Jorge “El Mágico” González is not as known as he should be in Soccerland. He, like many other awesome Latin American players, was a misunderstood figure in the sport. There’s no way to describe the way he played; it may be enough to simply say Diego Maradona admired his amazing skill set.
This story, a story like no other, is about the best Salvadorian player. It was almost impossible to take the ball away from his feet – he knew how to dribble like a god, yet he rejected the opportunity to climb the Soccer Olympus. Looking at his career one can tell the reason of his success is that he did not think about soccer as a job. Instead he enjoyed it as if he were a little kid: this was his biggest virtue and the worst of his flaws.
In 1975, when he was just 17 years old, he started to play in the Salvadoran Professional League. For five years he brought light to El Salvador, but possibly never more so than when he sent his country to the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The goal that took El Salvador to the World Cup was incredible: El Mágico began his dribble in the center of the field, then left players behind him with an incredible sprint. He shot the ball so fiercely that the Mexico goalkeeper could only push it straight to Ever Hernández’s feet.
El Salvador proved to be a disaster in Spain, losing every World Cup match (including the infamous 10-1 loss to Hungary). But after the tournament, quite a few European football teams wanted to sign El Mágico. Once Jorge was desired by European clubs his personality started to play against him: he blew up a signing with PSG when he didn’t show up to the closing meeting. He wound up in Spain’s second division. But El Mágico was born to play in Cádiz; he loved the kind of life he had there, a totally free bohemian lifestyle.
It was said that, “Jorge and Cádiz were a love story. The loved each other and the magic was always in the air when they were together.”
In Spain, Jorge was a star on the field but shone even more in the night – he was a god of the Cádiz nightlife. His talent did not make up for his lack of discipline, yet for a time he remained one of the best players in the world. The town loved him, cheering him every weekend when he used to kill it in the field.
Jorge helped lift Cádiz CF to the first division of Spanish soccer, but even with El Mágico on the team, Cádiz were immediately relegated once more. That’s when Diego Maradona’s FC Barcelona began to flirt with the Salvadoran. El Mágico threw away this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sign with Barça when, while in the US on a preseason tour with the club, he stayed his room with an American girl while fire alarms rang. His trademark cynicism made an appearance when he was asked about the incident. He simply said, “I never leave things half done”
He then returned to Cádiz, but was not welcomed home, and was soon loaned out to Valladolid. The club tried to limit the way El Mágico lived, but then he started to lose magic on the field. After six months he was back in Cádiz, happy off and on the field, shining once more and making Soccerland a happy place once again.
After returning to Cádiz, the team had to hire one person whose sole purpose was to wake Jorge up every single morning. He continued to party hard, so hard that in one game against Atlético de Madrid he fell asleep on a defender’s shoulder during a corner kick.
During a preseason tournament match against Barcelona, Jorge’s partying caused him to miss the first half of the game. Barcelona was winning 3-0 at the break, but Jorge came on for the second half, scoring two goals and setting up another two. which Cádiz won the match and made it to the tournament’s final.. Fun fact: El Mágico was drunk in that game.
But not every story about Jorge brings a smile. In 1989, a young woman sued the player for attempted rape. González was acquitted, but soon after he left Cádiz for good. In 1991 he returned to El Salvador, spending nine years at Club Deportivo FAS. He retired in 1999 after playing his last game with the El Salvador national team.
Jorge González had the opportunity to be one of the best players in the history of this beautiful sport. One might instead believe he’s a loser, because he’s now only remembered by a few people in the planet. But the truth is he was always happy, always partying, always having fun. He could have been a Soccer God but instead he played for the people, staying true to himself even after hanging up his boots.
Although he never quite hung them up. El Mágico González now plays soccer with Escuela Alemana’s veteran team in San Salvador, and also operates an academy in his hometown. The player who once so inspired the kids of El Salvador is now providing more, training future players and encouraging them to continue studying even while they pursue their dreams. All this from a man who used to say, “I have this silly idea on my mind – I do not like to see soccer as a job. That is not me. I just play to have fun.”