Skip menu

Main menu

Content menu

Top of page


Link to related content


06.04.2008 10:52

Forty years since the passing of Benítez

Manel Tomàs

Forty years ago today, on Saturday 6 April 1968, the day before an important FC Barcelona – Real Madrid game in the Nou Camp, everybody was shocked to learn the terrible news of the death of Barça’s Uruguayan defender Julio César Benítez.

He was taken suddenly by gangrene at only 27 years old. The shock felt by Barça fans was tremendous as Benítez was especially loved by them, not only for his excellence and fighting spirit but also his happy, jovial character. He was known by all as the good big kid. A friend to his friends and a great colleague to everybody, his final words were: “Let’s go lads! We’ll beat Madrid 2-0.”

Over 150,000 people

Enterrament_Benxtez_x21x.jpg150,000 people of all ages visited the specially erected funeral chapel in the Nou Camp on a pilgrimage that lasted from 10.00 am on Sunday 7 April to 3.00 pm the next day. Barça’s players, along with those from Espanyol and Real Madrid, kept vigil through the night, clearly shook by the events that had taken place. Madrid player Gento, who had been a great rival on the pitch, prayed for many minutes in the chapel.

Loved by everybody

The silent, orderly queue of people stretched for hundreds of metres. In the early hours appeared taxi drivers and waiters who had just finished their shifts. Later, when the sun still hadn’t risen, came workers from the markets. At dawn men and women from the factories arrived. Later still, employees from offices, department stores and small shops showed up.

In short, it was a huge outpouring of grief that had rarely been seen in the city of Barcelona. As can be read in a report at the time: “This solidarity in pain, this explosion of brotherhood for a football player could not be explained if it were not for a club like Barcelona being at the heart of it all. Barça is a symbol of our land, our region. It is something deeply rooted in the spirit and feeling of everybody who wears and defends their colours as their own.”

Next to the Nou Camp

Enterrament_Benxtez_x14x.jpgJulio César Benítez was buried in the cemetery in Les Corts, next to the Nou Camp, at 6.00 pm on Monday 8 April 1968. The Barça-Madrid game was played the next day following a two day postponement. Benítez’s team mates, grief-stricken, didn’t play well and were unable to dedicate a victory to him: the game finished 1-1.

Cup winners

The league was eventually won by Real Madrid but Barça got revenge by beating Madrid 1-0 in the cup final in the Santiago Bernabéu. It was the famous “bottle final”. That day, July 11, 1968, Sadurní, Torres, Gallego, Eladio, Zabalza, Fusté, Rifé, Zaldúa, Mendonça, Pereda and Rexach could say: “It’s for you, Julio”.
Forty years since the passing of Benítez
One of a kind
Benítez was one of the best defenders to have played for Barça in their history. Born in Montevideo (Uruguay) on October 1, 1940, at 16 he had already played in Uruguay’s first division for Racing Club Montevideo. In 1959 he signed for Real Valladolid and a year later moved to Real Zaragoza. He was already considered a star when Barça moved in for him in August 1961.

He played in various positions for Barça, starting on the inside, then midfield and finally at full back. Though he ended up as a defender he was most definitely attack minded and quite creative. He had great technical skill and was a genius with the ball at his feet. He was also a free kick specialist. On the downside, he was quite temperamental and fiery on the pitch (though mild and good-natured off it) and this led to a lot of problems with referees.

He played 259 games and scored 28 goals for Barça. He won the Cup in 1962/63, the Fairs Cup in 1965/66 and a posthumous Cup in 1967/68.

Top of page

Back to top

Related content

Football News

Back to top
Top of page