Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pinoy International Football Legend

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
 But that is just theory. Perhaps Paulino Alcantara may still be considered an anomaly, given that he is a mestizo. The question still remains if we can replicate his greatness. Unlike in boxing, the accomplishments of Gabriel "Flash" Elorde has been exceeded by Manny Pacquiao, and our prowess in boxing has been well recognized for a long time. In football, the big leagues and the big boys are out there. Ours is just starting to bloom, or we can say we may have been gone a long time but its time that we dominate it. Whichever way we look at it, there's really something big for us in this sport. Paulino had done it 100 years ago, our people may do it again or even better.