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The life of Rafael Moreno 'Pichichi' Aranzardi | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

PICHICHI! – The incredible story of Spain’s greatest goalscorer

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored an incredible 41 times in 34 la liga games last season, a magnificent feat which won him the celebrated ‘Pichichi’ trophy awarded to the Spanish league’s top goal scorer each season.

The Portuguese maestro’s impressive haul makes him one of the deadliest players in the history of La Liga and strikes fear into defences up and down Spain and beyond, however the Real Madrid star has  some way to go until he emulates the man that the famous trophy honours.

The name Rafael Moreno Aranzardi may not be familiar to most, but his nickname, Pichichi (which means ‘little duck’ in Spanish) will be far more familiar to fans of the Spanish game.

Born in the Basque city of Bilbao in 1892, incidently the same year that saw the birth of Liverpool Football Club and the first published rules for the sport of Basketball,  the young Aranzardi had a relatively privileged upbringing.

His father was mayor of Bilbao and the city was in the midst of a transformation, the population increased eight fold between 1880 and the turn of the century. Regulated Football was not yet widespread however, as the British workers who flooded industrial Spain introduced their favourite pastime.

Despite what fans of Athletic Club may tell you however, it was Recreativo de Huelva who became Spain’s first foot-ball (as it was known then) club following their formation in 1889.

Aranzardi’s hometown club were formed in 1898 (although you will be sure to get into a long debate with anyone who supports the famous San Mamés club on this topic). Due to the fierce loyalties associated with the Basque Country, Aranzardi was only ever going to play football for one club and it was no surprise then that he joined Athletic Club in 1911 aged 19.

The diminutive striker certainly made his mark with the supporters and became a firm favourite. Sporting an iconic white headband he was instantly recognisable whenever he played and soon began to attract a legion of fans.

At the time there was no league system in Spain. La Liga would not be established until 1928. Other than regional championships such as the Campionat de Catalunya, the only major trophy was the Copa Del Rey and Aranzardi’s first competitive taste of Copa Del Rey “success” was in 1913,  helping the team reach the final.

Unfortunately they lost 1-0 to Racing Club de Irun, however he soon return for the trophy and  helped Athletic lift their fifth Copa del Rey after a 2-1 win over Espana FC the following year.

Los Leones went on to win the next two as well in 1915 and 1916. Most memorably for Pichichi would be his brace in the 1915 final in a 5-0 win over Espanyol.

Aranzardi’s sensational goal scoring abilities naturally meant he was part of the fledgling Spanish National Team and he played in the first ever international that the country participated in and went on to win four more caps.

Tragically Pichichi’s life was cut drastically short and he died in 1922 aged just 29, after contracting Typhus.

In his final season Aranzardi lifted his fourth Copa del Rey and played his last game of football with a truly phenomenal goal scoring record – scoring 468 goals in just 287 games. This includes 10 goals in 17 in the Copa and 68 in 72 in the Regional Championship.

Rafael Moreno Aranzardi footballing career may have spanned just a decade this legendary goalscorer’s legacy lives on each season with the trophy that bares his name.




2 Comments

  1. Jaffa

    2 March, 2012 at 11:52

    Great story Archie. I wasn’t really aware of who Pichichi was apart from that he played for Bilbao. His goals scoring record was amazing!

  2. Dewey

    2 July, 2012 at 03:18

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