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The Spanish footballer who was a KGB agent

Agustín Gómez Pagola, during the test match with Atlético de Madrid | Wikipedia | Wikipedia

On November 18, 1922, Agustín Gómez Pagola was born in Renteria, Guipúzcoa. From that moment, his fate was sealed. For football, and politics. It was, in its own way, an important piece in both. Always marked by his character, more than by his qualities, which were obviously not scarce either. In both cases he was able to do more. In both cases he was able to do less. But in both cases he became a benchmark. Especially in Soviet lands, much more esteemed than in his homeland …

After a relatively simple childhood, everything changed, like the rest of the country, in the complicated political and war situation of Spain in the 1930s.

At the beginning of 1938, when he was barely 15 years old, Pagola was sent, along with many other children, to the USSR, so that they would not be affected by the Spanish Civil War. Are the called Children of Russia. Some victims doubly affected, because shortly after their arrival they also had to suffer the consequences of World War II.

Our protagonist landed in Odessa, a port city of present-day Ukraine. And there he began to practice a sport that he had fallen in love with during his childhood in the streets of Renteria: soccer. It started in the Krásnaya Roza. And shortly after it would become part of the Krylya Sovetov, a set of greater substance in the city of Samara.

After concluding the war, the Soviet government decided to concentrate in Moscow all the Spaniards exiled up to that moment throughout the country. There they will offer them work, especially in industrial companies. And that’s where Agustín Gómez Pagola will be able to show how well he does in football.

Your team will be the Moscow torpedo, one of the largest in the country (and currently playing in the Eduard Streltsov Stadium, whose story we have already told here).

In the group related to the automobile industry Pagola would win two Soviet cups, in 1949 and 1952. He played as a left-back, with a fierce football not without quality and great nobility, which would lead him to be in a short time Team Captain, to be remembered forever as the “legendary Basque”.

His quality also led him to be cited by the USSR national football team. He would even score a goal, against Hungary. And Pagola was called to be part of the team that would play the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. The first to play the Soviet Union. Although finally the legendary basque I would not dispute any minute.

The return to Spain

In 1956 the Regime allowed the return of some exiles. And among them was Pagola, who he returned to Spain with his wife and a brother aboard the Crimea ship.

Several were the teams that were interested in having a footballer who came from abroad and who enjoyed a certain prestige. Among them, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid.

It was the mattress team who could have a test with the footballer. A test that did not go well. After several months of inactivity, the left-hander did not work well in the friendly match against Fortuna Dusseldorf. Atlético decided not to sign him.

Pagola then returned to his native Renteria, where began to act as a coach, especially from quarry, combined with his work in an electric motor company in San Sebastián.

But what nobody knew at that time in Spain is that Agustín Gómez Pagola had returned as KGB agent. During his stay in the Soviet Union, the footballer had joined the CPSU, and had been recruited by the Soviet government to work in its intelligence services.

A convinced communist, in Spain he tried to promote the ideals that he had lived in Moscow. It was leader of the Euskadiko Partidu Komunista – the Basque Communist Party – in Guipúzcoa, and was part of the Spanish Communist Party, becoming a member of the Central Committee. At home, the important meetings of the party were frequent, to which Dolores Ibárruri attended on more than one occasion. Outside, his trips to different European cities with the aim of organizing the Spanish communists in exile were common.

An intense activity that would stop in 1960, when it was detected by the authorities. Is sent to the Carabanchel jail, detention before which different national and international movements take place, under the umbrella of the CPSU, which end up pressuring the Regime to release him. He will march to Venezuela, where he continues to work for the KGB in clandestine operations.

The weight of Agustín Gómez Pagola within the PCE increased, to the point of face Santiago Carrillo. While the former was openly faithful to orthodox Soviet ideals, the latter approached what would eventually be called eurocommunism.

The last conflict was the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, before which Pagola is in favor of the intervention, while Carillo condemned the interference. The confrontation ended with the expulsion of the former PCE footballer, forming together with other militants the PCE (VIII and IX Congress).

Agustín Gómez Pagola decided to return to Moscow, where he would live until November 16, 1975. There were two days left until he was 53 years old and four until Francisco Franco died. He is buried in the Moscow cemetery of Donskoi, and on his tombstone you can read, in Spanish, “Communist leader”


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