The origins of the youth set-up (I)
After the success of Barça's players at the World Cup Finals this year www.fcbarcelona.cat kicks off a four-part series on the history of the club's youth scheme.
In recent seasons the Blaugrana have become accustomed to homegrown players helping them win
trophies and now they have transported that to the Spain team.
Various key figures have all come forward to explain how the club worked during their
respective eras and have added to the rich history that gives Barça such a colourful story. Albert
Benaiges has been a coach of the youth teams for more than two decades and he explained: "My
grandfather used to talk about the Barça of Samitier, Bravo, Alcàntara and Piera as a spectacular
team with great width and a centre forward. Then there was a very Catalan Barça after that with
players such as Biosca, Gensana and Besora, who were joined by the Hungarians like Czibor and
Kubala to former another team."
Albert Puig, the club's youth technical secretary, stated: "If the fans had not accepted this
type of play then it would never have worked. This has always been so since the time that the club
changed from Les Corts to Camp Nou when Kubala was playing so well."
Former player and coach Carles Rexach recalled the 1960's and 1970's when there was
a tendency among coaches to favour the more physical side over technique. "They wanted you to run
up and down and you spent all day in the gym," he said. "It was all very physical. That changed
though with the arrival of Rinus Michels who was a coach who liked to work with the ball." Benaiges
believes that "it was under him that the tiqui taca we know today began under him".
Another Blaugrana player from the 1970's, Toño de la Cruz, thinks Michels began the way Barça
play now. "He was the founder of the Clockwork Oranje and that type of football came here," he
said. "That is why it is logical to have him down as the creator of the style. Barça played with a
4-3-3 back then just like the current team do."
Joan Martínez Vilaseca, who has worked at Barça as a coach for 28 years, does not agree
entirely. "The way the team now plays started with Cruyff and has continued with Guardiola," he
Oriol Tort has discovered many of Barça's favourite homegrown players in the past
few decades and it is he who Benaiges credits with the success of La Masia. "He is the true reason
for the success of the Blaugrana youth teams," he added. "He knew it all and wrote his own chapter
and was a true football man." Rexach was discovered by Tort and he agrees. "Those who knew him will
never forget him." Martínez Vilaseca was also a fan. "I worked for a long time with Tort and he was
a man who never said no to anyone and was always going to see games to try and discover new