Francisco. Few children and young people from Seville and from all over Spain have ever met an elite footballer who simply carried that name. Francisco López Alfaro was “only Francisco” during his 16 years as a footballer, a career that started in 1981 at Sevilla FC and that three years later would take him to play with the National Team the final of the Eurocup against France: Arconada, Camacho, Señor , Santillana … and “only Francisco”. The most international player in Nervión (20 games with Spain) after Jesús Navas (35) has just entered the exclusive club of those chosen by Seville history. It is already the Bib number of Legend, the highest distinction that the club grants to its former soccer players to reward their career in the institution.
Francisco López Alfaro in the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Sevilla FC stadium, along with the images of other Club Bib numbers. Paco Bridges
“I am 57 years old, I left Seville in 1990, 30 years ago, and there are still people, including Betis, who see me on the street and congratulate me. I was a reference for many at a certain time, “says the former Sevilla midfielder, who played 302 games in the red and white shirt. Before continuing, he insists: “No one has ever told me López Alfaro in life. I’m Francisco. And Francisco is from Seville ”. From Seville, like Pablo Blanco or Antonio Álvarez, glories that are also Legend Bibs.
The award was created in 2009 and has only been received by 12 players (see graphic). All of them played more than 300 matches with the first team and defended the Spanish National Team shirt at least once while belonging to Sevilla. “It is a club award for fidelity”, analyzes Blanco, a Seville myth who, with 415 official games between 1971 and 1984, is the second to wear Nervión’s shirt the most times. “It is directed to the past, present and future,” he says.
Blanco and Francisco agree that the award is important so that young generations, those who fell in love with the club with the “Seville boom” of the 21st century, know the legacy and feeling of so many years of history. The club has decided to protect and enhance it through a specific department, the History area, created in 2011 and led by Seville-based anthropologist Carlos Romero. “There is nothing better than history to underline the sense of belonging to a club,” he says.
Carlos Romero, director of the History area of Sevlla FC, in the club museum. Paco Bridges
Romero’s team is made up of two club employees and seven collaborators, including historians, lawyers, economists, and teachers. Thanks to their tireless work, diving through the digital archives of small, medium and large libraries around the world, they found, among other things, the true date of the club’s founding, which was in 1890 and not 1905, as they believed. “We found the record at the British Library, in a newspaper called Dundee Courier and Argus,” says Romero. They also found out who the club’s first president had been, British Deputy Consul Edward Farquharson Johnston, thanks to an interview with the Otago Witness newspaper in the city of Dunedin in New Zealand. The effort, for Romero, has a recipient: “The youngest have to know a history of 130 years!”
The president of Sevilla FC, José Castro, delivers the Dorsal de Leyenda to the excentrocampista of the club Enrique Montero. Sevilla FC
The president of the club, José Castro, is involved in the election of each Legend Bib. “You cannot imagine the internal debates that it provokes”, he confesses. In addition to trying to bring the history of the club closer to the youngest, the recognition of the legendary numbers is also a nod to the oldest. “So that they see that that Seville that they lived and defended from the stands will never fall into oblivion,” says Castro. “It was our responsibility that everyone knew who Juan Arza, José María Busto or Marcelo Campanal were. We are talking about essential players in the 20th century: our only Pichichi, our league goalkeeper champion in 1946 and, probably, the best central defender in our history, respectively, ”says President Castro.
Francisco says that his most beautiful memory was the day of his debut in the top flight, “on December 13, 1981”, against Real Zaragoza in La Romareda. The match ended 1-4, with four goals from Brazilian Pintinho and one from the home side of Valdano. “It was a game that I will never forget in my life,” says the club’s new Bib number. Francisco became a coach after retiring from the fields in 1997. Since 2010 he has worked with the Nervión youth team, focused above all on improving the skills of midfielders and trying to transfer his passion for the team from his humility as Francisco and from his weight as legend.
Enrique Lora, second from left, and his family during the act in which he was awarded the VII Legend of Sevilla FC. Sevilla FC
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