George Pattullo, l’Ecossais oublié du Barça



Lionel Messi terminera sans doute sa carrière avec tous les records possibles à Barcelone. Mais il risque de lui en manquer un, détenu par l’Ecossais George Pattullo. La première grande star du club.
Né à Glasgow le 4 novembre 1888, Pattullo connaît une enfance classique de la classe moyenne écossaise : études dans une école privée et pratique de plusieurs sports, tennis, golf et rugby principalement. La vingtaine passée, il accoste en Catalogne, visiblement envoyé par sa famille pour des intérêts dans l’industrie du charbon.

À la mi-temps, comme cela se faisait parfois au tournant du XXe siècle, il change de poste avec un joueur de champ

Un dimanche, à Badalone, une ville à une dizaine de kilomètres de Barcelone, il rejoint une équipe d’expatriés britanniques pour disputer un match. Et surtout pour participer au copieux dîner d’après l’effort : un gros plat de poulet avec du riz, comme l’expliquent Manuel Tomas et Frederic Porta, les auteurs de Barça Inédito.

Gardien en première période, Pattullo est impuissant (1-5). A la mi-temps, comme cela se faisait parfois au tournant du XXe siècle, il change de poste avec un joueur de champ. Et là, c’est la révélation. George inscrit cinq buts avec une grâce incroyable, permettant aux siens de s’imposer 6-5. Encore plus fort, c’est après cet exploit que Hans Gamper, le fondateur du Barça, le signe pour la saison 1910-11.

Le temps altère les mémoires et mythifie parfois le passé, c’est bien connu, mais l’exploit de Pattullo a bien existé, confirmé par sa descendance, les historiens du club et deux personnes travaillant sur une biographie du « héros oublié du Barça ». En 24 matchs officiels, l’Ecossais marquera 43 buts, un ratio qui ne sera sans doute jamais battu.

Amateur jusqu’au-boutiste, George a toujours refusé la moindre peseta

Bien sûr, c’était une autre époque et la Liga, comme on l’entend, n’existait pas encore, tout comme le professionnalisme, du moins officiellement. Officieusement, des billets étaient glissés dans les chaussures des joueurs après les rencontres.

Amateur jusqu’au-boutiste, George a toujours refusé la moindre peseta, qu’importe la discipline. Il excellait pourtant au tennis où il a par exemple remporté la Garriga Tennis Cup en août 1910, ainsi qu’un tournoi de double avec Ernesto Witty, l’une des figures emblématiques des premières années du Barça.

Son amour pour le tennis l’a d’ailleurs privé de plusieurs rencontres avec les Blaugrana, ce qui pénalisait grandement son équipe selon la presse de l’époque. Une presse ayant eu toutes les peines du monde à orthographier correctement son prénom et son nom : George Pattullo a ainsi été connu comme l’Anglais John Patullo, Patulo et même Jordi !

Bizarrement, l’Ecossais est entré dans la légende l’année suivante, alors qu’il était retourné vivre en Ecosse

Bizarrement, l’Ecossais est entré dans la légende l’année suivante, alors qu’il était retourné vivre en Ecosse. Il reçoit alors un télégramme de Joaquim Peris de Vergas, l’un des dirigeants du Barça, lui demandant de revenir le temps d’un match, pour la demi-finale de la Coupe des Pyrénées contre l’Espanyol.

Les jours passent, aucune réponse.  »Et finalement, le jeudi avant le match, il reçut un télégramme. ‘Je serai là vendredi’, voilà tout ce que ça disait. Il avait été envoyé depuis Londres et ne portait aucune signature », a relaté en 1928 un large article du Mundo Deportivo sur l’héritage laissé par Pattullo.  »Plus tard, il a expliqué qu’il n’avait pas voulu le signer pour empêcher l’Espanyol de deviner la possibilité de son retour, car il savait qu’un ancien joueur du club, Green, travaillait dans une officine de télégramme. »

Malgré les précautions, la rumeur s’est répandue à Barcelone. Le vendredi soir, plusieurs membres de l’Espanyol sont allés vérifier en gare si le train depuis Paris n’avait pas un passager de marque. C’est Gibert, le gardien de l’époque, qui a vu en premier George descendre sur le quai. C’est le même Gibert qui, le lendemain, le 10 mars 1912, a concédé un doublé de Pattullo, qui a provoqué aussi un penalty, permettant au Barça de se qualifier en finale après prolongation (3-2).

Au-delà du footballeur, à qui on attribue également la première reprise de volée vue sur un terrain en Catalogne, George était un sportsman

Au-delà du footballeur, à qui on attribue également la première reprise de volée vue sur un terrain en Catalogne, George était un sportsman, un homme de bonne famille pratiquant plusieurs sports pour son plaisir et revendiquant un amateurisme pur. Quand le club a voulu lui rembourser ses frais et son hôtel, l’Ecossais a refusé, renvoyant tout l’argent au Barça.

C’est cette mentalité qui a d’ailleurs inspiré beaucoup de jeunes, dont un certain Paulino Alcantara, docteur de profession et second meilleur buteur de l’histoire après Messi.

Texte : Romain MOLINA

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