Just last month FC Barcelona mourned the loss of their iconic former player and manager Johan Cruyff. The Catalan club is once again in mourning today as it was announced late last night that the club’s stadium announcer Manel Vich had sadly passed away aged 78. Some might say this is no big deal but Vich had become the voice of FC Barcelona.
Manel Vich was the clubs announcer for almost 60 years and during that time he only missed four matches – three through ill health and one for his daughters wedding. He covered Barcelona games for local radio station Radio Hospitalet before landing his dream job in 1956. He began announcing the teams and substitutions along with any other announcements at Les Corts – Barcelona’s stadium before the Camp Nou. His voice became part and parcel of Barcelona home games from then on. Vich was lucky enough to see the likes of Cruyff,Kubala,Stoichkov,Guardiola,Ronaldinho and Messi line out for Barca. He stated last year that Kubala was his favourite player of all time because his goals made Les Corts too small and led to the Camp Nou being built.
Vich took pride in being the only stadium announcer in Spain to begin with ‘Bona tarda a tothom i benvinguts a l’estadi!’ (Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the stadium) He said the only thing he needed to prepare his voice was a single cigarette. Manel was loved by fans and player alike, his voice had a dignified air of respect, politeness and responsibility. Former players took to Twitter last night to pay tribute to the club legend including Bojan and Gerard Delulofeu. Ronaldinho paid tribute to Vich when playing at Barca celebrating a goal in his honour.
FC Barcelona have announced three days of official mourning and all of the club’s teams will observe a minutes silence and wear black armbands in his honour this weekend. His voice became synonymous with the experience of watching a game at the Camp Nou. The club have said home games will never be the same without him. You can watch a short documentary on ‘the voice of Barca’ here.
For one last time, Bona tarda a tothom i benvinguts a l’estadi.
May he rest in peace.