The Mexican legend Antonio Carbajal, who became the first player to feature in five World Cups for the country, has died aged 93.
The 48 times capped goalkeeper played in consecutive tournaments between 1950 and 1966, creating a record which stood for 32 years until German Lothar Matthaus joined him on the total of five in 1998, with four more achieving the distinction since then.
He spent the majority of his career which spanned 18 years at Club León in the country of his birth, where he made 364 appearances, winning titles in 1952 and 1956, before moving on to manage them to success through the 1970’s.
He earned himself the nicknames at the club of La Tota and El Ciinco Copas, which mean “the whole” and “Five Cups” respectively, based on his longevity.
Passed away at home
The much loved star had spent some time in hospital in León recently, after struggling with blood pressure issues. He was allowed home which is where he died peacefully yesterday (9 May).
Fans encouraged to pay respects
The club are opening up their stadium for fans to come and pay their respects and issued a statement which read: “Don Antonio, legends never die; we will always follow your hand. It is an honour to be your team. With honour, respect and love, let us say our last goodbye to the emerald legend.”
From Brazil to England
Carbajal appeared at the World Cups held in Brazil in 1950, Switzerland in 1954, Sweden in 1958, Chile in 1962 and finally in England in 1966. Indeed 11 of his 48 caps were won during those tournaments. Although he never left Mexico in his club career, the legendary keeper suggested that in the early 1950’s the mighty Real Madrid were keen on his signature.
Condolences from Fifa boss
Fifa president Gianni Infantino was quick to offer up his best wishes, saying: “It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Antonio Carbajal, the first player to star in five World Cups; I send our most sincere condolences to his family and to all the Mexican fans who mourn his loss.”
Ex player tweets tribute
Former Mexico star Rafael Marquez was one of the first of many players to speak up on the great man’s behalf, writing on his Twitter account: “I mourn the passing of one of the greatest legends of our Mexican soccer.”
In good company
Marquez was one of the four other players to equal Carbajal’s record of appearing at five different World Cups, the others being: compatriot Andres Guardado, along with two of the all time greats in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
In total Carbajal made 409 club appearances, split between 364 games for León, and a further 45 for Club España. After finishing his playing days he stayed in the game for a further 26 years up to 1995, coaching for a massive 722 matches, which included a ten-year spell at Atlético de Morelia.