Mourning in South American and world football: the legend Leonel Sánchez died

Photo: Stu Forster/Allsport/Getty Images

Leonel Sánchez, a key figure in Chilean football, historical player of “La Roja” and star of the Club Universidad de Chile, passed away this Saturday at the age of 85.

“The Sánchez Encina family reported the sensitive death of Leonel Sánchez. The guild expresses its most heartfelt condolences to all relatives. Our tribute to one of the greatest in the history of La Roja”, indicated the Union of Professional Soccer Players of Chile (Sifup) through Twitter.

The death was announced just a month after Sánchez was hospitalized due to an acute pulmonary thrombosis, a news that made football fans hold their breath.

Legend in the World Cups

The former soccer player was one of the most outstanding players in the history of South American soccer of the last century. His participation was decisive in the 1962 World Cup, when Chile got the third place.

He disputed two Soccer World Cups (1962 and 1966), in which he scored 4 goals – all of them in the edition played in Chile – and in four Copa América, including 1956, in which Chile lost the final against Uruguay.

His most remembered goal is the one scored by the legend of the Soviet goal, Lev Yashin, when everyone expected a cross hanging into the area.

What’s more, between 1965 and 1981 he was the historic scorer for La Roja. Along with Elías Figueroa, he was the only Chilean to play 9 matches of a world championship.

In national football Leonel Sánchez led the attack of the U of Chile for ten seasons in which he won six leagues before receiving offers from the greats of Europe, in particular from Real Madrid, Benfica, Juventus and Milan who finally made him a serious offer after his magical World Cup in Chile.

However, the deal did not go through and finally he did not integrate a squad in which stars like Gianni Rivera stood out.

At the end of his career, Sánchez left the “U” due to discrepancies with the board and signed for Colo-Colo, with which he won another league before moving on to Palestino and Ferroviarios. With the latter, he hung up his boots in 1973.

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