Legendary Football Players: Antonio Carbajal

Antonio Carbajal

95. Antonio Carbajal

One of the greatest players of all time to come from Mexico, goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal became a World Cup legend despite never playing for a team that got past the group stage. Starting out with Santa María de la Ribera in 1946, he moved to Necaxa later that year where his career really started to take off. His two year stay with Necaxa saw Carbajal called up to the Mexican Olympic team in 1948, but he did not appear in the tournament in London.

Following those Olympics, Carbajal moved on to the España club in Mexico where he stayed for another two seasons, and forced his way again into the national team for the World Cup finals in Brazil. His full international debut came in the opening match against the host nation, where Mexico lost 4-0 although Carbajal could not be blamed for the loss. He played in all of Mexico's group games, and following the tournament signed for León.

In 1952 Carbajal won his first major honour as León took the Mexican League title, and he also appeared in the first Panamerican Championship. He appeared in his second World Cup in Switzerland in 1954, playing just one match, and in 1956 added a second league title with León. He would win no more major honours in domestic football but remained with León for the rest of his playing career, staying in the national team until the age of 37.

Carbajal appeared in his third World Cup in Sweden in 1958 and his fourth in Chile four years later, a tournament which appeared to have brought his World Cup career to an end. However, he was surprisingly called out of semi-retirement to join the squad for an unprecedented fifth finals in the 1966 tournament in England. He was not first choice, but when Mexico struggled in their first two games he was chosen to play in the last group game against Uruguay, and kept a clean sheet. That match proved to be the end of Carbajal's playing career, and he remains to this day one of only two players to appear in five World Cups.

His coaching career had started as a player-coach with León, and he stayed in charge of the club after his retirement from playing. Carbajal led León to consecutive victories in the Mexican Cup in 1971 and 1972 but falied to win the biggest prize, the league championship. He also coached Atletico Morelia, Unión de Curtidores and Atletas Campesinos before his retirement from the game.
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Antonio Carbajal
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