René Victor Fenouillère, the first French player in FC Barcelona history
The midfielder on loan from Espanyol in 1903 died in combat a few years later in the First World War, whilst fighting for the French army
René Victor Fenouillère was the first French player to wear the FC Barcelona shirt, and he did it at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was born in Portbail (Lower Normandy) on 22nd of October 1882, and after playing for US Avranches, he spent some time in England, where he devoted himself exclusively to the sport of rugby.
However, he hadn’t forgotten how to play football, and in the 1902/03 season he played for RCD Espanyol, where he was recognised as a top class footballer in midfield. So much so that on 8 March 1903, in the magazine ‘Los Deportes' he was described as "a player with proven superiority over the rest" at the same level as Joan Gamper.
That same day, René, which was his football name, played against Barça in Horta, in the Barcelona Cup, which ended in a 2-2 draw and the rivalry between the teams caused disturbances in the stands and on the pitch.
Three matches with Barça
Interestingly, just two days later Fenouillère played his first game with Barça, on loan from Espanyol, against a team made up from the of crew of the Galliope, an English ship anchored in the Barcelona port. Barça won the match 1-0, and it was not the only experience of René for Barça in 1903, as he played again on May 28th away at Salut (3-2) and on the 27th of July when Barcelona defeated Mataroni away 8-2, with a René goal. It was a strange game where Mataroní only had seven players, and Barcelona lined up with eight
Death in the First World War
After his time at Barça, Rene Fenouillère played for the Parisian clubs Racing Club and Red Star, and played with the French national team in 1908 at the Olympic Games in London. During World War I he fought with the French army and was killed at the front, north of Reims on 4thof November 1916.