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Helenio Herrera: the HH myth

Helenio Herrera has been one of the most outstanding coaches in the history of Barça and world football. I take this opportunity to recall a report published some time ago where there are some anecdotes of the great HH, Helenio Herrera, which are perhaps not the best known, which go beyond the apocryphal "we will win without getting off the bus" or the manipulated " with ten you play better than with eleven ". Herrera was an internationally renowned figure, one of the best coaches of all time in Barça history. And above all, a sensational motivator.

Herrera was compared to Napoleon

“When Madrid arrived in Malaga, I said to my boys: 'They are better, they have superior technique, but you are stronger, faster and have more courage and will than they. What use will their technique be to them if you are always the first to get to the ball? '" Helenio Herrera, born in Argentina in 1910 - years later he falsified his birth certificate to show that he came to the world in 1916 - was Madrid's nemesis. Not only did he snatch the European Cup from him in 1964 (and accelerated Di Stéfano's departure from the white club), but he also became Madrid's toughest rival in Spanish football. Playing at home, Herrera's teams (Valladolid, At. Madrid, Malaga, Seville and Barcelona) did not usually yield a point to the almighty Madrid. Herrera's talk to the Málaga footballers, one almost spring Sunday in 1953, is the masterful example of the persuasive skills of the Spanish-Argentine coach, because it produced a scandal result, six goals to zero, between two teams of very different qualities. . It was one of the great afternoons of glory for HH, who at that time already enjoyed a well-deserved prestige in Spain after having won two consecutive leagues with Atlético de Madrid. With five different teams under his command, Herrera directed thirteen league games, on his own field, against Real Madrid. The statistical summary is overwhelming: twelve wins and only one loss. He knew how to prepare these very special matches, which, in the case of a Barcelona-Madrid, are now called “classics”. Herrera was a master of psychology, specialized in taking

One piece of advice: "They are better, but what use is their technique to them if you get to the ball earlier?"

advantage of even adverse positions. "My psychic influence -" explained "the Magician" - is based above all on the justified confidence that the men of my team have in me. When I was training at the Stade Français, half an hour before an important match started, one of my defenders came to tell me that I couldn't play because I had a 38-degree fever. And I had no one to replace him. ‘38 degree fever? -I told-. Formidable! All great athletes hit the marks when they have a fever! You will play the game of your life, boy! 'And so it was.

The occurrences of Helenio Herrera have no end and they also reach that Barcelona-Real Madrid that, in the sixties as in the twenty-first century, is special. The first classic in the HH curriculum arrived on October 26, 1958, in a packed Camp Nou. Let's take a stand: after six days, Madrid is the leader with six victories. Fearsome. But Barcelona is not far behind: five wins, a draw, eighteen goals in favor and only one conceded. The azulgranas present a great team: Ramallets, Olivella, Rodri, Gràcia, Flotats, Segarra, Tejada, Kubala, Evaristo, Suárez and Czibor. But Madrid is also a break and tear: Alonso, Marquitos, Santamaría, Lesmes II, Santisteban, Zárraga, Kopa, Rial, Di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento. But Barcelona won without discussion: four to zero (three from Evaristo and one from Tejada). How? Herrera wrote down his tactic: “We played at that fast pace that Madrid disliked so much, forcing them to defend themselves, something the super champions have never liked. Flotats became the shadow of the always dangerous Kopa, clinging to him like a limpet and not letting him touch the ball. And Di Stéfano… he knows that my teams have given him few opportunities to show off. That 4-0 gave us an indestructible morale ”.

Publicat a La Vanguardia el 22 de novembre del 2002

Published to La Vanguardia on November 22, 2002
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