If one talks about Argentines who were part of FC Barcelonanames quickly come to mind Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Juan Román Riquelme or Javier Mascherano, among many others. However, there was one person who made history at the club several years before and from across the field.
Much loved and respected by the immense Barça family, Nicolau Casaus became vice president of the institution in 1978 after losing in the presidential elections with José Luis Núñez who, seeing the enormous charisma and the great acceptance that he had among the culé masses, offered him the position.
"Just like in Barcelona, Nicolau Casaus was and was very important to me in regards to the social sector", assures Infobae Alberto Caloggero, President of the "Penya Nicolau Casaus" in Buenos Aires.
Casaus arrived with his family in Igualada (municipality of Catalonia) in 1918 with only five years old, from Mendoza. From there his passion for Barcelona grew to such an extent that he founded his own Barcelona club in the city and he was a regular activist and defender of Catalanism during the Spanish Civil War, position for which he was sentenced to death in the first instance.
"I was sentenced to death for 70 days, a sentence that was commuted to life imprisonment", assured in the book ‘Sport in the Civil War’ by Julián García Candau. He eventually spent five years in prison until he was released.
After regaining his freedom, he continued with his purpose of spreading Barcelona's passion and ideology wherever he was. "He began to visit other clubs, he learned and became responsible for the social area of the clubs in Catalonia. All of this earned him the votes and the confidence of the people, ”says Caloggero, referring to his two nominations for the club's presidency.
Despite not achieving their goal of achieving that position, in both elections a common factor was repeated: they did not want to lose him within the institution. In 1965 the winning president Narcís de Carreras named him the official representative of Barcelona among the clubs, whereas in 1978 José Luis Núñez (10,352 votes against 6,202 of Casaus) offered him the vice presidency and responsibility for the social area.
During his 21 years as a manager, he focused on giving importance to the name of the club throughout the world. "I visited many peñas because I considered that each one was an embassy of Catalonia and Barcelona that had to maintain its traditions", explains the current president of the Barcelona fan club in Buenos Aires.
“Many times I spoke to him in Barcelona. Every trip I made asked to speak to him, he received me and we spent long times talking about the project and the things I wanted to do here in Buenos Aires and in America ”, says Caloggero, who after taking the reins of the "Penya Nicolau Casaus" in 1999, wanted to meet him personally: "I was dazzled by his clarity in the concepts he had about what FC Barcelona is, Catalonia and everything that gives us passion and pride".
ITS INFLUENCE ON DIEGO MARADONA'S TRANSFER.
In his stay within the walls of the club he saw many renowned footballers parading like Josep Guardiola, Michael Laudrup, Johan Cruyff and Carles Rexach, among others, but without a doubt, the most outstanding was Diego Armando Maradona who considered Casaus as "His second sporty father."
In his new role as vice president of Barcelona, one of Mendoza's first trips was to his country, in the midst of preparations for the World Cup that took place in 1978 and which had the national team as the winner. During your stay, Casaus met a 17-year-old soccer player who did wonders for Argentinos Juniors.
From that moment, the two built a great friendship, "Which ended up being key in the arrival of the talented midfielder to Barcelona", related the official page of the club.
The leadership, which considered that this young man had talent, but was not yet ready to play in the first team, was convinced by Casaus' insistence and, after extensive negotiations, on June 4, 1982 Diego Maradona signed a contract as Barca, from Boca Juniors.
As recognized by the official Barcelona site, during the first days in the city, the Fluff settled in the vice president's house, despite having been one of the most expensive signings in history: “For me, Mr. Casaus was my second sports father; after my coach, he is the person I love and trust the most. ”, he assured at that time.
At 86 years old, his period as vice president of the institution was to end in 1999. Year in which he left the position at the same time that he was named "Honorary Vice President of FC Barcelona". Collaborating specifically with the social part, Casaus continued to visit sports facilities until 2003. His delicate state of health, and the promotion of Joan Laporta with his management team ended up taking him away from "his home".
“We always talked, he always received me. But time went by, his health worsened and I saw how he lost himself to my talks or questions. The comments he made sometimes did not coincide with the conversations we had, ”Caloggero laments.
Finally, at 94, the charismatic manager died after suffering a long illness, for which he was forced to enter a hospital center. “I lost a great teacher, a great friend, a person who changed me. Before dying I swore to him that, as long as I live, the Barcelona supporters club Nicolau Casaus from Buenos Aires was going to give something to talk about, ”recalls Alberto Caloggero.
"I don't like football, I like Barça", "A game in which Barça is not in doesn't interest me" or "Above Barça, only God and the family" were some of the phrases that came from the mouth of one of the most beloved Argentines in the Barcelona world.