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Enrique Castro 'Quini' González (Oviedo, 23.9.49 - 27.2.18) was a serial Pichichi during his football career, and in 1980, after scoring 215 goals in 380 games for Sporting Gijón, FC Barcelona would pay the Asturian club 82 million pesetas for his services.
Although he was 31 years of age by then, he still knew where the goal was and top scored in his first two seasons at Camp Nou. However it was during that time that Quini, his family, FC Barcelona and Spanish football experienced one of their darkest ever days.
The date was Sunday, March 1, 1981 and Hércules had been put to the sword at Camp Nou. Quini had scored twice in a 6-0 win and left the stadium on a high. Making his way to the airport to collect his family, he was kidnapped at gunpoint by a group who would call themselves the Batallon Catalano-Espanyol.
Quini's wife, unaware of the drama, filed a missing persons report, and a day later La Vanguardia would receive a call from one of Quini’s captors. “The team cannot win the ‘separatists’ league,” it's alleged they remarked.
A week later, Barça were due to play Atlético Madrid and Quini had been taken so he couldn't play in the match against the then league leaders. Once the news filtered out, Barça's players went on the record to say that they weren't in the right frame of mind to play the match.
It took three long days before the kidnapper's ransom demands were known. Local police took their time in assessing its validity, whilst club president, Josep Lluís Núñez, and Quini’s team-mates, José Ramón Alexanko, looked after his wife Maria and their children. It was hardly ideal preparation for Barça’s biggest match of the season
After a 1-0 defeat at the Vicente Calderón, things went from bad to worse on the pitch, Barça taking just one point from their next five games. After three weeks, the kidnappers spoke to Alexanko and advised that 100 million pesetas paid into a Swiss bank would ensure that Quini would be released unharmed.
Chief of police, Francisco Álvarez Sánchez and his Swiss counterpart deposited the funds into an account for Victor Manuel Díaz Esteban, and in Geneva on 25 March he withdrew just one million pesetas. The lead helped them to find Quini holed up in a garage in Zaragoza where the three unemployed Spanish kidnappers were arrested.
Incredibly, just a few weeks after his release, Quini was back scoring goals again, including two against Sporting Gijón which helped Barça to win the Copa del Rey. Despite missing a month of the season, he’d still end up as the club's top scorer.
On 15 January 1982, his kidnappers were sentenced, and just nine days later FC Barcelona’s 3,000th goal would be scored... by Quini, of course.
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