World football champion
Fans in Chile, Argentina and Italy got to know the goals of the “Matador", who retired as the national team’s historic goal scorer.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
José Marcelo Salas Melinao was born on 24 December, 1974 in Temuco, the Araucania Region, in the South of Chile, where much of the country’s indigenous population, specifically the Mapuche ethnia, concentrates.
His triumphs in football began at Universidad de Chile, a club that he took to the national championship in 1994 and 1995. The following season he led the “blue team” to the semi-finals of Copa Libertadores.
The loyal supporters of the "U", one of the most popular and traditional institutions in Chilean football, baptized him as "Matador", for the coolness of its definition in the rival area and due to a popular song of the same name by the Argentinean band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.
His success earned the forward, who celebrated his goals by resting his left leg on the ground with his right index finger pointing to the sky, a contract in one of the most powerful institutions of South American football, River Plate of Argentina. Wearing their jersey he won three local tournaments and earned the title of King of America for best football player in 1997.
After the 1998 France World Cup, during which he scored four goals and advanced to the second round with Chile’s national team, he landed in Italy, specifically in the Lazio. After 25 years of frustration, Salas worked to make the Rome team win the Scudetto in 2000, among other awards.
Juventus paid EUR 25 million for the "Matador" a transfer that turned him into the national football player for whom a club paid the highest price in history.
Newly arrived in Turin, the attacker suffered broken ligaments in his right knee. Although the Chilean had a very limited participation, the Vecchia signora won the local titles in 2002 and 2003.
Marcelo Salas worked his way back to River Plate (2003) and Universidad de Chile (2005), from which he retired from professional football. His farewell game in his honor was attended by 60 thousand people and global celebrities such as Enzo Francescoli, Ariel Ortega and David Trezeguet.
Supported by his no less famous compatriot Ivan Zamorano, Marcelo Salas made 37 goals in the adult national team since he scored against Diego Maradona’s “light blue and white” team in 1994, making him the top scorer of the Roja (Chilean national team).
Retired from competitive activity, Marcelo Salas splits his time between his family, a sports event production company and a club that he created in his hometown: Union Temuco, that has participated with success in 2010 in the second division of professional Chilean football.