Lángara in the cover of El Gráfico magazine.
|Full name||Isidro Lángara Galarraga|
|Date of birth||25 May 1912|
|Place of birth||Pasaia, Spain|
|Date of death||21 August 1992(aged 80)|
|Place of death||Andoain, Spain|
|1938–1939||Club Deportivo Euzkadi|
|1939–1943||San Lorenzo de Almagro||121||(110)|
|1943–1946||Real Club España||68||(105)|
|1938–1939||Euzkadi (Basque Country)||8||(17)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Lángara began his football career playing for local teams, Bildur Guchi, Esperanza de San Sebastián, Siempre Adelante de Pasajes and Andoain in his native Basque country, eventually signing for then third division team Tolosa CF. When he turned 18 his goalscoring abilities were recognized by second division team Real Oviedo, a club with whom he would remain for 6 years until the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936.
At Oviedo he was the figurehead of the celebrated Delantera Eléctrica, a forward line of lightning quick youthful talent that steam-rolled teams with high tempo highly skilled play; but for the onset of war the team would have surely improved upon the two-third places in the seasons that preceded the war.
He was the winner of the Pichichi Trophy, awarded to the top scorer in the Spanish League, in the three seasons before the war, with 27 goals in 1933–34, 26 goals in 1934–35 and 28 goals in 1935–36. Even before that he was top scorer in the Spanish second division the year Real Oviedo was promoted.
During his first spell in Oviedo he is recognized to have score 281 goals in 220 games, this includes 231 goals in 160 competitive games. In the season 1933–34 he scored an unprecedented 60 goals in 32 games for Oviedo and another 9 goals in 5 games for the Spanish national team, this is still the highest single season goalscoring count for any Spanish born footballer.
With the onset of war he joined the Republican side. In 1937 he played exhibition games around Europe with the Basque National team to raise funds for the war effort.
When Bilbao fell to the falange the team traveled to the Americas touring Cuba, Mexico and Argentina. In 1938 they joined the Mexican Liga Mayor under the name Euzkadi, finishing second. After the civil war ended in 1939 the team dissolved and Lángara traveled to Argentina in search of a new team, as a republican he could not return to Spain without risking harsh repression.
On the advise from his teammate Ángel Zubieta he joined San Lorenzo de Almagro. His debut in 1939 was against perennial league champions River Plate and he scored 4 goals in a 4–2 victory, after arriving to Argentina in the morning of the same day. In 1940 Langara was the joint top scorer in the Argentine Primera with 33 goals in 34 games (his record in Argentina playing for San Lorenzo – 110 goals in 121 matches). He also holds the record of scoring most goals in a match in Argentina – 7 – that still stands today.
With Langara San Lorenzo became an Argentine top side eventually breaking the River Plate monopoly and winning the Argentinian league title, Lángara was San Lorenzo's star player alongside René Pontoni (courted by Barcelona but remained in Argentina) and Reinaldo Martino (who would later become a star with Juventus). Although he never won the league with San Lorenzo the team finished twice in second place and won the Copa de Confraternidad Escobar – Gerona, an official trophy organized between the second placed teams from Argentina and Uruguay. With Lángara San Lorenzo also reach the final of the Copa Adrián C. Escobar in 1939.
With the emergence of a professional league in Mexico in 1943, Langara signed to Real Club España where he would win his first and only national league titel. In the Mexican league he was top scorer twice, in 1944 and 1946. Still today he is the only footballer in history to be top scorer in major leagues on three different continents; only Alfredo Di Stefano, Romário and Ruud van Nistelrooy have matched the feat of being top scorer in three separate countries. In 1946 he was awarded CONCACAF player of the year – the top player in all the northern and Central American leagues.
After many years abroad Langara was offered the chance of returning to Spain to play for Real Oviedo, again. The following season, 1946–47 and back in Spain, he scored a respectable 18 goals for the team. This tally left him fourth, behind Zarra, Pruden and Calvo for the Pichichi Trophy, proving that at 34 years of age he could still perform at the highest level. At the end of the season Langara stunned Oviedo by announcing his retirement and emigrating back to live in Mexico.
After retirement he spent the majority of his years in South America returning to his home region in Spain in his late seventies where he died in 1992.
His managerial career is sketchy but his achievements are as follows:
He managed Club de Deportes Unión Española in 1951 winning the Chilean league title.
He managed Puebla F.C. in 1952–53 winning the Mexican Cup Final.
About the footballer
As as footballer Isidro Lángara was famed for his athleticism, author of numerous "Impossible goals" he often scored from far out on the pitch. One particular famous occasion was on the opening matchday of the 1933–34 season when his Oviedo faced FC Barcelona winning the match 7–3. On that day Lángara scored twice from set pieces around 50 metres out. When recounting the event, then Espanyol goalkeeper Lázaro Florenza noted "he scored an impossible goal, not once but twice". A few weeks later Lázaro was himself victim of a similar free kick by Lángara. His physical stature was noted by teammates the day of his debut with San Lorenzo when he was asked whether he was a footballer or a wrestler. At San Lorenzo he became famous for his extremely powerful shot scoring often from long distance.
Note: According to IFFHS Isidro Lángara scored 336 goals in 287 first division games, his games and goals for Euzkadi are entirely based on the assumption that IFFHS has counted correct.