UNTOLD STORIES: MAGICO GONZALEZ

UNTOLD STORIES: MAGICO GONZALEZ

“These fans are great but what they don't know is that there is a player even better than Pele and I. He is Jorge Gonzalez, el Magico, and he still plays in Cadiz – he's phenomenal.” - Diego Maradona

Few players have ever suited a playing environment more than Magico Gonzalez suited Cadiz. A city where he is still beloved.

Born In March 1958, Jorge Gonzalez grew up in a poor neighbourhood of El Salvador’s capital San Salvador along with seven brothers and sisters. The young Magico came to prominence after impressing at the 1982 World Cup. He had offers from Atleti and purportedly PSG but in the end decided to settle in Cadiz.

Perhaps it reminded him of home, Cadiz after all, doubled as Havana in the Bond film Die Another Day. The city has been the capital of Spanish naval enterprise from the 18th century on and as such it is is full of grand old buildings in pastel tones with palm trees lining narrow streets all surrounded by the city and sea walls. All of it slowly crumbling due to the erosion of the rugged coastal winters. It’s a beautiful place. 

But it’s not just the architecture that could have helped young Magico settle, there’s a laid back approach to life in Cadiz and a sense of humour that runs through the place. It also happens to have a thriving nightlife.

‘I like the night and the desire I have to enjoy it, well, even my mother couldn’t take that away from me. I know I’m irresponsible, I know I’m a bad professional and it might be that I’m not taking advantage of the best opportunity of my life but there’s something wrong in my head, I don’t like taking football like a job. If I did that I wouldn’t be me, I play to enjoy myself’ - Magico

In Cadiz Magico was free, sure he was lazy, apathetic and borderline narcoleptic but it didn’t matter, on the pitch he always lived up to his name.

During his time at the club Cadiz got promoted, relegated and promoted again where they stayed in the top flight for eight years, which for Cadiz is a hell of an achievement. 

Responsibility for Magico often fell at the feet of his long suffering manager David Vidal, the Tom to Magico’s Jerry, the man who complained of Magico that ‘the guy could sleep for 15 hours a day’. For years after arriving in Spain Magico blamed his sleeping pattern on the time difference between Cadiz and El Salvador, which is just brilliant.

There’s a story that Vidal once had a tip off that Magico was at a disco in Cadiz. The managers plan to try and get him out was thwarted by a DJ who hid Magico under the decks, where he promptly fell asleep. The party wound down and the place locked up leaving Magico to wake up on his own and locked in a disco for the foreseeable future.

But for all that their relationship was strained at times Magico was still Vidal’s star man. He would not turn up for training all week and get dropped from the weekends squad only to turn up on Saturday to be let back in to the team. This cycle was not an unusual one. According to Vidal, Magico’s personal record for failing to turn up to organised training was an impressive 18 days in a row.

It’s undeniable that Magico’s career was one of wasted talent and the player is largely forgotten outside of Spain and Central America. He never made his big move and squandered his opportunity to play for Barca, with whom he went on a pre-season tour, after an incident in a New York hotel with a waitress and a fire alarm.

In the end his loyalty to Cadiz has made him a legend in the city. The walls of bars and houses are still adorned with his image. Cadiz and Magico were truly a match made in heaven.

 

Words by Andy Gallagher

 

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