Basque by birth but Valencian by feeling,
Juan Cruz Sol
(1947) would have gladly been a pelotari, like his father, but football caught him and became one of the axes of his life.
Valencia's ambassador, despite his time at Real Madrid, in recent years he has been the noble face of the company that bought the club in 2006. At the age of 73, he passed away after a long illness.
He could still see how his image dominated the Mestalla facade in the last and historic victory of Valencia against Real Madrid, the two teams that marked his career and life.
Sol was born in
, in an industrial region where Garbi shotguns were manufactured as well as Orbea bicycles or Sigma sewing machines.
Until his youth, he combined football with fronton, but
, a scout for Valencia in the north, signed him at the age of 16.
He left the Basque Country and moved to the shores of the Mediterranean, where he made the jump to the first team very quickly.
That tall, fast and noble boy arrived as an interior, and in that position he made his debut in the 65/66 season without having reached the age of 18 with
A year later, under
was delayed to the side, where he became a solvent defender with extraordinary ability due to his physique to join the attack.
Of the first wingers who went up the band.
Before turning 21 he had already been proclaimed champion of the 66/67 Cup and runner-up in 69/70.
His decade was that of the 70's. He debuted it with his debut in the Spanish National Team on February 11 against Federal Germany in Seville.
Ladislao Kubala gave him the opportunity and for six years he was international 28 times.
His last match was also against West Germany, led by Franz Beckembauer, in the quarterfinals of the Euro 76. By then he had already won his first league.
In the 70/71 campaign, with Di Stefano on the bench, Valencia were proclaimed league champions.
Sol, with number 2 on his back, and
were the sides of that team that only conceded 19 goals, led by
and reached the Cup finals of 70, 71 and 72 without being able to win any.
The decline, sporting and economic, of that Valencia led Sol to Real Madrid in the summer of 1975.
The premonitory hunt with Bernabéu
had warned him the day they met in a restaurant after a hunt in Almansa:
"Juan, let's see if one day you can sign for Real Madrid
The white club paid 30 million pesetas for the 27-year-old winger, who became the most expensive signing in history at that time and in the first major operation between the two clubs that agent
, with whom he joined an intense friendship for life.
Sol was by then the image of a noble athlete, educated on and off the field, so much so that Mestalla never took a toll on him for his goodbye.
He understood that it was an award for his excellent performance on the field.
What's more, it opened the doors to him on his return to become a legend.
In Madrid he won three leagues and shared a dressing room with
But the injuries and the calvary of the knee appeared.
He could not play the 78/79 Cup final in which Valencia were proclaimed champions against Real Madrid.
That summer, he underwent surgery, but his recovery was not complete.
With the letter of freedom under his arm, he returned to Valencia five years after its sale.
back on the bench, his presence was already testimonial, but it gave him to be a participant in the title of the Recopa and the European Super Cup.
In 1981, at the age of 32, he left football.
From delegate to director
Sol is away from football until
makes him a delegate of the first team.
On the bench with
Jorge Valdano he
commits his first stumble: in Santander he does not warn the coach that he was going to alienate five non-EU citizens.
It costs Valdano the dismissal and he is separated for a few months from his duties to which he will return to shield
, next to whom he lives the two painful defeats in the Champions League finals.
Rafa Benítez he
runs into the non-EU again in a duel against the modest
This time the error leaves Valencia out of the Copa del Rey and he resigns.
Six months later, he will be one of the players who, as champion of the League Cup in 71, celebrated in Mestalla the achievement of a new championship in May 2002.
Without disconnecting from football, in 2006 he accepted the offer of his friend
, to become the eyes of the London club in Spain.
In fact, in 2009 he came to present an offer to the club for David Villa.
With the consequences that the injuries left him, Sol returned to Valencia in 2013, when
offered him an armchair first at the Foundation as a patron and then on the board of directors as a representative of the former players.
Despite the replacement of Meriton after the departure of the last Valencian councilor, he remains and becomes the club's ambassador, a task that had been complicated in recent years by his delicate state of health.
His canvas at Mestalla will be the best memory of one of Valencia's noblest legends.
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