at Comtal until their return to the Second Division at the end of the 1956/57 season, but at this point the Barça coaching staff had taken notice of his performances. In the summer of 1958 coach Helenio Herrera decided to add him to his first team squad.
Together with Olivella and Gràcia, Rodri was a one of the key members of the team's formidable defence under Herrera between 1958 and 1960. The arrival of Jesús Garay that year relegated him to the bench but in the 1961/62 season he won back his first team place. From 1963 onwards he suffered a series of injuries and in 1966 at the age of 32 he hung up his boots.
In June of that year the Club paid tribute to Rodri, alongside Gensana, Gràcia and Kocsis, with a testimonial match between Barça and a Uruguayan XI. Rodri made 236 appearances in a Barça shirt, winning the Fairs Cup in 1960 and 1966, two league titles in 1959 and 1960 and two Copas in 1959 and 1963.
Rodri then became part of the Barça coaching staff where he worked diligently for a long time. He coached the youth teams (1966-70) and then served as assistant for team coaches Vic Buckingham, Rinus Michels, Hennes Weissweiler and Laureano Ruiz between 1970 and 1976. He later moved to an administrative role coordinating youth football as well as fulfilling the role of expert scout, always in the service of his beloved Barça.