Real Madrid had just won the sixth European Cup, in 1966, baptized as ye-yé, and the staff was preparing to comply with the protocol of the time: visit Franco in El Pardo. The captain of that team, Ignacio Zoco, appeared in the locker room and informed the rest of his teammates that they had to go to the reception with the dictator. There were Amancio, Pirri, Gento, Velázquez, Grosso, Serena, Sanchís senior … However, one of them refused. Antonio Calpe, who had only been at the Bernabéu for one season from Levante, said he was not going. “I could not give that displeasure to the family,” he recalled years later, according to the journalist Yolanda Damià, closely linked to the player, who died this Wednesday at the age of 81.
At home, the Civil War had left very deep wounds. Antonio, in fact, was given that name in memory of an uncle shot during the war. “I couldn’t go see who had done so much harm to my grandmother and my father,” he explained. Madrid allowed it, but what he did not count on is that his father Ernesto, despite the pride he felt for that gesture, reproached him at first for the possible problems that that decision could cause his son. The episode defines the marked personality of Antonio Calpe, a man who is also very introverted.
His career was closely linked to Levante, his and that of his entire family. There he played (1962-65), rose to the First Division for the first time in the club’s history and ended (1971-75) his career as a footballer. In total, 225 games. In the middle, at the height of his sporting life, he wore the Real Madrid shirt for six seasons, with which he lifted a European Cup, three Leagues and a Spanish Cup in 121 games.
On the pitch he was ahead of his time. At a time when the defenders were still brave, rough and, if necessary, very tough guys, Calpe was deployed with quality on the wing. As the Levante captain who rose with him in 1963 to the top flight of Spanish football, Vicente Camarasa, would recognize, the rest were “llenyadors”.
Along with Camarasa, Antonio Calpe achieved that year the first milestone in history frog, reach the First Division. A success for the entity and a pride for his family. His father had been part of the Levante that won the Free Spain Cup in 1937, a title that the Federation does not recognize as official. Antonio was born the same day that his father played a league match in Girona. His first steps had been taken in front of the club’s stadium, where the clan house was located. And his little brother played in that shirt afterwards too
A whole saga, although it is also true that Levante’s first response to Antonio Calpe was a no at age 16. That forced him to find a life in Alcoyano, in Third, until his progression finally opened the doors of the mother house in 1962. And in his first year, promotion to First. However, the team only lasted two courses at the summit. He descended and, burdened by debt, had to sell the best jewelry in the house in 1965.
He was convinced that Sevilla would sign him and traveled to Madrid together with the technical secretary and the Levante delegate to close the deal. “We arrived at the Hotel Mediodia, in front of the Atocha station, and there was an impressive commotion. Then we found out that the Beatles had just landed in the city ”, recalled Antonio Calpe in a few words collected by Yolanda Damià. “There, with so much commotion, we sat down to wait for the Lord of Seville. Suddenly, we see Madrid manager Antonio Calderón appear. We greet him and he says: ‘OK, let’s go to the stadium’. The Levante technical secretary told him that we were waiting for a man from Seville. And Calderón replied: ‘indeed, I am a man from Seville who comes to sign Antonio Calpe for Real Madrid’. I went crazy ”. Crazy with joy. The situation led to a discussion between the managers and ended with their signature stamped on the Castellana.
When the news reached his home in Valencia through Radio Alert, his family, who had always thrown a little more towards Barcelona, began to embrace each other. A year later, he was refusing to visit Franco. He had signed for three seasons with Madrid, but stayed for six. In the end, severely punished by injuries (he did not play the final of the European Cup due to physical problems despite being a regular starter), in 1971 he returned to Levante, again in the depths of Third, to close his career as a footballer in the heat of home.
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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 email@example.com 1-800-268-7116