Hugo Sánchez

Hugo Sánchez Márquez (born 11 July 1958) is a Mexican former professional football player and manager, who played as a forward. A prolific goalscorer known for his spectacular strikes and volleys, Sánchez is widely regarded as the greatest Mexican footballer of all time.[3] In 1999, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics voted Sánchez the 26th best footballer of the 20th century, and the best footballer from the CONCACAF region.[4] In 2004 Sánchez was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.[5] He is the fourth highest scorer in the history of La Liga, the third highest scoring foreign player after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo,[6] and is the seventh highest goalscorer in Real Madrid's history.[7] He scored a total of 562 senior career goals for both club and country in 956 matches.

Hugo Sánchez
Sánchez in 2008
Personal information
Full name Hugo Sánchez Márquez[1]
Date of birth (1958-07-11) 11 July 1958
Place of birth Mexico City, Mexico
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Position(s) Forward[1]
Youth career
1972–1975 UNAM
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1976–1981 UNAM 188 (97)
1979–1980 → San Diego Sockers (loan) 32 (26)
1981–1985 Atlético Madrid 111 (54)
1985–1992 Real Madrid 207 (164)
1992–1993 América 29 (11)
1993–1994 Rayo Vallecano 29 (16)
1994–1995 Atlante 31 (13)
1995–1996 Linz 20 (6)
1996 Dallas Burn 23 (6)
1997 Atlético Celaya 11 (4)
Total 681 (397)
National team
1977–1994 Mexico 58[2] (29)
Teams managed
2000 UNAM
2000 Mexico (interim)
2001–2005 UNAM
2006 Necaxa
2006–2008 Mexico
2008 Mexico U-23
2008–2009 Almería
2012 Pachuca
Medal record
Pan American Games
1975 Mexico CityTeam competition
Representing  Mexico
Runner-upCopa América1993
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Sánchez began his career playing for Club Universidad Nacional in 1976, and briefly went on loan to the San Diego Sockers of the North American Soccer League in 1979. In 1981, he moved to Spain to play for Atlético Madrid, playing for the Colchoneros for four years before moving to cross-town rivals Real Madrid, where he would spend the best years of his career, winning numerous titles and accolades.

From 1977 to 1994, Sánchez was a member of the Mexico national team, gaining 58 caps and scoring 29 goals. He participated in three FIFA World Cup tournaments and was a part of the Mexico team that reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup. Famous for his acrobatic goal celebrations throughout his club and international career, Sánchez was the first notable exponent of the backflip.[8]

As a manager, he won two consecutive league championships with UNAM. After managing Necaxa, he was announced as coach of the Mexico national football team in 2006, but was fired in March 2008 due to poor results.[9] In 2009, Sánchez was named manager of UD Almería, and helped to save the club from relegation.[10]

Club career


As a teenager, Sánchez played for the Mexico national team at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Having already played in over 80 international matches, Sánchez signed as a youth player at the age of 18 for Pumas de la UNAM, a professional team representing Mexico's national university, where he completed a degree in Dentistry while playing for the first team.[11] Later that year, UNAM managed to win its first championship in the Primera División. Two years later, he became the league's top-scorer with 26 goals.

In 1979, UNAM agreed to exchange players during the off-season with the San Diego Sockers of the North American Soccer League. He played in the NASL during the summer and in the Mexican league during the fall, winter and spring. UNAM loaned Sánchez to the Sockers in 1979 and 1980 where he became a prolific striker for the Sockers, averaging nearly a goal a game.[12]

Sánchez's five seasons with UNAM were during the team's golden years. In 1980–81, his last season with the club, Sánchez and UNAM won its second league championship, a CONCACAF Champions Cup and a Copa Interamericana. During his five years with UNAM, Sánchez scored 104 goals in 200 appearances.

Atlético Madrid

After five successful seasons in Mexico, Sánchez drew the attention of several European sides, including that of English club Arsenal,[11] though eventually signing with Spanish side Atlético Madrid in 1981. It took him a while to find his feet in La Liga, only managing twenty league appearances and scoring eight goals in his first season, but by the 1984–1985 season he was scoring regularly with a team that won the Copa del Rey, finished second in the league and won the Spanish Super Copa. That year, Sánchez won his first Pichichi trophy for being the most prolific scorer in the league, scoring 26 goals.

