WHERE ARE THEY NOW: HEROES FROM THE LAST CRUZ AZUL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF 1997

The 2021 Guardianes season comes to an end this weekend as the Final is set. Cruz Azul and Santos Laguna face each other in the final!

Los Celestes look to win their first title since the 1998 season and break their long “curse” that has plagued the team and its fans.

The last time Cruz Azul was champion of Liga MX, Sebastian Jurado, current second-string goalkeeper of the team and a rising star for Mexico, wasn’t even born, and Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodriguez was only 4 years old. All that to say, it has been a long time since La Maquina has won the league. Back in the 1997 final, Cruz Azul won the first leg 1-0. On the second leg, Leon sent it to extra time after tying it 1-1. Then came the famous aggression committed by Leon goalkeeper, Angel Comizzo. That clear penalty scored by Carlos Hermosillo ended up giving Cruz Azul their eighth and last Liga MX title.


The table at the end of the regular season, and later playoff path, in 1997 was the following:

League Table at the end of the 1997 season.
Liguilla at the end of the 1997 season. Cruz Azul would eventually win the championship game against Leon 2-1.

The questions now is: where are these Cruz Azul players now? Still linked to soccer? Here is the starting XI and their current whereabouts of that Cruz Azul Championship team:

Oscar Perez – The player with most games played in the history of Liga MX, he is currently the goalkeeper manager of the Cruz Azul’s first team. He had a successful and historic trajectory on the team, goalkeeping from 1993 to 2008.

Guadalupe Castañeda – Famous right back player who played his entire career in Mexican teams such as Atlas, Leon, Chivas, Dorados and, of course, Cruz Azul. He was the assistant manager for Cruz Azul Hidalgo until 2019 and can often be found giving motivational talks to current athletes. In recent days during the pandemic, we have seen “Lupillo” gardening at home or working in the kitchen, as he has posted in his social media.

Guadalupe Castañeda – Famous right back player who played his entire career in Mexican teams such as Atlas, Leon, Chivas, Dorados and, of course, Cruz Azul. He was the assistant manager for Cruz Azul Hidalgo until 2019 and can often be found giving motivational talks to current athletes. In recent days during the pandemic, we have seen “Lupillo” gardening at home or working in the kitchen, as he has posted in his social media.

José Luis Sixtos – The mexican defensive back had cancer detected years after the championship, at which point he decided to retire to fight against the terrible disease. Nowadays, he works with young people who aspire to be professional players.

Juan Reynoso – Peruvian former captain of the team during that championship, he has been the current manager of Cruz Azul since January 2021. Under his command, the team has had a great performance so far and currently stands in 1st place.

Omar Rodríguez – Since his retirement in 2006, not much has been known about him. He participates in exhibition matches together with other former Cruz Azul players and manages various investment properties, according to his social media.

Joaquin Moreno – After his retirement, he returned to Cruz Azul in 2014 to coach the reserve teams. Later, he was interim coach of the first team on different occasions and has been second assistant manager under different head coaches such as Jemez and Siboldi. He is currently the manager of Cruz Azul Hidalgo.

Carlos Barra – He retired in 2002 with Cruz Azul. Five years later he started coaching in Veracruz and Monterrey in 2015. He has been a part of the Real Oviedo coaching staff in Spain and is currently Assistant Manager for Vucetich in Chivas de Guadalajara.

Hector Adomaitis – The Argentine was one of the most important players in that championship squad. In recent years, he was coach of Chilean side Deportes Melipilla from 2018 to 2020. Currently, he is not coaching a team.

Julio Cesar Yergos – The paraguayan forward has been separated from soccer since 2009. He played professionally in Mexico for 11 years, from 1995-2006. It wasn’t always with Cruz Azul, as he also played with Tecos, Monterrey, Pumas, and Jaguares among others. It’s known that he quietly lives in his native Paraguay and although he is not involved in the soccer world anymore, he has visited with the Cruz Azul squad in recent years.

Benjamin Galindo – Mexican World Cup legend and a talented midfielder, he is currently still linked to soccer. He has coached four Liga MX teams, where he was champion with one of them, Santos Laguna. He was most recently part of Matias Almeyda’s coaching staff with the San Jose Earthquakes but unfortunately suffered a stroke in May of 2020. He is currently still recovering from the effects of said stroke.

Francisco Palencia – He was sports director of Chivas after retiring, but his true passion is to be a manager. His last coaching job in Liga MX was with Mazatlan FC, though he’s previously coached Lobos BUAP as well as Pumas. Currently he is a coach for youth development team, Tec Academy Barcelona.

Key Subsitutes:

Carlos Hermosillo – The hero of that last championship, he was subbed on at the 92nd minute and scored the winning goal in the 100th minute. Nowadays, Carlos works as a sports commentator in Telemundo.

For our younger readers and for those older ones wanting to reminisce, below is an actual recap of that 1997 final:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZQG0-iNaX0&t=10s

The first leg of the series will be TODAY, May 27th @ 10 PM ET/ 7 PM PT and the 2nd leg will be on Sunday, May 30th @ 9:15 PM ET / 6:15 PM PT.

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