SANTA TECLA, El Salvador (Reuters) - It was not just shots on the pitch that El Salvador goalkeeper Ricardo Guevara Mora had to contend with after becoming the only man to concede double figures in a single World Cup finals match.
The then 20-year-old had to contend with real shots, from real bullets, in the aftermath of his World Cup nightmare in Spain when Hungary beat his country 10-1.
The humiliation left its mark — even for a country with little World Cup tradition — and Guevara was ridiculed, abused and even attacked when he returned to Central America after his country’s first-round elimination.
“What happened was the saddest day in our history,” Guevara, now 56, said in a tearful interview with Reuters.
“I was attacked. On one occasion they shot at the car I was driving — 22 bullet holes with an assault rifle.”
“I wouldn’t wish on anyone the things that I went through, and the truth is that if there is a bigger scoreline one day, then I’m not going to be happy, I am going to feel solidarity with those that it happens to because I know what they are going to go through,” he said.
Guevara, who went on to play professionally in Spain, the United States and Guatemala, is now a youth coach at a sports centre near the capital San Salvador.
His focus now is on helping prevent the 8,000 or so youngsters who fall under his care from joining local gangs.
He has not forgotten that fateful day in Alicante but he is nevertheless thankful for the opportunity to play on football’s greatest stage.
“I am happy now. I am no longer bitter,” he said. “On the contrary, I am thankful that I was able to play for my country.”
Writing by Andrew Downie,; Editing by Neville Dalton