ANOTHER major step has been taken in the quest to grant Patrick O’Connell his deserved recognition among soccer’s history books.
The Man Who Saved FC Barcelona, a new book which documents the life and times of Dubliner O’Connell, is released on Friday, July 15.
The biography was written over a number of years by Sue O’Connell, who is the wife of Patrick’s grandson, Mike.
Sue’s extensive research in England, Ireland, Spain and Mexico enabled her to compile a vast amount of information on O’Connell’s life and career.
The book features authentic documents, letters and family memories, which has helped paint the clearest picture yet of a man whose remarkable achievements were only brought to the public’s attention in dribs and drabs in recent years.
A former Belfast Celtic player, O’Connell is better remembered as the first Irishman to captain Manchester United in 1915, although it was at the prestigious FC Barcelona where he made his biggest mark.
He managed Barcelona to a Catalan Liga title and protected the club from General Franco during the Spanish Civil War by taking them on a tour of Mexico during the 1936-37 season, saving them from financial ruin in the process.
It paved the way for the club to become the global institution it is today and, for that feat, O’Connell became the first Irishman to make Barcelona’s Hall of Fame last December.
O’Connell also managed Real Betis to the 1934-35 La Liga title during his time in Spain, where he earned the nickname ‘Don Patricio’.
Despite his impressive career, he died penniless in 1959 and received a pauper’s burial at St Mary’s Cemetery in London’s Kensal Green, Kilburn, where his grave lay unmarked and underappreciated for many years.
However, in May of this year, a group called the Patrick O’Connell Fund achieved its objective of restoring his grave.
The Man Who Saved FC Barcelona is available now via Amberley Books.