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Life after Ferrándiz


Pedro Ferrándiz’s passing is as painful as when we lost Manolo Santana and Ángel Nieto. All three were pioneers who broadened the sporting panorama in a country which, up until the 1960s, knew little else other than what we could call the classic trilogy - football, cycling and boxing. Television, which was only just emerging, brought a new range of sports into Spanish households - sports that we had no knowledge of. Ferrándiz was the brains behind Real Madrid’s basketball section. He arrived just when the club’s football team, the golden generation featuring Di Stéfano, had entered into decline. Basketball’s introduction to Spain was largely down to that Real Madrid side coached by Ferrándiz.

It’s well documented how he quit whilst still a young man because, in his words, “I had trophies coming out of my ears”. But he didn’t stop there. He launched the Ferrándiz Foundation, a museum/institution in the Alcobendas district of Madrid - which he converted into a temple of basketball and Olympic sport. He also offered the auditorium to this newspaper to stage a Ferrándiz-AS forum which, for years, some of the most important voices in sport could engage in a debate about the key issues concerning sport in Spain. For AS, it was a chance to escape the stresses of the competitive calendar and chew the fat about what might lie ahead. Ferrándiz meanwhile, was delighted that his forum became the nerve centre of national debate.

He lived close by, in an attic apartment where he would organise off-the-record lunches, hold meetings, bring together key figures, smooth out any rough edges, give advice... By the time he was in his 80s, he decided to return to his native Alicante but continued to invite anyone who sought his advice, which he would happily give out on his marvellous terrace overlooking the sea. He only stopped those gatherings a short while ago, out of embarrassment for his own physical decline. Now that he is no longer here, I would like to say that Ferrándiz as a young man - the brilliant, livewire coach, turned into a highly knowledgeable savant and guiding light, a wonderful host and a selfless, influential counsellor on all aspects of Spanish sport. May he rest in peace.


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