This morning he passed away Antonio Calpe, Levante UD legend, at the age of 81 after a long illness. Calpe also played for Real Madrid. Born in Valencia in 1940, he started as a professional at CD Alcoyano, in the Third Division (61-62). The following season he would land on the granota team with which he achieved promotion to the First Division. That year he played all the games as a starter in defense and two seasons later he was transferred to Real Madrid CF, being one of the components of the so-called ye-ye team and where he achieved four leagues and a European Cup in 1966.
He stayed at Real Madrid until the 1971 season and, after two serious injuries, he returned to the club of his whole life, Levante, where he would play until the 1973-74 campaign.Associated with the club’s imagination, and an everlasting collaborator, he was a link between Vicente Piquer and Roberto Gil. He assumed the bench of the Orriols club between matchdays three and six of the 1981-1982 academic year, with a balance of two victories and two defeats. He was second coach in different stages and a member of the Barça technical secretariat
Who was Antonio Calpe?
This is how the club remembered Antonio Calpe. For many generations of granotas Antonio Calpe was part of the spiritual reserve of Levantinism. He formed the armed wing of the group of footballers with a subversive soul who had achieved in June 1963 the titanic promotion to First Division. During a long time of hardship, crises of faith, from a Barça perspective, were solved by going back in time to recover those days of extreme happiness within the framework of the highest category of football. Vallejo’s ancient fiefdom was illuminated again to commemorate a promotion match against Deportivo de La Coruña, Coruña at that time, or a legendary victory against FC Barcelona (5-1). The hosts of Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid or Athletic de Bilbao paraded through the coliseum on Calle de Alboraya to pack the installation. At that spatial point the story of the derby between Valencia and Levante germinated, which today fortunately is already part of the collective imagination of our city. The Beatles sounded in the old pick-ups when the granotas and the Mestalla team fought a duel remembering old forgotten battles.
Calpe was the exceptional protagonist of all those milestones. Between the seasons 1962-1963 and 1964-1965 his presence in the eleven of Levante was continued. Lelé, Quique and Orizaola trusted in their sports performance. He was a clever and intuitive footballer. In a way, Antonio Calpe was a forerunner. From the side of the defense he used to project himself with virulence towards the attack, emulating the lanes who would make their fortune in football much later. He plagued everything that was put in front of him. He was fast and technical. Vicente Camarasa, captain of the mythical ascent of ’63, remembered with a malicious smile that he was the most talented component of the Levantine rearguard. The rest were a few ‘llenyadors’, in definition of the great captain. It was not a mere compliment. The defenders of the time were crude and had a reputation as jailers. Calpe with the ball at his feet had discretion and judgment. It was imaginative and sharp. He radiated football.
Tribute to Antonio Calpe.
Calpe landed in Levante in the summer of 1962. The previous season he had defended the Alcoyano shirt. Fate could have changed if it had committed itself to Elche. There was more than just serious propositions. However, the entente was not concluded. Valencia also jealously watched his movements in that period. That could end in a family schism of the first magnitude. Something was brewing in Vallejo, with Eduardo Clérigues as president, and Blas Escrig, protector in the economic sphere, when Levante announced their commitment to the defender. In reality, Calpe was born with the inoculated Levantine gene. There are inheritances that are transmitted through the father. Is the case. Calpe came to the world on February 4, 1940. That day the UDLG (Unión Deportiva Levante-Gimnástico) beat Gerona in Catalan lands (1-2). He used to remember that anniversary with pride whenever he could.
The happiness of Ernesto Calpe, his father, must have been twofold. To the resplendent triumph it was necessary to add the birth of its first offspring. The group dedicated the victory to Antonio Calpe. There are some who are born blessed. It was his baptismal certificate as granota. Ernesto Calpe was the initiator of a saga that time would perpetuate with his sons Antonio and Ernesto. All defended the blazon of Levante FC and Levante UD in matches full of significance. The trace of Ernesto Calpe is perceptible in the narration of the epic triumph in the Free Spain Cup in July 1937. He was a fierce and forceful defender. Your son improved the womb. The combative essence remained as a sign of common identity, but in Antonio’s boots there was sparkle, distinction and creativity.
