Juan Carlos Unzu, kick-off to make ALS visible

Juan Carlos Unzuewho turns 55 on the 22nd, played in two stages in Osasuna 13 years apart in between. Four seasons in total in the first team after previously passing through the lower categories of the club and leaving in between to other destinations –Barcelona, ​​Seville, Tenerife and Oviedo–. The round trip as a rojillo playing his last professional game in El Sadar, the field where it all began, the great performance in the two periods in Osasuna, his undoubted attachment to the club of his land, the obvious Osasunism, they always made the goalkeeper from Orkoien a close type, always multiplied the appreciation for his human profile. Juan Carlos Unzué suffers THE A and his attitude towards the disease, the fight for the dignity of the sick as an inalienable objective, also make up the figure of the former player and coach who deserves all the honors.

The footballer and the person, the fighter, receives on Sunday the tribute of Osasunism and of all those who want to join and feel exemplified in the kick-off of the match against Alavés.

Unzué debuted in the First Division with Osasuna at the age of 19, in La Condomina, on February 8, 1987, due to Roberto Santamaria’s injury, and saved a penalty. Three days later, in the penalty shootout against Barcelona, ​​the young goalkeeper also shot correctly and repelled another one that ultimately qualified the team for the quarterfinals. The indelible memory of him.

“The honorary kick-off is a recognition from the fans and it will be a memory that is difficult to forget. I will have the opportunity to once again receive the affection of all the people in my land, the Osasuna fans, the many years ago I made my debut at El Sadar on a very special day with a full field against Barcelona in the Cup, and others who were perhaps also there the day I retired. unforgettable day”.

Unzué says that the statistics and numbers of his career catch him by surprise. “I have not been much to look at the past and to count little. Sometimes I am surprised by the numbers, but 17 years go a long way.” But he does notice the hunch when he unites in time his experience as a player from Osasuna. “It is very nice to start in a team and finish the race in the same one, and that was my intention since I left Pamplona”, he reveals. “The day of the debut is a very marked day and it is in my memory. The day of the debut in front of my people, being able to stop that penalty against Barcelona and qualify. I have the memory of El Sadar full to bursting, with the people very excited from the first moment because the team had been able to win at the Camp Nou 0-1. I would keep that memory if I had to keep only one. I would keep that one because everything was very fast, I didn’t even have time dream of something and it appeared. Oysters! It appeared and with the prospect it gives a lot of joy”.

Unzué said goodbye to professional football in a match with Alavés on June 15, 2003. “The idea of ​​ending my career at Osasuna had been a wish since the day I left. Because I left Osasuna without being the starting goalkeeper of the team and that was something that I had stuck in there, I noticed that I needed to feel that with my people. That possibility that they would see me play continuously, as I did with Sevilla”, he recalls his spirit in the times of footballer in other destinations . “At all times it was in my head that if there was even the slightest chance of coming to Osasuna, I was going to do everything possible to return. And that’s how it was. In those days Ángel Martín González was the technical secretary and Lotina was the coach. I came from I haven’t played for Oviedo for two years and they both believed I could bring my experience to the team, and the first of the two seasons I was then, the first with Miguel Ángel Lotina, was one of my best seasons in terms of performance. my career”.

“I have always given value to wanting to be in places, and I wanted to live that – the return to Osasuna – so much that with that desire I helped it happen,” he continues. “It was a season fighting not to be relegated, with moments of ups and downs, but in terms of individual performance, I remember it as one of the best. But the following year I had doubts”, he recalls how the decision was made about his withdrawal. “Also, it was clear in my head that I was going to leave as soon as I couldn’t provide the field or the dressing room with what I thought I should. And if it happens to you, at home too, I had no doubts. As soon as it was generated in My head that, these doubts, I said: until here. To be able to say goodbye in that match with Alavés in front of your people and receive the affection the day of your retirement was for me to close a perfect circle”.

Unzué waits for Sunday what comes to the fan, aware that his illness is pushing the proliferation of tributes. “I’ve been one of not expecting too much but giving everything and from then on whatever will happen. Looking ahead to Sunday, I expect the same thing. I can’t play. I can’t intervene, I’ll just take the kick-off. I hope that people transmit what you feel and I suppose it will not be only because of the years of my career and in Osasuna, but because of the situation that I am currently living in. When I receive awards and tributes I know that they are conditioned by my illness, by my current situation and, in the Ultimately, I am very grateful because I believe that a football performance is not being rewarded exclusively, but that what has attracted attention is my person, my way of acting in a situation like the one I am experiencing. And I am very grateful”.

The kick-off of honor of the ex-soccer player is the kick-off of honor of his entire family, of the people who help him and of those who claim his work in this task of raising awareness of ALS and its needs. “I feel privileged because of the family and the close environment that I have. This is essential. Some will not be on Sunday, because my father is not alive and was there the day of my debut, but my mother will be, at 95 years old as a champion. And he will be excited and happy as much or more than me. My wife, one of my children will be there, It will surely be an exciting day and one of the moments that I will not forget in my life. ”


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