A mural has been unveiled in Belfast to commemorate Patrick O’Connell; a legend of Real Betis.
The mural of Don Patricio was painted on Falls Road by artist Danny Devenney. It is part of a campaign to put a memorial at the unmarked grave of O’Connell in London.
Don Patricio led Real Betis to their first, and only, Spanish league title back in 1935 as I explain here in the history of Betis. His fantastic work in Seville sparked Barcelona’s interest who were in big trouble and facing extinction. The Irishman signed for Barcelona at the start of the ’36-37 campaign.
The reason why he is so revered in Barcelona is because he took the team over to the USA and Mexico to play exhibition games to raise money after the club president, Josep Sunyol, was assassinated by a General Franco henchman during the civil war.
Without getting too much into the politics, Franco was a nationalist and hated everything that Barcelona stood for, not least because it was a big republican stronghold and had their own Catalan language.
The funds O’Connell raised were transferred to a secret bank account in Paris where they were used to keep Los Cules afloat.
Before he was a manager, O’Connell played for Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and captained Manchester United. In Spain he managed Real Oviedo, Racing Santander, Barcelona and Betis.
The unique work of Don Patricio will now be forever remembered on Falls Road.