Bernardo Salazar Acha, the ‘memory’ of football, passed away on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was both feared and expected, but it doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Bernardo lived with a lung condition for a number of years but stubbornly fought against it; a further example of his fighting spirit. The Atlético spirit. For Bernardo Salazar, football started and ended with Atleti: his grandfather, Eduardo de Acha, was one of the founders of the club, and his uncles would take him to the old Metropolitano as a youngster. “I was an Atleti fan before I could think for myself… Maybe if I had thought a little sooner and harder I would’ve chosen Madrid,” he joked. He was a staunch Atlético fan.
Memory and knowledge
Yet he was a fan of football as a whole, and was passionate about the Tour de France, history, and a handful of other things. His memory was extraordinary. I remember once, to pass the time on a long journey, I asked him about the Trastámara family and he took me between Madrid and Murcia, across three centuries of the Spanish monarchy and cross-linked families, recounting illegitimacy, wars, and voyages, and threading it all together seamlessly. His knowledge of any club - Logroñés, say – was unparalleled. You could show him a picture of any team before the war and he could tell you who all of them were. In fact, a network of local researchers was also structured around him.
A generous friend
This was in addition to his work as a high-standing executive in the world of advertising, an industry in which he developed pioneering initiatives. For Bernard, football was passion and devotion, and he was also a remarkable contributor for AS – we made the bold decision to do a long series of collectables with him, and even today I still look at them often and with great pride as they sit on my bookcase. At the Federation he worked in tandem with Félix Martialay, and between them they produced football notebooks that are an absolute gem. Bernardo was a generous friend and would review every book and every history article I wrote. He’s no longer here, but he will live on through his work, the memory of Spanish football.