Quini was born on Sept. 23, 1949, in Oviedo, the capital of the Asturias region. His father was a steelworker who also played soccer. As a youth, Quini trained as a welder and then worked for the same steelmaker as his father.

Though a native of Oviedo, which has its own soccer team, Quini joined Sporting de Gijón, about 20 miles away, in 1968. His brother, Jesús Antonio, known as Castro, also joined the team, becoming its goalkeeper.

In his second season, Quini was Sporting’s top scorer, helping to elevate the club from Spain’s second division to the first.

He left Sporting de Gijón for F.C. Barcelona in 1980, four years after the Catalan club had unsuccessfully tried to acquire him. The transfer amount, 82 million Spanish pesetas, was one of the highest fees paid in Spanish soccer at the time.

His abduction occurred the next year, on March 1, after a crushing victory over the Alicante club Hércules. Quini was about to get into his car at his Barcelona home, near the club’s Camp Nou stadium, and drive to the airport to pick up his wife and children when two gunmen seized him and spirited him away.

El secuestro de Quini Video by Kaiser Vintage

Spanish media coverage was intense as the search for him went on for 25 days. His disappearance only added to the trauma of a nation that had days earlier witnessed a failed military coup in which lawmakers were held hostage in Parliament.

The kidnappers eventually asked for a ransom, which negotiators agreed to pay into a secret Swiss bank account. Spanish and Swiss police identified the holder of the account as a Spanish electrician, and he was arrested when he arrived at the bank to collect part of the ransom.

After the man confessed, the police found Quini on March 25 locked in the basement of a car workshop in the northeast city of Zaragoza.

Thousands of people turned out to welcome him, bearded but unharmed, when he returned to Barcelona. (The celebration coincided with a prestigious victory that evening by Spain’s national team over England’s at Wembley Stadium in London.)

The kidnappers were each sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to compensate Quini financially.

The abduction had left his Barcelona team in shock, with its players split over whether to stay home or to continue to compete until their teammate was found.


Quini in 2012. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called him a “sports legend.”

Alberto Morante/European Pressphoto Agency

The club unsuccessfully appealed to the Spanish soccer federation to postpone its matches but ultimately agreed to stick to the schedule, as Quini’s wife had urged.

In his absence, however, the team failed to win any of its four matches, enabling Real Sociedad, from San Sebastián in the Basque region, to overtake Barcelona and become Spanish champions.

Three months after Quini’s release, Barcelona won the King’s Cup in a final against Quini’s former club, Sporting de Gijón, during which he scored twice.

In 1984, Quini decided to retire from soccer and leave Barcelona after winning five trophies with the club. But he quickly changed his mind and rejoined Sporting de Gijón, for which he played another three seasons. His last competitive match, in 1987, was against Barcelona.

There was no immediate information on his survivors.

In its statement, Sporting de Gijón recalled that Quini had started playing soccer as a goalkeeper because that was in his “genes,” the club said; his father had been a keeper, and so had both his brothers.

But Quini switched positions to leave the goalkeeper slot free for his brother Castro.

“The truth is that he wanted to be keeper, but he acted as the big brother,” the club said. “There’s only one keeper in a team.”

Goles de Enrique Castro ‘Quini’ con el Sporting de Gijón Video by yojugueenelsporting

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