Real Madrid

Sánchez in 1988

On 15 July 1985, Sánchez signed for Real Madrid.[13] It was reported that due to Atlético Madrid's reluctance to anger their fan base with a direct deal with Real, Sánchez was transferred to UNAM back in his home country on 4 July before being signed by Real Madrid, with the contract signing taking place in a bank in Mexico City.[13] He was flown back to Spain and presented to 50,000 fans at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on 19 July.[14]

He played alongside the famed group of players known as the La Quinta del Buitre ("Vulture's Cohort"), which consisted of Emilio Butragueño, Manuel Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel, and Miguel Pardeza.[1] With Los Blancos, Sánchez won five consecutive league titles from 1985 to 1990, a Copa del Rey title in 1989 and the UEFA Cup in 1986. During those five years, Sánchez won four-consecutive Pichichi trophies, becoming the only player in Spanish football history to achieve this without sharing the trophy with any other player in any season, and one of four players to win five Pichichis (the others being Alfredo Di Stéfano, Quini and Messi (whom has won 6), scoring 208 goals in 283 games in all competitions. He scored 27 or more goals in four consecutive seasons between 1986 and 1990, including 38 goals in the 1989–90 season, tying the single-season record set in 1951 by Telmo Zarra and earning the European Golden Boot award for the best scorer in Europe. Remarkably, all 38 of these goals were scored with only a single touch.[15] His 38-goal tally stood as a league record until Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed it after scoring 40 goals in the 2010–11 season.[16] In European Cup competitions, Sánchez scored 47 goals in 45 matches. He has come to be known to be in the top 25 best football players in history.

Later career

In 1992, Sánchez returned to his native Mexico for a season and there he won the 1992 CONCACAF Champions' Cup with Club América before playing for a variety of clubs in Spain, Austria and the USA. He played for Dallas Burn in the inaugural year of Major League Soccer, becoming one of two footballers, along with Roy Wegerle, to play outdoor football in both the NASL and the MLS. He finished his career playing for Atlético Celaya, along with Butragueño and Míchel, his old colleagues from Real Madrid.


Sánchez retired from Spanish football on 29 May 1997, playing with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. His last official game was during the 1998 World Cup qualifiers, where he touched the ball as a symbol of his retirement.

International career

Sánchez made 58 appearances for Mexico between 1977 and 1994, scoring 29 goals.[2] Prior to representing the senior side, as a teenager he represented Mexico at the 1975 Pan American Games on home soil, where he won a gold medal,[17] and at the 1976 Summer Olympics.[3] He participated in three FIFA World Cup tournaments, making eight World Cup appearances in total, and scoring once.[3] Also, with Chilean Elias Figueroa holds the unique distinction of playing in three alternate tournaments 1978-1986-1994. He helped Mexico win the 1977 CONCACAF Championship to seal qualification for the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina;[18] at the age of 19, he took part in the final tournament, where Mexico lost all three of their group games and suffered a first round elimination.[3]

After Mexico failed to qualify for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, Sánchez was a part of the Mexico team that reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup on home soil, losing out to eventual runners-up West Germany in a penalty shootout.[19] He scored his only World Cup goal during his nation's opening match of the tournament on 3 June, the winning goal in a 2–1 victory over Belgium,[3][20] although he also missed a penalty in Mexico's second group match against Paraguay, and was later booked, causing him to miss the final group match.[3][21] Four years later, however, Mexico once again missed out on the final tournament as they were suspended from the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.[3]

Despite his advancing age, he later played a key role in helping Mexico to the final of the 1993 Copa América, at the age of 35; he scored once in a 2–0 victory over Ecuador in the semi-finals, although Mexico eventually finished as runners-up to Argentina.[3][22] Sánchez later also appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, his final major tournament, where Mexico suffered a round of 16 elimination; he made his only appearance in the tournament on 19 June, in Mexico's opening match of the competition, a 1–0 defeat to Norway.[3]

Managerial career


In March 2000, Sánchez became manager of UNAM, who were struggling in the league, signing a two-year deal. Although the team went on to have a good campaign under his leadership, differences between the club president and Sánchez resulted in his sacking in August of that year.

After Jimenez Espriu resigned as the club president a year later, the new president, Luis Regueiro, appointed Sánchez as head coach in November 2001.

After building his team up for a number of years, by 2004 Sánchez' Pumas had won everything they played in: Clausura 2004, Apertura 2004, Champion of Champions 2004 and the Santiago Bernabéu Cup. He also became the only manager in history to lead a Mexican team to two consecutive championships in the Mexican Primera División in the "short tournament" format.

The success, however, was short lived. Pumas became the worst team of the tournament the following season and in Winter 2005 were having the worst year in its history. Sánchez decided to resign in November 2005.

Club Necaxa, another Mexican team, signed him as a head coach in 2006, and he also became the coach of the Mexico national team that year following their participation at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

He became coach of La Liga's Almería in early 2009, but after accomplishing the goal of avoiding relegation from La Liga, and despite on 2 June 2009 the Almeria chairman Alfonso García announcing the renewal of his contract,[23] he was released on 20 December 2009.


After briefly managing Club Necaxa, Sánchez was named head coach of the Mexico national team, with the aim of leading Mexico through the qualification process for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

During his coaching career especially, Sánchez became known for his volatile temperament and his willingness to speak candidly, often expressing strong emotions and opinions, a trait that engenders equally emotional and strong responses from those he criticizes. He had a long-standing feud with the previous Mexico coach, Ricardo La Volpe.

Sánchez's first match as Mexico coach was a 2–0 loss to the United States in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2007. Sánchez recorded his first victory against Venezuela, a 3–1 win in front of 67,000 fans in San Diego. Hugo's first game in Mexico took place against Paraguay in Monterrey on 25 March 2007, which Mexico won 2–1. A few days later on 28 March 2007, Mexico defeated Ecuador 4–2 in Oakland, California.

In June 2007 Sánchez coached Mexico in the 2007 edition of the Gold Cup, his first official competition. After struggling in the first stages of the tournament, México reached the final 24 June 2007 and lost 2–1 against the US.

On 27 June 2007, in the opening game of the 2007 Copa América held in Venezuela, Sánchez led the Mexico national team to a stunning 2–0 win Brazil, Hugo's first major victory as a coach. After easing through the group stage of the tournament, Hugo led the team to the semi-finals (beating Paraguay 6–0 in the quarter-finals) where they were beaten 3–0 by Argentina. Mexico ended the tournament in third place by defeating Uruguay 3–1.

In August 2007, Sánchez announced that Mexico would permanently, or at least in his time coaching the team, drop their famous green home kit, replacing it with their white away kit, meaning that their new away kit would be red. For this decision, Sánchez was subject of a lot of criticism. The two main arguments against him were that the decision was breaking a long-standing Mexican tradition, yet the strongest critics suggested that he should devote more time to the strategy and training of the Mexico team rather than entertaining himself with superfluous features of the sport.

In March 2008, Sánchez suffered poor results, including draws with Australia and Finland, and a loss at home in Querétaro against Ecuador's U-23 team. Disappointing results continued in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualification, a draw with Canada and a loss to Guatemala. His only victory was a 5–1 win against Haiti. Mexico were eliminated from the Pre-Olympic qualifying tournament on goal difference.

On 31 March 2008, Hugo Sánchez was fired from his post as Mexican head coach.[24]

Style of play

"When a player scores a goal like that, play should be suspended and a glass of champagne offered to the 80,000 fans that witnessed it."

—Leo Beenhakker referring to Sánchez’s overhead kick goal against Logroñés in 1988.[25]

Nicknamed Hugol and Pentapichichi, Sánchez was a prolific goalscorer, who usually played as a centre-forward; he is widely regarded as Mexico's greatest-ever footballer, and one of the greatest players of his generation.[1][3] A quick and mobile striker, with good skills and an eye for goal, he was known for his intelligence, positional sense, movement, and anticipation in the area, and was an accurate and efficient finisher, who was capable of scoring with few touches.[1][3][15][26]

Due to his athleticism, Sánchez was good in the air, despite his diminutive stature, and was also known for his ability to score acrobatic and flamboyant goals from spectacular strikes and volleys from any position on the pitch, both inside or outside the area; his mastery of the "Chilena", or "Bicycle kick", was a result of his own early training in gymnastics, and his goals scored in this manner were later dubbed Huguinas.[1][3][27] His trademark was to perform a celebratory somersault followed by a fist pump after each goal he scored, in honour of his sister, who was a gymnast and participated in the Montreal Olympics.[3][28] Sánchez is considered to be the first noted exponent of the backflip.[29]

According to his FIFA profile, Sánchez is credited as the creator of the scorpion kick, which was later popularised by Colombian goalkeeper René Higuita. Though he regularly practised the trick in training, the Mexican striker never scored a goal with it in an official match.[3]

An accurate penalty taker, Sánchez held the record for most penalties scored in La Liga with 56, until Cristiano Ronaldo broke the record in 2017 after scoring his 57th penalty-kick.[30]

Outside football

Personal life

Hugo Sánchez is the son of Héctor Sánchez, who was also a footballer who played for Asturias F.C. and Atlante. Sánchez is currently married to Isabel (née Martín), and has two children, a son and an older daughter from his previous marriage. His son, Hugo Sánchez Portugal, was also a footballer and played for UNAM and Atlante. He also has two daughters from his current marriage. On 8 November 2014, Sánchez Portugal died from the effects of a gas leak in a Mexico City apartment as stated by the Mexican Red Cross.[31]

In 2006, Sánchez was appointed as the official FIFA/SOS Ambassador for Mexico, joining Wayne Rooney (Ambassador for England), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands), and fifty others in fund raising for the official 2006 FIFA World Cup Charity.[32]

On 1 September 2007, Sánchez inaugurated a street with his name in Puebla, central Mexico, before a thousand of the locals around there.[33]


As of January 2015, Sánchez is a commentator for ESPN in Mexico and the United States. He had previously served as a guest analyst during their coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup before featuring as a regular analyst.[34]

Career statistics


Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
UNAM 1976–77 277----277
1977–78 3011----3011
1978–79 4528--204728
1979–80 4430--324732
1980–81 4221--754926
San Diego Sockers (loan) 1979 1712----1712
1980 1514----1514
Atlético Madrid 1981–82 20854202712
1982–83 311543--3922
1983–84 271220203919
1984–85 331986214729
Real Madrid 1985–86 3322521154929
1986–87 413466735443
1987–88 362973735035
1988–89 352764755037
1989–90 353863314542
1990–91 191211352519
1991–92 821011103
América 1992–93 2911--673518

Rayo Vallecano

1993–94 291661--3517
Atlante 1994–95 3113----3113
Linz 1995–96 206----206
Dallas Burn 1996 23621--257
Atlético Celaya 1996–97 114----114
Career total68139780506338822485



Mexico national team
Year Apps Goals

International goals


Managerial statistics

Last updated 17 June 2019

Nat From To Record
UNAM1 2000 2000 1474350%2520+5
Mexico2 2000 2000 311133.3%67-1
UNAM3 2001 2005 19282605041.67%290275+15
Necaxa 2006 2006 724128.57%811-3
Mexico 2006 2008 25148356%4329+14
Mexico U-234 2008 2008 824225%106+4
Almería5 2008 2009 421321830.95%4969-20
Pachuca6 2012 2012 2497837.5%23230
Career 3151301097641.27%454440+14

1Includes results from Liga MX
2Includes only results from 2000 U.S. Cup
3Includes results from Liga MX, Campeón de Campeones, 2003 Copa Libertadores, CONCACAF Champions' Cup 2005 and Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu
4Includes results from 2008 CONCACAF Men's Pre-Olympic Tournament and under-23 international friendly matches
5Includes results from La Liga, Copa del Rey and Trofeo Lagarto de Jaén
6Includes results from Liga MX and Copa MX




  • Primera División: 1976–77, 1980–81
  • CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1980
  • Copa Interamericana: 1980

Atlético Madrid

  • Copa del Rey: 1984–85

Real Madrid

  • La Liga: 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90
  • Supercopa de España: 1988, 1989, 1990
  • Copa del Rey: 1988–89
  • UEFA Cup: 1985–86


