Hugo Sánchez is a legendary Mexican footballer who played as a forward. Sánchez played for big teams in Europe and North America. He is considered one of the best Mexican footballers of all time. According to IFFHS (International Federation of Football History and Statistics), he is the best player from Central and North America ever to grace the beautiful game. He scored 429 goals in 742 appearances making him one of the most lethal strikers in football history. He has also been manager for several teams including UCAM, NEXACA, Pachuca, and the Mexico National Team.
Atlético Madrid (1981–1985)
Real Madrid (1985–1992)
Rayo Vallecano (1993–1994)
Dallas Burn (1996)
Club football: 684 matches, 400 goals
National team: 58 matches, 29 goals
He was born in Mexico City, Mexico on 7 November 1958. He is the son of former Asturias FC and Atlante player Hector Sánchez. At a young age, Hugo pursued professional gymnastics briefly. He later joined Pumas de la UNAM where he studied and graduated with a degree in dentistry.
During his teenage years, he played with the Mexico's Amateur Team. When he got a chance to impress with the national team, he seized the opportunity. He went on to represent the national team at the Pan American Games in 1975. The following year, he starred in the 1976 summer Olympics. He scored his first international goal against France in the same event. His goal scoring exploits continued to attract admirers. He joined Pumas de la UNAM in 1976 and played for the university-based club in the Primera Division impressing further in his debut season.
Hugo quickly established himself as a lethal goal-scoring machine at a tender age. In his second full Primera Division debut, he topped the scoring charts with 26 goals. His good form coincided with a golden age for UNAM. They went on to win the title in his debut season, and later won the Copa Interamericana and the CONCACAF championship trophies. He played on loan in the summer of 1979-1980 for San Diego Sockers, where he continued to bang goals with regularity.
His impressive goal scoring exploits in North America attracted European football giants. He joined Spanish team Atletico de Madrid in 1981. He rediscovered his scoring touch the second season. That was after spending an average year acclimatizing to the European style of football. He played a pivotal role for Atletico from 1981-1985, winning Copa Del Rey and Super Copa De Espana trophies in 1985. During his stint at Atletico, he played 155 games scoring 82 goals in the process.
He joined Atletico Madrid's derby rivals Real Madrid in the summer of 1985. At Real, he topped goal-scoring charts for both La Liga and in Spain for four consecutive seasons between 1985 and 1990. He helped Real Madrid win the UEFA Cup in his debut year. He went on to inspire Madrid's golden generation that won five consecutive La Liga crowns, 3 Super Copa de Espana and a Copa Del Rey. He scored 208 goals in 283 appearances for Real Madrid.
He left Real Madrid in 1993 to join Club America where he played 35 games. He scored 18 goals winning the CONCACAF championship with the club. He joined Rayo Vallecano for a single season and scored 17 goals in 35 games. He played for other clubs, notably Atlante, Linz, Dallas Burn and Celaya, at the twilight of his playing career.
Mexico National Team
After representing Mexico Amateur Team, Sánchez was ready for the big stage albeit at just 15. He never looked back after his first disappointing outing with the Mexico National Team. Hugo played 58 national team games scoring 29 goals. He represented Mexico in three FIFA World Cup Finals. He won the Pan American Games Tournament in 1975 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1977 with the Mexico National Team.
Style and legacy
His short stint with gymnastics was evident throughout his footballing career. His composure, balance, and elegance were a joy to watch. He had an eye for spectacular volleys and wondrous strikes mostly from outside the box. He always wheeled away somersaulting every time he scored. To add to his spectacular volleys, he popularized the bicycle and the scorpion kicks. He was the typical flamboyant footballer.
Although most tacticians treat flamboyance with indifference nowadays, players do not shy away from displaying their talents occasionally. For Hugo Sánchez, any day was a day to impress.
Awards and records
He won the Pichichi (La Liga Top Scorer) trophy four times in a row from 1985-1988. He was unable to defend the trophy in 1989 against red-hot Brazilian and Atletico Madrid forward Baltazar. Yet, he used the loss as a Launchpad to set a ridiculous record in the history of modern football. First, his record-equaling tally of 38 goals in a single La Liga season lasted over 20 years. Amazingly, He scored all the 38 strikes with one-touch shots.
It is almost impossible to break the record if you consider current football dynamics. Sánchez scored 234 La Liga goals, 56 penalties. He received the Golden Foot Legend award in 2010. He remains one of the most prolific strikers of all times in the Spanish Football.
By Rosa Nelson
FIFA – World Cup Official Film 1986