GIJON, Spain – A wide array of soccer stars, clubs and fans honored on Wednesday the late Spain striker Enrique Castro, best known as “Quini,” who played for Sporting Gijon and Barcelona and for Spain in the 1978 and 1982 World Cups.
Thousands of fans joined former players in Gijon to pay their respects to the beloved player at El Molinon stadium, which is to be renamed after Quini, who died Tuesday at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack.
Soccer legend Diego Maradona, who shared two seasons at Barcelona with Quini from 1982-84, described him as “an exceptional man” and “the kind of scorer that no longer exists” in a message on social media.
La Liga sides Barcelona and Real Madrid were among those paying tribute to Quini, with Barça coach Ernesto Valverde saying “He’s a person who meant a lot in footballing terms. He was a born goal-scorer and he was easy going, affectionate and good company.”
For its part, Real Madrid stated “Quini was a legend of the Spanish game and a role model of the values of the sport that he represented throughout his career, both on and off the field, in such exemplary fashion.”
The president of the European parliament, Antonio Tajani, also mourned the loss of Quini in a post on Twitter with a photo showing the two visiting the Sporting Gijon museum together, and called him a great soccer player and a greater person.
Meanwhile, the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, praised the historic proportions of the late player, describing him as “the Spanish Maradona.”
Quini spent most of his career at Sporting Gijon, playing there from 1968 to 1980, at which point he spent four successful years at Barcelona, then returned to Gijon for a final three years until his retirement in 1987.