Calpe was the son of the postwar period. Like most of the children of his time, he grew up holding a ball in the streets of a Valencia still wounded by the effects of the Civil War. In front of his house was the Campo de La Cruz on the Camino Hondo del Grao. There the first Levante FC shone. Perhaps it was a premonition or a new indicative. He seemed destined to put on the Barça shirt. Antonio Calpe made his debut for Levante in the Vallejo fiefdom on September 16, 1962 against Cartagena (2-1). It was a revealing triumph of a historic season closed with the assault on the First Division. Calpe did not miss a second of the chronicle of that course that included a deep adventure through the Generalissimo Cup until reaching the knockout of the round of 16 against Real Madrid. Before the Mestalla, in the Blaugrana coliseum, he savored the sweet taste of the goal. The records of the chronicles highlight that he transformed a maximum penalty in the 62nd minute. His consolidation in Levante allowed him to project himself towards greater heights. He was selected to represent Spain in the lower categories and acquired prestige and notoriety. His name transcended the borders of the Vallejo fiefdom. Sevilla and Málaga had their names underlined in red. Santiago Bernabéu’s Real Madrid bid for his services, although the story is somewhat detective.
Javier Monleón Díaz, as a representative of the Levante, detailed the operation in a report that is guarded by the Granota Virtual Museum. The Granota delegation, which included the player, traveled to the capital of Spain with the intention of closing the signing of Calpe by Sevilla for an amount of 1,650,000 pesetas. At the Hotel Mediodia, and before the appearance of Antonio Calderón, manager of Real Madrid, events took a notable turn. The chaotic financial situation of the Vallejo company, in line with the relegation to the Second Division at the end of the 1964-1965 academic year, led to the best assets in Levante going on sale on the soccer stock market. Serafín emigrated to FC Barcelona. Antonio Calpe began an extensive relationship with Real Madrid that lasted until the 1970-1971 season. At the edge of Chamartín, he varnished his curriculum with national and international titles. He was a member of the group that won the sixth European Cup in 1965-1966.
Por la eterna memoria de Antonio Calpe, leyenda en mayúsculas del #LevanteUD
Calpe’s departure eased the Levante’s safe, but it was not his last act of service. In the early seventies he returned to the point of origin to seal his professional career. He had more distinguished and better-paid proposals, but he did not hesitate one iota to return home to protect the Barça jacket in what is interpreted as a huge exercise of affection that he has always reiterated. “I have been from the Levant since I was born.” The Levant had plummeted into the hell of the Third Division. Vallejo no longer existed and the Beatles had parted ways. The entity had moved to the Orriols neighborhood. The current Ciutat de València emerged like a ghost in the middle of nowhere. Calpe brought muscle and experience to the promotion to the Silver category with Juncosa on the bench. It was the 1972-1973 season. For many years he was one of the few players who had defended the granota flag in all divisions of national football.
After his retirement from football he reinvented himself to remain linked to the club, although he had some period away from Levante. He knew their idiosyncrasies and their peculiarities. It was a kind of Swiss army knife. He could be a second coach, a man of confidence of the coach on duty, a delegate, a temporary coach or a member of the technical secretariat. He trained Cruyff in the last days of the 1980-1981 campaign due to Rifé’s injury. They say that his level of demand with respect to the players he had to examine was very high. On some occasion, he half jokingly came to point out that, in his opinion, if they couldn’t play for Real Madrid they couldn’t play for Levante either. It was part of the usual landscape of the Levant during the last decades. And he did not have a major role in the institution due to that tendency towards introversion that marked his character. It was pure elegance with the magnetized leather on the feet, but withdrawn off the pitch. He blushed when they recognized him as one of the greats in the history of Levante. At present he was Honorary President of the Association of ExFutbolistas del Levante UD. Today at eighty-one he is gone forever. Perhaps he has gone as he always dreamed; in silence and without raising his voice in these dark times.
Levantinism and the mourning football world
Desde la Delegación de Peñas del Levante UD lamentamos profundamente el fallecimiento de Don Antonio Calpe. pic.twitter.com/DC4fu89yTM
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7116