Alberto Spencer

Alberto Spencer

Alberto Spencer (1966)
Personal information
Full name Alberto Pedro Spencer Herrera
Date of birth (1937-12-06)December 6, 1937
Place of birth Ancón, Santa Elena, Ecuador
Date of death November 3, 2006(2006-11-03) (aged 68)
Place of death Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1953–1959 Everest 90 (101)
1960–1970 Peñarol 166 (113)
1971–1972 Barcelona SC 20 (13)
Total 276 (227)
National team
1959–1972 Ecuador 11 (4)
1964–1967 Uruguay 6 (2)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Spencer and the second or maternal family name is Herrera.

Alberto Pedro Spencer Herrera (December 6, 1937 – November 3, 2006) was an Uruguayan-Ecuadorian football player, regarded as the best Ecuadorian footballer. He is probably best known for his still-standing record for scoring the most goals in the Copa Libertadores, the most important club tournament in South America. He was elected the 20th best South American footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the IFFHS in 2004.[1] He was known as "Cabeza Mágica" (Spanish for magic head).


Born in Ancón, Guayas, Ecuador, Spencer was the son of a Jamaican of British origin.[2]

He was an ambidextrous striker with lethal pace, off-the-ball movement, heading and balance skills, and excellent finishing, that tore defences to shreds for over a decade. After his retirement in 1973, he lived in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1982, he was appointed consul of Ecuador in Uruguay.

Spencer suffered a heart attack on September 14, 2006 during a routine checkup with his cardiologist. He died on November 3, 2006 in the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. His line survives through his Chilean wife María Teresa, his children Alberto, Walter, Jacqueline and his grandchildren.[3]


Alberto Spencer began his career at age 15 playing for Everest. He jumped to fame when he was scouted while playing on loan for Barcelona SC against Peñarol in July 1959. Peñarol's manager, Hugo Bagnulo, asked his scout 'Pibe' Ortega to attempt to sign him after the game was over. He was soon transferred to Peñarol where he amassed three Libertadores Cups and two Intercontinental Cups, as well as several Uruguayan league titles. After his second Intercontinental Cup, he was twice sought by Inter, but ultimately Peñarol's board would not sell him.[4]

On the international front, Spencer holds the unique distinction of being the only goalscorer, capped by two different countries simultaneously: Ecuador, and Uruguay. He 'switched' shirts no less than four times. He played for Uruguay against England (2-1) in a friendly match at the legendary Wembley Stadium and scored, making him the first Ecuadorian-born player to score in that stadium.

His name was omitted from FIFA's, and Pelé's list of 100 greatest living players. This caused outrage among many South American journalists who believed greats like Spencer, were being ignored in favour of commercialism. David Mellor of the Evening Standard notably blasted FIFA in his reporting of the incident.

Although widely considered one of the best South American players of all time, he still remains largely an unknown figure in Europe. This is presumably due to his having never participated in a World Cup or playing in Europe. Similar fates awaited other greats such as Alfredo Di Stéfano and George Best, though both are far more known due to their domestic careers with Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively.

He was elected the 20th South America Player of the Century in a poll by the IFFHS in 2004.


Spencer still maintains the South American club record in Copa Libertadores, with his tally of 54 goals between 1960 and 1972, playing for Everest of Guayaquil, Barcelona of Guayaquil, and Peñarol (Uruguay). During that period, he walked away as winner of the competition three times (1960, 1961, 1966 all of them playing for Peñarol (Uruguay)) and was winner of the Intercontinental Cup twice, beating Eusebio's Benfica and Real Madrid, and was runner-up once. In fact, his Intercontinental goal tally is only one goal behind the all-time record of his more famous contemporary, Pelé.

Spencer was also four times the leading scorer of Uruguay's League with Peñarol, helping them to win the Uruguayan championship eight times during his 12-year stay. Throughout his professional career, he scored a grand total of 450 goals, surpassing 500, if friendlies were taken into account.


The next time you hit the blackie I will kill you, because he is the one that feeds us
Someone that headed better than me was Spencer. I was good (in heading), but he was spectacular heading the ball. In general, he would do it with a burst, but without actually sprinting.

Career statistics

Only counting official matches for Peñarol and Barcelona SC

Club Season League Copa Libertadores Intercontinental Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Peñarol 1959 10----10
1960 161077212518
1961 181843322523
1962 181666--2422
1963 15945--1914
1964 66----66
1965 1712----1712
1966 166126233015
1967 141132--1713
1968 1181410--2518
1969 145102--247
1970 2012107--3019
Total 166113704876 243 167
Barcelona 1971 1813115--2918
1972 2061--81
Total 2013176-- 37 19
Career total 186126875476280186



Uruguay Peñarol

Primera División: 7

Copa Libertadores: 3

Intercontinental Cup: 2

Supercopa de Campeones Intercontinentales: 1

Ecuador Barcelona

Serie A: 1


Copa Libertadores top scorer: 2

Primera División top scorer: 4


  1. IFFHS' Century Elections Archived March 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. - - by Karel Stokkermans, RSSSF, 2000.
  2. Rob Smyth (24 March 2010). "The worst English champions ever (sort of)?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  4. "Better than Pele?". Estadio. 2006-11-15. Retrieved 2006-11-11.

External links

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