If a person who is relatively engaged in the world of football is asked for their opinion about the best player in the world, chances are that the name Jorge Gonzalez would not figure high on the list. In fact, many would not even be aware of the dazzling forward, who was nicknamed as the El Magico. Diego Maradona once described Magico Gonzalez as a player whom he would like to emulate or replicate in training with little success. Many other top players were in awe of his skills. Yet, Magico Gonzalez never really ventured outside the lower leagues of the game and he is best known for his time with Spanish outfit Cadiz.
Born as Jorge Alberto Gonzalez Barillas in El Salvador, Magico Gonzalez was able to dazzle many with his amazing skills on the ball, creativity, tricks, and speed. Unfortunately, football is a team sport and the forward never got to show his extraordinary skills at a big club. Maradona was given the opportunity to play for top clubs like Napoli during his career, while Pele featured for one of the biggest clubs in Brazil – Santos.
Magico Gonzalez, meanwhile, represented the likes of ANTEL and Independiente F.C in the early part of his career. In 1977, he made the switch to FAS where he spent five seasons. His first spell at Cadiz happened as a result of his extraordinary performances with the El Salvador national team at the 1982 World Cup. El Salvador may have failed to pick up any win in only their World Cup representation till date, but the performances of Gonzalez caught the eye of many top European clubs.
Even though Magico Gonzalez never played for a top club in his career, it was certainly not down to a lack of interest. In fact, Paris St Germain were heavily interested in a move for the forward just after the World Cup 1982. Similarly, Barcelona were also keen on the player once it became apparent that he was turning down a move to the French capital due to concerns about climate. However, it soon became apparent that Magico Gonzalez was a player who put fun ahead of ambition. The centre forward was more about enjoying his game rather than being pushed to the limits and creating new records.
Lack of ambition and mediocre professionalism
Magico Gonzalez would go on to score against Barcelona while playing for Cadiz. However, it is unlikely that Barcelona would be regretting the inability to bring in a hot property back in those days. The professionalism shown by Magico Gonzalez was also not up to the standard expected from a top player. This was quite apparent from the numerous occasions when he missed flights and tours. Such a situation never really improved throughout his career and even Cadiz had to run out of patience in 1985 when they decided to send him out to Real Valladolid. During his solitary season with a Real Valladolid, the Salvadoran only made nine appearances.
For a player who has not suffered major injuries and the talent at the disposal, it would have been such a fascinating thought to see him in an ambitious mode and take on pleasures like Pele and Maradona for the crown of being the best player in the world.
Second spell with Cadiz
Even as the club were extremely keen to get out of the player, the pressure of fans made him return to Cadiz in 1986. It is during his second spell with Cadiz that Magico Gonzalez created many memories that were caught on camera much to the delight of football fans even now. Some of the skills displayed by the Salvadoran were so impressive that Cadiz seemed untouchable when he was on song.
The second spell lasted for five seasons. Despite making more than 110 appearances during this period, Magico Gonzalez scored just over 20 goals. Even then, he continued to grab the attention of clubs from across the globe. It was during his second spell at Cadiz that Italian outfit Atlanta made an effort to sign him. However, even this was in vain, as Magico Gonzalez had grown so attached to Cadiz that he simply did not want to leave the Spanish outfit anymore.
Towards the end of his playing days, Magico Gonzalez made the return to FAS where he spent eight seasons before finally hanging up his boots in 1999. His second spell at FAS saw him pick up a couple of domestic league titles.
Legacy in the game
For a player who is regarded in the same breath as Maradona or Pele, the legacy left by Magico Gonzalez is questionable on several fronts. He has picked up all of its major trophies with FAS. Even his trophy cabinet is not the biggest around, as there have been five Salvadoran Primera division titles dominating the shelves. His biggest achievement outside the domestic game was the CONCACAF Champions League success in 1979.
Yet, anyone who has seen the skills possessed by Magico Gonzalez would be only wondering what could have been of the great Salvadoran if he had just been more careful with his talent. It is highly unlikely that future generations will continue to be remembered of the great Salvadoran – especially when newer stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi set new benchmarks in the world of football.
His story continues to reverberate around Cadiz and FAS. The former struggles in the second division of Spanish football, but it does not take long to get the fans reminded of the glory days when the club had one of the greatest players in the world. It is through players like Magico Gonzalez that football remains a sport which is more than about trophies and money. He remains a true icon whose talent should never be missed.