Football followers in El Salvador are justifiably proud of their country's standing in the game, including being the first Central American nation to qualify for a FIFA World Cup™ finals, at Mexico 1970, and their clubs' frequently impressive displays on the North, Central American and Caribbean stage.
El Salvador's most successful outfit are FAS, who have consistently collected silverware since their formation in the late 1940s. In addition, the team from Santa Ana, El Salvador's second-largest city, also own the heart of the most celebrated Salvadoran footballer of all time, Jorge El Mágico Gonzalez, whose fondness for FAS is such he played there until the age of 41.
Birth of an institution
On 16 February 1947, a group of football enthusiasts in Santa Ana got together with the intention of starting up a new team. Initially named the Futbolistas Aliados Santanecos, changed shortly afterwards to Futbolistas Asociados Santanecos, it was under the abbreviation FAS that the club would achieve domestic and regional fame.
The fledgling outfit subsequently played their first match against then national champions Libertad, losing the friendly encounter 4-1, and were accepted into the Salvadoran championship later that same year. In keeping with such swift early progress, FAS had won their first national title by 1951/52.
Making of a legend
This success kick-started a glorious era for the team nicknamed Los Tigrillos (The Little Tigers), who followed up their 1951/52 triumph by repeating the feat in 1953/54 and 1957/58. Featuring strongly throughout this golden 50s period were Lindoro Escamilla, Mario Velazquez, Rafael Guzman and Argentinians Hector Marinaro, Omar Muraco and Javier Novello, all of whom have since gone down as club legends.
It was around this period that the team were also dubbed "El Tanquecito de bolsillo" (the pocket-sized tank), a nickname that has stuck to this day. In this vein, FAS stormed into the 60s by picking up the 1961/62 and the 1962 titles, only for these successes to usher in a 16-year championship drought.
This sequence was finally broken in 1977/78 when, inspired by up-and-coming fan favourite Jorge Gonzalez, the men in red were crowned Salvadoran champions once more. And with El Mágico leading from the front, the Santa Ana outfit repeated the feat the following season as well as winning the CONCACAF Champions Cup for the very first time.
Gonzalez helped the club to another league title in 1981 before departing for an eventful stay in Spanish football, and FAS won just one league crown during his near-decade long absence. The return of the fans' hero in 1991 breathed new life back into the club, however, and the now veteran forward was heavily involved in the back-to-back league conquests of 1994/95 and 1995/96.
If the 80s and 90s were mixed periods for FAS, the club were near unstoppable after the dawn of the new millennium. The year 2002 has since become known as 'The Year of the Tiger' in El Salvador, a reference to FAS' victory in both the Clausura and Apertura competitions. Indeed, they woud go on to repeat their Apertura triumph the following year after defeating arch-rivals Aguila in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Wins in the 2004 Apertura and 2005 Clausura followed, taking FAS' tally to a national record of 16, though since that last success the league trophy has eluded Los Rojos' grasp.
The Estadio Oscar Quiteno in Santa Ana can hold 15,000 spectators and was officially unveiled prior to a match between FAS and Mexican side Oro on 3 February 1963. The arena was named in honour of FAS' former first-team goalkeeper, who passed away on the pitch that very same year after making a save against Orion of Costa Rica.