Long before there was Manny Pacquiao, there was already an international Pinoy sports sensation. Long before the Azkals were overrated and adored, there was already a Filipino who made it in football's Hall of Fame. Little do most Filipinos know that we have someone who not only was the first Asian to play at European leagues in the history of football, but was a superstar in his time.
His name was Paulino Alcantara, born to a Spanish father and a Filipino mother in Iloilo. His fame and legend started around 100 years ago when at the age of 15 years old, he went and played for a European football league. Paulino became more legendary after he breaks the net by scoring a goal, earning him the nickname "El Rompe Redes" or the Net Breaker. He even holds a record which no one has been able to break: 369 goals in 357 games. Recently, Paulino was named Best Asian Player of All Time by FIFA.
It is glaringly odd why a person like Paulino haven't been mentioned in the history books of the Philippines or recognized in sports. Perhaps it is because we have indulged ourselves in a sport that we can neither be exceedingly great, which is basketball. Basketball is a sport for the genetically appropriate, meaning players has to be innately bionic or extremely tall. We should try to set our sights on sports that don't require qualities that we Filipinos lack genetically like football, baseball, and many others.
|Photo from FCBarcelona.com|