Before Alex Aguinaga, there was Alberto Spencer. If there was a player that was a true ambassador to Ecuadorian football it was him as he was the keystone in one of the most dominant teams of the 1960’s in world football.
The Ecuadorian international can be considered among one of the greatest players to have never participated in a World Cup. His records haven’t been touched even after close to four decades. Known as one of the most dominant goalscorers of his era, Alberto Spencer terrified defenses during the late 50’s and throughout the 60’s.
A native of Ancón, whose parents were Jamaican of English descent, Spencer showed a great deal of promise as a youngster. He had all the gifts that any striker would dream of- ambidextrous, fast, and with the ability to finish. He was setting the local league on fire with his local club, Los Andes, and made a name for himself there. He quickly was picked up by Everest where he became the star and caught the eye of the Tricolor. Scoring at a blistering pace allowed him to earn a spot in the Ecuadorian side that participated in the 1959 South American tournament. His performance in his backyard caught the eye of Uruguayan side Peñarol, thus starting one of the great love affairs of South American football. He would earn a hat-trick in his first-ever match with the Carbonero against Argentine side Atlanta. He would follow that up with a brace against Tigre.
He played for Peñarol for almost a decade and scored 326 goals and would have one of the most illustious resumes in club history. He would pass the baton to a youngster on the bench that would continue the Peñarol successes and would eclipse Spencer to a certain level- Fernando Morena. He did play for Uruguay at Wembley Stadium in 1964 in a friendly between the Charrúas and England. and the home side won 2-1, with a goal by Spencer in the losing cause. If there was a year in which Spencer really stood out was in 1966. At this point, he was already being offered Uruguayan citizenship and would have had the chance to play with La Celeste in England that year; but declined the offer. He was also being considered for international duty by the English national team due to his ancestry. Still he would lead Peñarol to one of the most historic comebacks in Copa Libertadores history against Argentine side River Plate. The Argentine took a 2-0 lead in the third and final match of the series between the two sides, only to see Peñarol storm back and win the match 4-2 lead by a Spencer brace.
The aurinegros would also win the Intercontinental Cup after beating Real Madrid in both legs. Spencer would once again be the hero after he scored three of the four goals that the South Americans scored throughout both legs of that memorable final.
In 1970, Spencer left Peñarol to return to his native Ecuador and play his final two years with Barcelona. He would help them earn the title in the 1972 season as he would say goodbye to the game he loved so dearly. So 510 goals later, Spencer retired and decided to move back to Montevideo.
After retiring, he would work as a Ecuadorian diplomat in Uruguay. He was named the Consul of Ecuador in Uruguay in 1982 and was able to raising his family in Montevideo.
Spencer died in Cleveland Ohio on November 3rd, 2006 due to heart complications that had affected him for well over two decades. His body was taken to Guayaquil for a special wake that lasted a few hours. He was then transported on a military plane to Montevideo where he was given one final tribute by Uruguayan football fans, especially those of his beloved Peñarol and he would then be lied rest in his second country.
Seven Uruguayan titles (1960-62, 64-65, 67-68)
Three Copa Libertadores titles (1960-61, 66)
Two Intercontinental titles (1960, 66)
One Ecuadorian league title (1971)
Four-time leading scorer in Uruguayan league
Two-time leading scorer in Ecuadorian league
Ecuadorian Footballer of the Century
All-time leading scorer in Copa Libertadores history (54)
11 caps with Ecuadorian national team
5 caps with Uruguayan national team
Ranked 20th in All-Time South American Footballers of the 20th Century