Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8 March 1949 - The Coming Of Hugo

On 8 March 1949, Barcelona star and 1975 Copa America hero Hugo Sotil was born in Ica, Peru. A striker and attacking midfielder, Sotil's skill on the ball has been compared to that of George Best. Unfortunately, the comparisons don't stop there, as drinking problems led to his premature decline.

Sotil made his professional debut in 1968 with CD Municipal, where he scored 49 goals in five seasons. In 1973, he moved to Barcelona and, alongside Johann Cruyff, he helped them win the league in his first season--Barça's first league title in 14 years. His problems with alcohol surfaced in his second season and he temporarily lost his starting position to newcomer Johann Neeskens, though he reclaimed it during the 1975-76 season.

He earned 62 caps for Peru during his career, but the most significant one was the 1975 Copa America final against Colombia. Barcelona did not allow him to participate in the preliminary matches, so he flew to Caracas for the final, heading directly to the stadium from the airport and arriving there as his teammates were already warming up. Despite the lack of preparation, he scored the match's only goal in the 25th minute to give Peru the 1-0 victory.

Sotil returned to Peru in 1977 to play for Alianza Lima, winning the league in his only two seasons there. He spent two seasons with Independiente Medellín, two with CD Municipal, and one with Espartanos FC before retiring in 1984 at the age of 35.

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