LaLiga Santander Spoke to Idolos about the curious deal
Joan Gaspart has recalled the time he dressed up as a waiter to bring Ronaldo Nazario to Barcelona.
Gaspart spent three years as Barcelona president between 2000 and 2003, before Joan Laporta‘s reign began.
“The signing of Ronaldo was out of a film,” he told the YouTube channel Idolos. “There was a problem because PSV [Eindhoven] backed out of selling him to us and included a clause in his contract that cancelled the transfer if the player didn’t sign by a certain date.
“The days went by and Ronaldo‘s contract didn’t arrive, so Jose Luis Nunez [the president before Gaspart] sent me to Miami, where the Brazilian national team were based, to make him sign it.
“I arrived and wasn’t able to see Ronaldo very easily. There were some bouncers at his door in the hotel and they had orders not to let anyone through. I couldn’t beat the two-metre-tall bouncers up because they’d have sent my flying with a single punch, but something occurred to me.
“I managed to get a hotel waiter to lend me his bow tie and jacket and he gave me a tray with a Coca-Cola on it. I went up to the floor the team were on in the lift and there were two bouncers there. I told them I had a drink for Ronaldo and I went in.
“I introduced myself to Ronaldo and he called his agent and told them that he’d been caught. I told him that we’d complain if he didn’t sign and, in the end, an agreement was sped up. We hugged on the bed in his hotel room and finalised everything.”
Gaspart also remembered the time when he risked spending 100 million pesetas of his own money on Hristo Stoichkov.
“I even spent some of my own money on signing players, such was my passion for Barcelona,” he said. “One of those was Hristo Stoichkov. If it wasn’t for Joan Gaspart, he would’ve gone to [Paris Saint-Germain]. He was a relatively well-known player and, although he was a phenomenon, Barcelona didn’t want to sign him because it was a risk.
“Josep Maria Minguella [a former member of the Barcelona board] signed him personally and when Stoichkov showed that he was a great player, Barcelona assigned him to Minguella and he didn’t cost a peseta more than I would’ve paid for him.
“When Barcelona had to renew his contract, they only offered him two years and he wanted three. He had an offer of three years. The president didn’t want long contracts because it was dangerous. Barcelona signed him for two years and I did him a contract that if Barcelona didn’t renew his contract, I paid him 100 million pesetas.
“My promise hinged on the club paying him a third year. I was lucky because Stoichkov renewed for another year with Barcelona and then another. The day that he signed the third year was a relief.”