The soccer war; this was the tie in Central America


HThere is a move that affected Francisco Uribe so much that to this day it haunts him as a painful memory. And the thing is that sometimes there are good footballers with bad fortune. Talk about it with Excelsior, as if he were back in the scorching field of Cuscatlán, in El Salvador, when that was not football but a war in the early 90s and a header would cut the thread that kept him excited about the World Cup.

How do you remember your time on the national team?

It was a moment when the forwards were Hugo Sánchez and I, it was an honor. We both started that game in El Salvador in 1993, and the attack was also in America. I felt in fullness since in the first phase, with César Luis Menotti, I had finished as the best scorer in the tie.

Until that fatal visit to El Salvador.

With all that it meant at the time. The insults since we arrived at the airport, we were stoned several times by the bus as part of the euphoria and mettle of the Central American teams.

The Mexican National Team in the old Training Center. Paco Uribe, the eighth in the row of seated players. This team was the one that started the playoffs in April 1993.

Also, the serenades at the foot of the hotel, did you sleep the night before the game?

Yes, but until five in the morning. We had dinner and I remember that my roommate was Miguel Herrera, when suddenly at midnight we were upset when we heard the music and the screams. They mounted huge horns to their full blast and brought drums. The hotel manager disappeared, we couldn’t move. We rested for a few hours because the game was at noon.

Another thing was the hymn.

Yes, we were already lined up on the court to listen to the anthem, although in any case it was not heard well because of the screams and suddenly we realized that it was not the melody, so we broke ranks. We knew things like this were going to happen, since we left the hotel they threw stones, screws, glasses, all kinds of things at us.

The play of the injury, how do you remember it?

I don’t think it was with bad intentions. It was a clash of heads because I jumped more than Rivera, the Salvadoran, and I won the shot, which by the way was taken by the goalkeeper, that was another thing that hurt me, that I could not score, so in the jump, he heads, but it hits me on the cheekbone and fractures me. I did not lose consciousness.

That hit stopped your career.

It hurt my paranasal sinus, zygomatic arch and the floor of the orbit. The truth is that it did not hurt, but when I sit up I begin to see double, then many images because my eye moved, until I stopped seeing completely. You had to go down some steps to the tunnel and then go up others to the dressing room. I remember that Dr. Alfonso Díaz asked me not to sleep so as not to fall into a coma and he injected me with something to keep me awake.

Francisco Uribe with Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pelé

More than soccer, that seemed like a part of war.

In that game they knocked out two teeth to Benjamín Galindo; they hurt Marcelino Bernal on the knee, Nacho Ambriz on the ankle; Hugo Sánchez had a lacerated back. Without the ball they were blows, elbows, knees and everything that was violence.

How long did recovery take?

Eight months, two of them in bed. I returned in January 1994 playing and scoring goals, I felt strong and I thought I could be called back to the national team, but unfortunately Miguel Mejía Barón did not call me up. He never spoke to me again and I didn’t have the decision to seek him out either. The first one who called to find out my state of health was Hugo Sánchez.

Was that head butt the most painful thing in your career?

No, it was not having gone to the World Cup, the crash marked me, but I was left with the feeling of pain because I was there and I was confident that I could help. The most painful thing was waiting for a call that never came to return to El Tri.

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