World Cup Legends: Mexico & Toto Carbajal

by Back Page Football

antonio carbajalBorn in Mexico City in 1929, Carbajal joined his local amateur team – Club Oviedo in 1942 before being bought for the 11 footballs in 1948 by Real España Club after having been part of the Mexican squad that took part in 1948 London Olympics aged only 19 years old. This move apparently marked the end of his studies to the disapproval of his father.

Real España Club had been a powerhouse when football in Mexico had been amateur but following the game becoming professional in 1943 the club would become a gradually fading force claiming three domestic cups and one league title. The club folded at the end of the 1950 season after finishing a respectable fourth with and Carbajal’s performances earning selection for his first World Cup; Brazil in 1950 at just 21 where he would be the youngest keeper at the tournament. His debut would not be easy. Brazil in The Maracanã and a 4-0 loss followed by a 4-1 loss to Yugoslavia and a 2-1 loss to Switzerland. After the tournament ‘Tota’ would move to Club Léon. He would stay there for the rest of his career.

Domestically, Los Emeraldas would claim the League title in 1952 and be Copá Mexico finalists the following season. Carbajal was selected for the 1954 World Cup squad playing in the 3-2 loss to France [in a strange format each team in a group of four would play only two matches – seeded vs unseeded] which saw El Tri bow out of the tournament.

The following years brought success at for Léon – a second Primera Divisíon title, as well as Campéon de Campeones and Copá Mexico trophies. Consistent performances earned ‘Tota’ a trip to the World Cup in Sweden in 1958 this time as captain. Another tough draw saw them pitted against hosts Sweden, a still strong Hungary and Wales against whom Mexico earned their first World Cup point. The next few seasons would see no domestic success for Léon, but again Carbajal would be called upon for the 1962 World Cup and become the first player to go to four World Cups. Another tough group containing the two finalists Brazil and Czechoslovakia and a strong Spanish also saw Mexico’s best performances. Narrow losses were followed by the first El Tri victory – a 3-1 win over the Czechs.

1966 became a swansong. Practically in semi-retirement ‘Tota’ claimed a league title with Léon and a surprise call up for his fifth World Cup in 1966. A squad member by then, Carbajal played Mexico’s final group match a 0-0 draw against Uruguay – his first World Cup clean sheet. That year saw his retirement after over 360 matches for his club and five world cups earning him his nickname ‘El Cinco Copas’.

Not the tallest or most imposing of keepers [and oddly was reported never to have worn gloves] but a clever one with great positional sense. At international level, he was arguably Mexico’s most consistent performer for so long behind an often poor defense. Perhaps recognised when voted CONCACAF keeper of the century.

Greatest Squad – Starting XI (3-4-1-2)

ANTONIO CARBAJAL

CLAUDIO SUÁREZ                 JESÚS DEL MURO               RAFAEL MÁRQUEZ

PÁVEL PARDO               GERARDO TORRADO              BENJAMÍN GALINDO          ALBERTO GARCÍA ASPE

CUAUHTÉMOC BLANCO

HUGO SÁNCHEZ                   LUIS HERNÁNDEZ

Greatest Squad – Reserves

GK: JORGE CAMPOS
GK: OSWALDO SÁNCHEZ
LB: GUSTAVO PENA
CB: IGNACIO AMBRÍZ
CB: GUILLERMO SEPÚLVEDA
CM: JAVIER AGUIRRE
CM: TOMÁS BOY ESPINOZA
LM: MANUEL NEGRETE ARIAS
AM: RAMÓN RAMÍREZ
RW: LUIS GARCÍA
ST: JARED BORGETTI
ST: ENRIQUE BORJA

Created by Alan Robins |  Image created by Jorge Manuel Martins

Tune in throughout the World Cup as the series unfolds

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