|Full name||Josep Samitier Vilalta|
|Date of birth||2 February 1902|
|Place of birth||Barcelona, Spain|
|Date of death||4 May 1972 70)(aged|
|Place of death||Barcelona, Spain|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
|1920 Antwerp||Team competition|
Josep Samitier Vilalta (2 February 1902 – 4 May 1972), also known as José Samitier, was a Spanish footballer, manager and scout who played for FC Barcelona, Madrid CF, OGC Nice, the Catalan XI and Spain. He later coached Athletic Madrid, OGC Nice and FC Barcelona and worked as a scout for both CF Barcelona and Real Madrid.
During his playing career with FC Barcelona he scored 333 goals and currently is the club's all time third top goalscorer with behind Paulino Alcántara who scored 369 goals and Lionel Messi who scored 487 goals. As a player he pioneered the midfield general role and was nicknamed El Mag (The Magician) and Home Llagosta (The Grasshopper Man) due to his style. As a manager he led CF Barcelona to a La Liga title in 1945 and as a scout he recruited another CF Barcelona legend Ladislao Kubala. However he was later accused of acting as a double agent when the club tried to sign Alfredo Di Stéfano and in the 1960s he fell out with Helenio Herrera and went to work for Real Madrid. Despite his role in the Di Stéfano affair, twice defecting to Real Madrid and his friendship with Franco, he remained a legendary figure at FC Barcelona and when he died in 1972 he was given a virtual state funeral by the club.
FC Barcelona player
Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Samitier played as a junior for FC Internacional before, at the age of 17, he made his debut for FC Barcelona in 1919. As his signing-on bonus, he received a luminous watch and a three-piece suit. Among his team mates at the club was his childhood friend Sagibarba. During holidays at the Catalan resort of Cadaqués, Samitier and Sagibarba had played football with, among others, Salvador Dalí.
By 1925 Samitier was the highest paid player in Spain. He was a member of the legendary FC Barcelona team, coached by Jack Greenwell, that, apart from Sagibarba, also included Paulino Alcántara, Ricardo Zamora, Félix Sesúmaga and, later, Franz Platko. Between 1919 and 1933 he won twelve Campionat de Catalunya titles, five Copa del Rey and the very first La Liga title. Among the goals he scored were four in the Copa del Rey finals of 1922, 1925, 1926 and 1928.
In 1920 together with Ricardo Zamora, Félix Sesúmaga, Pichichi and José María Belauste, Samitier was also a member of the first ever Spanish national squad. The squad, coached by Francisco Bru, won the silver medal at the 1920 Olympic Games. He subsequently made 21 appearances and scored 2 goals for Spain.
Samitier also played at least 21 games and scored at least 15 goals for the Catalan XI. However records from the era do not always include accurate statistics and he may have played and scored more. Together with Paulino Alcántara, Sagibarba and Ricardo Zamora he helped the Catalan XI win an inter-regional competition, the Copa Princep de Asturies, three times during the 1920s. In the 1924 final he scored twice in a 4-4 draw against a Castile XI and scored again in the 3-2 replay. His last game for the Catalan XI was his own testimonial on 19 January 1936 at the Les Corts. He scored in a 1-1 draw with SK Sidenice of Czechoslovakia.
In 1933 an aging Samiter found himself in dispute with the FC Barcelona management and he was dropped from the first team. Real Madrid, then known as Madrid CF, were quick to take advantage of the situation. Samitier was reunited with both his friend Ricardo Zamora and then Francisco Bru. Although his career with the Madrid club was short, he did help them win a La Liga title in 1932–33 and the Copa de España in 1934.
Exile in France
In 1936 Samitier made a brief start to his career as a coach. He succeeded Fred Pentland at Atlético Madrid in the middle of the season, but failed to prevent them from being relegated. However Samitier’s new career and Atlético's relegation were postponed with the start of the Spanish Civil War. He found himself arrested by an anarchist militia, but was eventually released and left for France on a warship. His escape was later exploited by the Nationalist side in an account printed in Marca. In October 1936 he joined OGC Nice as a player, where he was reunited once again with Ricardo Zamora. He subsequently scored 47 goals in 82 matches for the French team. He eventually retired as a player in 1939 and was briefly coach at OGC Nice in 1942.
Return to Barcelona
Samiter returned to Spain and became manager of CF Barcelona in 1944. In 1945 he guided them to only their second ever La Liga title. They then beat the Copa del Generalísimo winners Atlético Bilbao to win the Copa de Oro Argentina. Samiter subsequently worked as the clubs chief scout and was instrumental in the recruitment of another CF Barcelona legend Ladislao Kubala.
In the summer of 1950 Kubala arrived in Spain with his own team, Hungaria. The team was made up of fellow refugees fleeing Eastern Europe. They played a series of friendlies against a Madrid Select XI, a Spain XI and RCD Español. During these games, Kubala was spotted by both Real Madrid and Samitier. Kubala was offered a contract by Real but was then persuaded by Samitier to sign for CF Barcelona. It has been suggested that Samitier used his connections within the Franco regime to help arrange the transfer. In the midst of the Cold War, Kubala’s escape to the West was used as propaganda by the Franco regime and was made into a film The Stars Search for Peace which saw Kubala and Samitier playing themselves.
- La Liga: 1
- Copa del Rey: 5
- 1919–20, 1921–22, 1924–25, 1925–26, 1927–28
- Catalan Champions: 12:
- 1918–19, 1919–20, 1920–21, 1921–22, 1923–24, 1924–25, 1925–26, 1926–27, 1927–28, 1929–30, 1930–31, 1931–32
- Olympic Games: 1
- Silver medallist 1920
- Copa Princep de Asturies: 3
- 1922, 1924, 1926
- Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football (2003), Phil Ball.
- "Josep Samitier". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC.