Juan Gómez 'Juanito' during his days with Malaga CF. / SUR

Fuengirola celebrates the life of Juan Gómez 'Juanito'

The 30th anniversary of the footballer's death will be marked with a mass, a screening of a documentary about his life, and several football matches

TONY BRYANT

Fuengirola will honour Juan Gómez, a local footballer who was affectionately known as 'Juanito', with a programme of events to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his death.

The celebrated footballer, who wore the number seven shirt for Malaga, was killed in a road accident on 2 April 1992, and the memorial events began on Tuesday with a mass held at the Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen.

The programme has been designed together with his family and colleagues from the world of sports and includes the preview of Juanito, a documentary about the remarkable football legacy the legendary international winger left on the history of Spanish football.

The screening, which will be preceded by a floral offering in the municipal cemetery at 5pm, will take place at the Palacio de la Paz auditorium on Friday 1 April at 6.30pm.

This will be followed by a round table that will include the participation of former footballers and sports journalists.

The memorial events will continue at the Elola sports complex on Saturday 2 April, where several football matches in his honour will take place.

The documentary premiered at the Malaga Film Festival last week and it will go on to cinemas in various cities in Spain, including Malaga.

The film traces the life journey of Juanito from his native Fuengirola to his triumph at Burgos and Real Madrid, his time at Malaga, and his subsequent coaching career, which was cut short with his untimely death.

Turning his career around

Despite his greatness, the documentary is not limited to praise. It also highlights the five-year ban he received for attacking the Bayern Munich player Lothar Matthäus, an incident that actually turned his career around , because it meant his departure from Real Madrid and his arrival at Malaga.

His son Roberto, who along with his brother Juan visited the Rosaleda Stadium last week with the film's producer, Pilar Crespo, said,

"The documentary expresses his story well. It is a way of showing that our father had many problems at the beginning of his career, but that did not prevent him from turning it around to end up becoming one of the best players in Spanish football,"

The people of Fuengirola will always remember Juanito with much affection, and his name, which has long been associated with the municipal sports pavilion, will forever bring back memories of "Illa Illa Juanito Maravilla".

"Our father was a person who always had a smile on his face and who never said no to anyone," his proud son, Roberto, said.