Almost certainly the best Barça left-back in history before Sergi Barjuán and Jordi Alba appeared. Born in Asturias in 1958, Julio Alberto came through the ranks of Atlético de Madrid, but, after not managing enough playtime with the Rojiblancos, he was loaned out to Recreativo de Huelva for the 1978/80. Then he returned to Atleti and established himself as their starter, with 59 La Liga games over the following two seasons. This attracted interest from Barcelona, who signed the then-23-year-old in 1982.
It’s at the Camp Nou where the Asturian won all the titles of his career. As a very offensive-minded full-back, he stood out for his speed and skill. He had a quality in his left foot that was unusual for a left-back in that era. The Spaniard was relentless and hardworking, as he never stopped running up and down the left flank.
In 1885 the Catalans won La Liga, while a year later Julio Alberto scored an iconic goal against Juve in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the European Cup. Julio wasn’t a regular goalscorer, but that was a crucial and stunning low strike from long range, as Barça eventually beat Juve by 2–1 on aggregate and later made it to the European final. Sadly, there they lost to Steaua București in the penalty shootout.
Julio Alberto was unlucky to be part of the Barça of the 1980s, a somewhat traumatic generation for culés. Schuster, Maradona, Quini…all played for the blaugranas, but the team was only capable of winning one La Liga, two Copas del Rey, and not much more. Barcelona by that time seemed to be the perpetual bridesmaids, finishing behind the Basques at first, and later behind Madrid’s Quinta del Buitre.
Then, when Cruyff took over as the manager in 1988 to change their dynamics, Julio had a more secondary role due to Johan’s squad remodelling. In the 3–4–3, Julio Alberto was more suited to midfield or the wing than to the back 3, even if he was highly competent both in attack and in defence. After only 3 appearances in his final season, the historic left-back retired in Barcelona in 1991.