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Off-the-radar: Ferdinand Daučík - the best manager ever in Spain

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Sarthak Kumar talks about Ferdinand Daučík and his achievements in Spain

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Most know the story of how László Kubala arrived in Spain to play for Hungaria, a team made up of refugees fleeing the various Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. Hungaria played a series of friendlies against Madrid Select XI, a Spain XI and RCD Español and during these games, Kubala was spotted by Josep Samitier, then chief scout at CF Barcelona. Kubala was offered a contract and joined CF Barcelona in 1950.

But there's another story in there that often goes missing. The team also included his brother-in-law, Ferdinand Daučík - Ladislao Kubala married Daučík's sister, Anna Viola Daučík, in 1947. Ferdinand had come to coach Hungaria, and as part of the deal that brought Kubala to Barcelona, Ferdinand became the coach of the team.

Ferdinand coached what was arguably the greatest Barcelona side in history. A team consisting of Nicolae Simatoc, Kubala, Velasco, Ramallets and Joan Segarra took Barcelona to win 5 different trophies in 1952 - La Liga, the Copa del Generalísimo, the Copa Latina, the Copa Eva Duarte, and the Copa Martini Rossi. Barcelona would also win consecutive La Liga-Copa del Generalísimo doubles in 1952 and 1953.

It was more than just trophies though - it was also the time Barcelona became a symbol of the Catalan freedom of expression. On a rainy Sunday of 1951, the fans left the stadium after a 2–1 win against Santander by foot, refusing to catch any trams - in support of a tram strike happening in Barcelona - which surprised the Francoist authorities and made CF Barcelona represent much more than just Catalonia - many saw the club as a staunch defender of rights and freedoms.

Ferdinand would then leave in 1954 after clashes with players, and joined Atlético Bilbao (yes, that's what it was called), where he would go on to win the 1955 Copa del Generalísimo, as well as another La Liga-Copa del Generalísimo double in 1956. They even reached the quarterfinals of the European Cup in 1957 - losing 6-5 on aggregate to Manchester United.

In 1957, Ferdinand would join Atlético Madrid, lead them to second place in La Liga - qualifying for the 1958-59 European Cup - reach the semifinals of the Cup, draw 2-2 on aggregate after two legs and lose a replay 2-1 (they would have gone through if away goals was a thing then). He left in 1959.

He would go on to take Real Betis to the semifinals of the Copa in 1961, take newly promoted Real Murcia to a 12th place finish in the 1963-64 La Liga, keep Sevilla in mid-table the following season, win the Copa for a fifth time with Real Zaragoza in 1966 while at the same time come fourth in the league, and there is still a decade more of achievements to talk about.

Took an Elche side that was bottom of the league after 15 games under Di Stéfano and guide it to a quarterfinal place in the Cup as well as an 11th place finish in 1968, take newly relegated Real Betis to a 7th place finish in the 1968-69 Segunda, take newly promoted Sant Andreu to a surprise 8th place in the 1969-70 Segunda, took newly promoted Espanyol to an 11th place finish in the 1970-71 La Liga, took Sant Andreu to another eight place in the 1973-74 Segunda, led newly relegated Levante to the promotion playoffs of the 1974-75 Tercera (losing 2-1 on aggregate to Alavés).

And the only blip in his career will be the time he took charge of Sant Andreu for a third time in 1977, and get relegated from the Segunda. And even that was only because they lost on the final day to Calvo Sotelo 2-1, a match that would directly decide which team went down, which meant Sant Andreu dropped from 16th to 19th*.

He's been a success with big teams and small teams. He's been a success with newly relegated teams and newly promoted teams. He's even been a success outside Spain - he took the newly formed Toronto Falcons to respectable 4th and 3rd place finishes before the club folded.

He wasn't too shabby as a player - he came runner-up with Czechoslovakia in the 1934 FIFA World Cup.

And he wasn't too shabby as a manager either.


*If you still don't think Ferdinand Daučík is the best manager in Spain, you'd be happy to know that Sant Andreu, one of the most historic Catalan teams, has never come back to the Segunda since.