IVAN ZAMORANO

IVAN ZAMORANO

Born on the 18th of January 1967 in Chile’s capital Santiago, Ivan Zamorano had a tough childhood. After several years of struggling to get by in the chaos of the capital the Zamorano family headed north, eventually settling in the Atacama region. A sparsely populated but resource rich area of the country. The family quickly settled into life in their new surroundings, Ivan’s father, like many in the Atacama, would rise early and head to the mines. From a young age it became clear that Ivan would have to chip in financially, taking any odd jobs that could help put food on the table. 

It was also clear from a young age that Ivan had a talent for football that far surpassed that of the other boys in the neighbourhood. At just eight years old he was scouted by local coach, Ivan Sanchez, who began to recommend the precocious youngster to clubs around the area. Eventually Ivan would settle at Cobresal, a club in the mining town of El Salvador

 

Cobresal and Cobreandino 

Having come through the youth ranks at Cobresal, an 18 year old Ivan Zamorano made his debut in senior football when he appeared as a substitute for his boyhood club in a December 1985 league match against Union La Calera. 

To aid the young man’s development a decision was made to loan Zamorano to Chilean second division side Cobreandino. The loan would ultimately prove a masterstroke as Zamorano would score 27 goals in just 29 league matches and would return to Cobresal as a more physically developed striker brimming with confidence. 

 

He would also be returning to a Cobresal side that had recorded the greatest season in the fledgling club's history. Having started life as an amateur club less than a decade prior, the 1986 season would see Cobresal qualify for its first ever international tournament, the Copa Libertadores, as well as mount a strong title challenge. The 1987 season would see Zamorano lead the line alongside Sergio Salgado and Ruben Martinez as Cobresal swept away all comers to triumph in the Copa Chile, securing the clubs first ever major honour. Zamorano would finish the season as top scorer, ultimately scoring 22 goals in 43 games.

 

St. Gallen

Zamorano’s domestic exploits quickly began to attract international attention and it would be Italian side Bologna who would ultimately bring the exciting Chilean to Europe. He would, however, never play for the side from the north of Italy. Zamorano had been brought to Italy along with compatriot and friend, Hugo Rubio, after both had impressed in trials. Ultimately Bologna elected to back the more experienced and esteemed Rubio, sending Zamorano out on loan to Swiss side, St.Gallen, where he would ultimately shine. In fact, he impressed so much that the Swiss side would elect to buy Zamorano from Bologna, who put up little resistance to the roughly 250,000 Euro sale. 

Ironically following an injury hit debut season Hugo Rubio himself would be sent out on loan to St. Gallen, joining up with Zamorano. They formed a prolific partnership before Zamorano would again be on the move. He would end his time in Switzerland with 37 goals over two seasons.

 

Sevilla

Zamorano was brought to Andalucia at the express wishes of manager Vicente Cantatore, a naturalized Chilean citizen and long distance admirer of Zamorano’s. Cantatore had, the season before, led Sevilla to an 6th placed finish and qualification for the 1990-91 UEFA Cup. Zamorano initially was brought in with the intention of forming a strike partnership between him and Austrian legend Toni Polster, who had himself scored a club record 33 goals the season before. In the end it would be Davor Suker that Zamorano would link up with frequently in the Sevilla attack as the pair developed a remarkable understanding on the pitch.  Zamorano would once again impress during his spell in the south of Spain as he scored 21 goals in 59 games, despite Sevilla ultimately registering disappointing seasons in the two years he represented the club. 

 

Real Madrid

At 25 Zamorano made the move of his career when he was sold to Real Madrid for 3.5 million euros. What would follow would be the most prolific and successful spell of his career.

Despite a difficult first year of adjusting for Zamorano he featured sparingly in a side that won both the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de España. His second season would see him reach new heights as he, scored 27 goals on his way to finishing top scorer and receiving the Pichichi trophy,

Despite his success the 1994/95 season was one that almost didn't get started for Zamorano. Unenthused by what he had seen during the Chileans first season in Madrid, Real manager Jorge Valdano publicly commented that Zamorano would not be part of his plans. This was due in part to the five foreigners rule and his belief that Slovak international Peter Dubovsky would be his designated foreign striker. Zamorano promptly responded with a barnstorming pre-season, which, together with injuries to other strikers all but assured Zamorano’s place in the side for the coming season.

 

His finest individual performance of the season undoubtedly came in a match against Barcelona, when he scored three and assisted two on the way to a five goal demolition of Real’s great rivals. His performances during the season would ultimately help propel Real to their first title in five years. 

By the time 1996 rolled around Zamorano’s starting place was once again in doubt, this time due to the emergence of a young Raul, and he elected to leave the club after scoring a very respectable 101 goals in 173 games.

 

Inter Milan

His destination would be the blue side of Milan and the Nerazzurri as he elected to join Inter Milan on a free transfer. Unfortunately for Zamorano, despite being one of the most gifted strikers in world football, he struggled to hold down a definitive starting place in the side, as quite possibly the greatest ensemble of attacking talent that any club has showcased in such a short amount of time came and went. Ronaldo, Baggio, Recoba, Vieri, Kanu, Mutu and Sükür all featured alongside Zamorano in the span of just over four years that he was at the club.

 

It would also be at Inter that Zamorano would famously wear the 1+8 on his back, this followed the arrival of Baggio who had demanded the #10, at that time-worn by Ronaldo, who had in turn demanded the #9 that had been Zamorano’s. 

The finest moment of Zamorano’s Inter career would come in 1998, as he scored the first goal in the 97/98 UEFA Cup final, on the way to a 3-0 victory for Inter.

 

Club America

Zamorano would ultimately stick with Inter until the 2001 season, when the 34 year old Zamorano would call quits on his European career and head to Mexican giants Club America. His first season would see Club America crowned spring champions, and he ultimately enjoyed two good years at the club, ending his time there with 33 goals. 

 

Colo-Colo

Zamorano’s final move would be an emotional one as the now 36-year-old left Mexico to join up with Chilean giants Colo-Colo, the club he had supported as a child. Zamorano joined the club at a time of  deep economic crisis, and therefore made the decision to forgo any payment for what would turn out to be 14 appearances before he ultimately hung up his boots in 2003. 

 

International Career

After debuting for Chile on the 19th June 1987, Zamorano went on to play 69 times, scoring 34 goals. He formed a prolific partnership with Marcelo Sala and the duo appeared at  the 1998 World Cup in France as well as the 2000 Olympics, the latter of which he received a bronze medal in. He also appeared in four Copa America tournaments between 1987 and 1999.

 

Words by Andy Gallagher

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