Telmo Zarra

20 Jan 1921
23 Feb 2006
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Telmo Zarraonandia Montoya (20 January 1921 – 23 February 2006), professionally known as Zarra was a Spanish Basque football forward. The majority of his career was spent at Athletic Bilbao from 1940 to 1955, for whom he is the highest top scorer in competitive matches with 251 goals.

Signing with Athletic after playing one season for Erandio, he became a prolific goalscorer for Athletic in his 15 seasons at the club, winning The Pichichi Trophy for highest scorer in the league on six occasions. Until Lionel Messi surpassed him on November 22, 2014, Zarra had scored more league goals (251) than any other player in Spanish football history, and his 81 goals in the Copa del Rey remain a record. He previously shared the record for most goals scored in a season: 38 times in 1950–51, beaten in the 2010–11 La Liga season by Cristiano Ronaldo with 40 and the 2011–12 La Liga season by Lionel Messi with 50 goals.

Despite his goalscoring records, he only played for Spain twenty times. Even so, he still managed to score 20 goals, including four in one historic match when Spain beat Switzerland 6–3 on 18 February 1951. He also scored his country’s winning goal against England in the 1950 World Cup finals as Spain reached the final four – their best performance in the competition until winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup 60 years later.

After leaving Bilbao in 1955, he played for one year with SD Indautxu and another with Barakaldo before retiring. He died of a heart attack on 24 February 2006, aged 85. The Zarra Trophy for the highest-scoring Spaniard in La Liga is awarded in his memory.

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