Following hot on the heels of the contract renewal for Irish kid Zac Gilsenan comes another strong Irish connection at Camp Nou with the appointment of coach Gerardo Martino. The Argentinian coach comes to Barcelona from Newell's Old Boys but it was in Paraguay that he made his name in management, winning the league 4 times in the early 2000s.
The Irish connection however comes from the final days of his playing career as he turned out for Chilean side O'Higgins. This Racunga based club was of course named after the Chilean Independence leader Bernardo O'Higgins who freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean war of Independence. Bernardo went on to hold the office of Supreme Dictator of Chile, a title that might not fly these days but was surely pretty of its time back in 1817.
Bernardo O'Higgins father Ambrose O’Higgins was born in Ballynary, County Sligo and worked as an engineer for the Spanish Crown in Chile when he met 18 year old, Isobel Riquelme while enjoying a stay at her father's residence. There appears to be a large age gap of 40 years between the two, but we can't be sure so we'll give Ambrose the benefit of the doubt.
So if we needed any more persuading to make O'Higgins our number one Chilean football club, there is a statue of the man himself in Dublin's Merrion Square, someone get down there and put a "Province's Boss" scarf on him.
So Zac if you are reading this, start brushing up on your Irish-Chilean history..