It was the 25th of May, 1996. Atlético were playing against Albacete during the last match of Liga 1995/96. They had already won the Copa del Rey a month before, and a victory against Albacete would mean the first ever ‘Double’ for Atlético.
Diego Simeone had scored an early goal and the match was under control, but there was still a real risk of losing the league. Then, Molina saves a corner kick from Albacete, and launches the ball forward. Kiko controls a bouncing ball with his knee before slotting it into the back of the net, making it 2-0.
He wheels away and blows a kiss to the Atleti fans that were in heaven. The Doblete was complete – the dream had finally come true.
Francisco Narváez was born in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) in 1972. He started playing football from an early age at his hometown team CD Pueblo Nuevo.
He was 13 when he joined the Cádiz CF youth ranks, where he had the chance to play at Primera División when he was just 19 years old.
His childhood idol, “Mágico” González was his teammate. Little did Kiko know that some years later, and at another team, he was going to fulfil the role of ‘idol’, when a young Fernando Torres was excited to share the locker room with him.
Kiko stayed at Cádiz for two more seasons until he was signed by Atlético de Madrid in 1993. He was not able to show his abilities due to the reigning instability, and he played under nine different coaches during his first two seasons.
One of the highlights of these years was the match against FC Barcelona during the 1993/94 season. Romario had scored a hat-trick in the first half, and a reporter asked Kiko on his way to the lockers: “What are you going to do on the second half?”.
Kiko answered: “The same that they have done during the first half”. Atlético won that match 4-3.
Summer of 1995. Jesús Gil presents his new project for the season, this time trusting in the Serbian Radomir Antic as coach. For the first time ever, Gil did not try to ‘coach the coach’ and he left Antic alone.
Kiko admits that Radomir was the first coach who encouraged him to try headers. “You are tall enough to head the ball after a corner, do not be afraid to do so, it will be good for us”, and he was right. Atlético became ruthless from set pieces, where Kiko had a prominent role heading the ball.
The immediate years after the Doblete were great for Kiko. He was a creative second striker who was ready to either score, or set up a goal for the main striker (he led the assists in La Liga on season).
One of his classic moves was receiving the ball with his back to goal, controlling it with his chest, raise it with the foot, turn around and strike. He did that so often that the rival teams eventually decided to mark him with two players (one at each side) every time that he was ready to pull his move.
It was during those days when he made for the first time his ‘trademark celebration’, known as ‘the Archer’. He later admitted that his intention was not to make an archer and he only wanted to stay still for some seconds looking at the fans enjoying the goal, but he thought it was silly to do nothing meanwhile, so he pulled the first pose that came to his mind.
Off the pitch, Kiko was one of fan-favourites, always nice and ready to drop a ‘one-liner’ at any interview. He was a favourite for his teammates too, cheering everybody up telling a joke, and trying to make every new player feel welcomed.
Before the days of players listening to music through huge headphones, he used to take cassettes with the funny music from the Cádiz “Charangas” to listen on the team bus, making everyone sing along.
As any creative striker, he was the target of rival defenders for his whole career. He suffered several ankle injuries that restricted his play, and he became a shadow of himself during his last years at Atleti.
After the relegation at the end of 1999/2000 season, he decided to stay with the team and he was the protagonist of the famous ad “Un añito en el Infierno” (“A little year in hell”). The first season in Segunda División was worse then expected, and Kiko was almost signed by Milan, but the poor state of his ankles stopped the transfer.
A portion of the fans did not forgive him and the “Kiko-Gol” chants were replaced by other shameful songs. Later he moved to CF Extremadura, where he played until his early retirement at 30 due to his ankle problems.
After football, he started a career as TV and radio pundit. He is nowadays a regular at Canal+and Cadena SER, besides some other collaborations with other Spanish Media.
The time helps to heal the injuries of the memory, and most Atleti fans now remember Kiko fondly. He did not leave Atleti in the best terms with the club and the fans, but he will be always remembered as that magician from Cádiz who was an important part of Atleti history, both in heaven and hell.
An idol for the ‘Doblete Generation’. That ‘Archer’ who shot football arrows to the crowd. That ‘Kiko turn’ raising the ball in front of the goal, or the kiss after scoring against Albacete.
‘El Duende’, the artist from Cádiz. Francisco Narváez Machón: ‘Kiko-Gol’.