From Slavia through war, prison and emigration to nine trophies as Barcelona manager. Read the story of Ferdinand Daučík.Ferdinand Daučík, famous defender of Slovak origin (born in 1910 in Southern Slovakia) started his senior career in ČsSK Bratislava, the biggest Slovak club of its time. The player nicknamed “Nandi” or “Gandhi” spent almost 5 years in Bratislava and caught the eye of football fans with his physical appearance, perfect technique firm shooting and great sense for the game. He became regular in strong Czechoslovak national team and his talent couldn’t be avoided by the biggest Czechoslovak club – Slavia Prague.
In 1934 Daučík moved to Slavia and helped the club to win Czechoslovak league in 1934/35. “Nandi” became one of Slavia heroes and captain of the team after legendary goalkeeper František Plánička. In 1938 he led Slavia to their triumph in Mitropa Cup – the most prestigious competition of continental Europe of the first half of 20th century. In the same year he represented Czechoslovakia on FIFA World Cup in France.
War, prison and emigration
After the end of his career he became youth coach in Slavia but after the outbreak of the second world war he had to return to Slovakia. For more than 4 years he remained coach of his former club ČsSK. During the war Daučík helped the resistance movement, but after the onset of communist regime in Czechoslovakia he was marked as enemy of the state and imprisoned. Thanks to his football experience he was given an opportunity to manage Slovak side Sokol NV Prievidza and leave the prison camp for their games. In 1949 he used this opportunity to emigrate from Czechoslovakia with his entire family.
The Kubala’s condition
In Italian refugee camp he founded football team consisting of the refugees from Eastern bloc called FC Hungaria. After several games in Italy the team went on a tour to Spain defeating even Spanish national team. Local clubs became interested in Hungaria players and the biggest fight broke out around another Slovak Ladislav Kubala. Kubala became close to transfer to Real Madrid, but his condition was Daučík becoming manager of the club. Santiago Bernabeu – the then boss of Real – refused and Kubala together with Daučík moved to Barcelona when the club agreed on their condition.
One year, five trophies
In his first game under Daučík as a manager Barcelona defeated Sociedad 8:2, two weeks later The Blaugranas scored seven against Real Madrid and recorded one of the most famous victories over their main rival. In 1950/51 season Barcelona eventually finished fourth in the league but won the Copa del Rey (Copa del Generalísimo).
The following season Daučík (and Kubala too) lived up to their full potential. The Catalan side won the league, the Copa del Rey and also the international Latin Cup beating Nice in Parc des Princes in Paris. With 5 trophies in a single year Barcelona set a record which wasn’t overcome till Pep Guardiola’s era. In 1952/53 FCB defended their league title and seized the Cup for the third time in a row.
Double for Bilbao
One year later legendary Alfredo di Stefano reinforced Madrid and the club from Spanish capital won the league. Barcelona finished without major trophy and the club management decided to dismiss 44-year old Daučík. Era of one of the most successful Barcelona managers thus ended. In 1954 Ferdinand Daučík joined Athletic Bilbao winning Copa del Generalísimo his first season, La Liga/Copa del Generalísimo double in 1955 and reached European Cup quarter-final in the same year.
Later during 1960s and 1970s Daučík became manager of several Spanish and Portuguese clubs such as Atlético Madrid, Real Betis, FC Porto, Sevilla, Real Zaragoza (Copa del Generalísimo 1965/66), Elche or Espanyol. In 1968/69 he reunited with his son-in-law Ladislav Kubala in Canada managing Toronto Falcons.
Ferdinand Daučík died in Spain in 1986, aged 76. His book “Escape to the bench of Barcelona” was published in 2017.