In The News

Campaign for memorial to forgotten footballer

Campaign for memorial to forgotten footballer

A CAMPAIGN is continuing to raise funds for a memorial to a forgotten footballer who was buried in an unmarked grave.

Dublin-born Patrick O’Connell played for Belfast Celtic in his early years before going on to captain Manchester United and Ireland. After retiring as a player, Mr. O’Connell went to Spain in the 1930s where he became a manager, eventually helping to save Barcelona.

He had first managed Real Betis — winning the Spanish La Liga for the first time in the club’s history — before moving to Barca in the late 1930s. As the Spanish Civl War raged, Barcelona Football Club was facing extinction  under intense pressure from General Franco’s forces. But Mr. O’Connell took the club on a tour of the USA and Mexico which resulted in enough money being raised to save the club.

He became known in Spain as ‘Don Patricio the Barcelona Savour’, but within 20 years he had died destitute in London and was buried in an unmarked grave in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Kilburn.

A campaign to raise funds for a fitting memorial has been ungoing with many leading figures in football lending their support. Martin O’Neill, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer are among those to back the campaign by donating signed football shirts.

Fergus Dowd from The Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund said there has already been a great response to their efforts to raise money for a 


“It has been unbelievable — we’ve had responses from all over Europe. The top people in football have been involved”, said Mr. Dowd. He added: “Remember, without him there would be no Barcelona — no Messi, no Cruyff, no Maradona. It was O’Connell who saved Barcelona from extinction.”

For more information about the campaign and to find out how to make a donation visit The Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund website.

View previous In the News items Help medical education by donating your remains, Families are urged to back organ donation requests, Oldest person in UK passes away, Sixties pop star Dozy passes away, Actor and singer Lance Percival passes away, Tributes are paid to war veteran Bernard Jordan, Paisley family reveal how rosebud brought them much pleasure, MP warns of problems caused by funeral poverty, Funeral to take place of cancer campaigner Una Crudden, Actress Joanna Dunham passes away, Funeral takes place of rugby legend Jack Kyle, Tributes are paid to crime writer P D James, Join the donor register and help save lives, Funeral takes place of Brendan Megraw, Guitarist Manitas de Plata passes away, Family funeral planned for Brendan Megraw, Tributes are paid to American poet Galway Kinnell, Actress Marcia Strassman passes away, Tributes have been paid to the singer Alvin Stardust, Renowned newspaper editor Ben Bradlee passes away, Former Australian PM Gough Whitlam passes away , Tributes are paid to actress Lynda Bellingham, Hundreds attend Memorial Service for Ian Paisley, Tributes are paid to actress Marian Seldes, Cancer remains top cause of death, Country singer George Hamilton IV passes away, Songwriter Bob Crewe passes away, Funeral takes place of Ian Paisley, Tributes are paid to Lord Attenborough, Albert Reynolds is given State Funeral, Tributes are paid to broadcaster Gerry Anderson, Tributes are paid to veteran actor JJ Murphy, Tribute are paid to former DJ Mike Smith, Funeral takes place of Churchwoman Lynda Patterson, Supermarket founder Karl Albrecht passes away, Actor James Garner passes away, Tributes are paid to Elaine Stritch, Tributes are paid to Presbyterian minister, Punk rocker Tommy Ramone passes away, Footballing legent Alfredo Di Stefano passes away, Tributes are paid to jazz musician Paul Horn, Tributes are paid to soul legend Bobby Womack, MBE for inspirational teenager Stephen Sutton, Actress and activist Ruby Dee passes away, Author Eric Hill passes away, Tributes are paid to Rik Mayall, Funeral takes place of Sir John Gorman, Former film star Mona Freeman passes away, Actress Ann B Davis passes away, Judges rule on remains of King Richard III, Smithfield legend Joe Kavanagh passes away, Singer Jerry Vale passes away, Comedian Eli Woods passes away, Shankill pays tribute to Hugh Smyth, Inspirational teenager Stephen Sutton passes away, Colourful funeral for brave Oscar Knox, Scientist Colin Pillinger passes away, Former boxing champion Jimmy Ellis passes away, Tributes are paid to Elena Baltacha, Paul Robeson Junior passes away, Tributes are paid to former footballer Sandy Jardine, Headstones are damaged at a Belfast cemetery, Tributes are paid to popular politician, Generous response in wake of marathon tragedy, Tributes are paid to actress Edna Dore, Private funeral is planned for Mickey Rooney, Country musician Arthur Smith passes away, Comedy writer Bob Larbey passes away, Surfing pioneer Hobie Alter passes away, Writer Sam McAughtry passes away, Internet sensation Peter Oakley passes away, Tributes are paid to actor James Rebhorn or Funeral takes place of James Ellis

If you have a relative or a friend who has passed away and feel they should be mentioned in our In the News section, then please email us.