MADRID (AP) — Francisco “Paco” Gento, a former Real Madrid great who is the only soccer player to win six European Cup titles, has died. He was 88.
Madrid announced Gento's passing on Tuesday but did not give a cause of death.
Gento played with Madrid for 18 seasons, from 1953-71, and his 23 titles with the club in official competitions is a record he shares with Brazilian defender Marcelo, who tied him on Sunday by winning the Spanish Super Cup.
In addition to the six European Cups, Gento also helped Madrid win 12 Spanish league titles. He played 600 games with the club, scoring 182 goals. He was later named honorary president of the club.
“Paco Gento truly represents all the values of Real Madrid, and has been and will continue to be a reference for madridistas and for the sporting world,” Madrid said in a statement. “He will always be remembered by madridistas and all football fans as one of their greatest.”
Gento, a strong and speedy left winger, also made 43 appearances with the Spanish national team. He played in the 1962 and 1966 World Cups.
“Gento’s loss will be mourned by the football community,” FIFA said.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti told the squad about Gento's death before Tuesday's practice session and called for a moment of silence in his memory.
Former Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said Gento helped put Madrid's name in the history books forever by “achieving the greatest achievements.”
Several clubs and players expressed their condolences through social media posts.
Among Gento’s teammates in attack during his time at Madrid were other former greats such as Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskas.
Gento arrived at the Spanish powerhouse from Racing Santader in 1953, the same season Di Stéfano joined the club. Together, they led Madrid to a golden era both in Spain and internationally.
Gento was a crucial piece in the team that won five consecutive European Cups from 1956-60, and he also helped it lift the trophy in 1966. He played in eight European finals in total — a record he shares with AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini — coming up short of the title in 1962 and 1964. Gento played in 88 European Cup games, scoring 31 goals.
Madrid fans will have a chance to say goodbye to Gento starting Tuesday evening, when his hid body will be placed at the club's presidential box at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. A private funeral will be held at a later date in his hometown of Guarnizo in northern Spain.
Gento is survived by his wife, Mari Luz, sons Francisco and Julio, and granddaughters Aitana and Candela.
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