  • CONCACAF Champions' Cup: 1992


  • First League: 1995–96



  • Mexican Primera División Winger of the Tournament: 1977–78, 1978–79
  • Mexican Primera División Balón de Oro: 1978–79
  • Mexican Primera División Golden Boot: 1978–79
  • European Golden Shoe: 1990
  • La Liga top goalscorer: 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90
  • Don Balón Award – Best Foreign Player: 1986–87, 1989–90
  • CONCACAF Champions' Cup top goalscorer: 1992
  • Best Sportist of Mexico of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Best footballer of Mexico of the 20th century
  • IFFHS Best footballer of CONCACAF of the 20th century
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2010[38]
  • FIFA XI: 1982[39]
  • IFFHS Legends[40]
  • Marca Leyenda: 2018



  • Primera División: Clausura 2004, Apertura 2004
  • Campeón de Campeones: 2004



  • Mexican Primera División Manager of the Tournament: 2003–04, 2004–05
  • La Liga Best Replacement Manager: 2008–09


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  2. "Mexico - Record International Players". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  3. "FIFA Classic Player: Mexico's all-time number one". FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  4. Stokkermans, Karel. "IFFHS' Century Elections". RSSSF. Retrieved 17 December 2006.
  5. "Pele's list of the greatest". BBC Sport. 4 March 2004. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  6. "Ronaldo surpasses Hugo Sánchez". Marca. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  7. "Ronaldo, Raul & the top 20 scorers in Real Madrid's history". Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  8. "Bravo Bernardo, from duffer to dubber". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  9. "Hugo Sanchez fired as coach of Mexico". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Simolo, Gemma (7 December 2013). "Hugo Sánchez – 'Niño de Oro'". Inside Spanish Football. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  12. "AGAINST THE TIDE: THE STORY OF HUGO SANCHEZ AND SOCCER IN SAN DIEGO". 18 December 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  13. "Hugo Sánchez, a 30 años de firmar con el Real Madrid". ESPN Deportes (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  14. McTear, Euan. "The seven years that saw Emilio Butragueño and Hugo Sánchez score 43% of Real Madrid's goals". These Football Times. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  15. "The Hugo Sánchez record that'll never be broken". Marca. 31 October 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  16. "Hugo Sanchez's incredible Real Madrid record remains unbeaten". Marca. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  17. Neil Morrison (12 December 2008). "Panamerican Games 1975 (Mexico) - Match Details". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  18. Karel Stokkermans; Sergio Henrique Jarreta (3 January 2000). "World Cup 1978 Qualifying". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  19. "Germany Fr (0-0) Mexico". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  20. "Belgium (1-2) Mexico". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  21. GEORGE VECSEY (8 June 1986). "PARAGUAY TIES MEXICO, 1-1". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  22. Martín Tabeira (31 October 2013). "Copa América 1993". Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  23. "Hugo Sanchez To Stay On As Almeria Coach - Reports -". 2 June 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  24. "Sanchez dismissed as Mexico's coach". Los Angeles Times.
  25. Flint, Andrew. "Hugo Sánchez: the goalscoring sensation who broke down barriers at Real Madrid". These Football Times. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  26. "Cristiano Ronaldo equals Liga penalty record". 15 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
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  29. "Bravo Bernardo, from duffer to dubber". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  30. "Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo passes Hugo Sanchez's La Liga penalty record". ESPN FC. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  31. "Former Footballer Hugo Sanchez's Son Found Dead in Mexico City | Football News". Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  32. "Hugo Sánchez to attend 6 villages for 2006 opening in Morelia". SOS Children's Villages. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  33. "Inaugurada en México la calle Hugo Sánchez". El País. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  34. "Mexican Soccer Legend Hugo Sanchez Gets A New Gig". Latin Times. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  35. Utilisateur, Super. "El Aguanis - Ficha HUGO SANCHEZ Márquez". Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  36. "Hugo Sánchez (Hugo Sánchez) - Infoatleti". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  37. Hugo Sánchez Márquez - Goals in International Matches
  38. "Legends". Golden Foot. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  39. "Matches of FIFA XI". Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  40. "IFFHS announce the 48 football legend players". IFFHS. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
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