News of the death of former Penarol and Uruguay player Juan Carlos Gonzalez has been greeted with sadness by football fans around the world.
The 85-year-old Gonzalez was one of the last three surviving members of the Charrúa squad that won the country’s second world title at the 1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ by defeating the host nation 2-1. One of the biggest shocks in the game’s history, that immortal match is commonly referred to as the Maracanazo.
“We are saddened to hear the news of the death of the former Uruguayan footballer Juan Carlos Gonzalez,” wrote FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter in a letter to the President of the Uruguayan Football Association, Sebastian Bauza, and CONMEBOL President, Nicolas Leoz.
“On behalf of FIFA and the global football family, I would like to express my most sincere condolences to all my colleagues at the Uruguayan Football Association and, most importantly of all, to his family, friends and loved ones,” he added.
Gonzalez, who lived in Buenos Aires, was born in Colonia on 22 August 1924 and played for the brilliant Penarol side of the 1940s. After making a valuable contribution to his club’s 1949 championship success, Uruguay coach Juan Lopez gave the right-back a place in the squad for Brazil 1950.
Featuring in La Celeste’s emphatic 8-0 defeat of Bolivia in their opening match of the tournament, Gonzalez also played in the 2-2 draw with Spain. He then missed the rest of the competition through illness, but stayed on in Brazil to give his support to the side that silenced the Maracana on that famous July day 60 years ago.
The ex-defender received numerous tributes in the years that followed and was named a Distinguished Citizen of the city of Montevideo in 2007. Gonzalez was also a special guest at the opening ceremony of Germany 2006 along with Anibal Paz and Alcides Gigghia, his fellow squad members on that historic day.
He died on 15 February in Buenos Aires and will be buried at the Olympic Pantheon in Montevideo, taking with him a priceless piece of footballing history.