José Eulogio Gárate – The Engineer of the Box

Diego starts our history lessons with a look at Gárate

Garate during his farewell to Atlético

Garate during his farewell to Atlético

It’s May 2014. Thousands of Atlético fans patiently wait in the queue to get their tickets for the Champions League final that Atlético was about to play in Lisbon.

Suddenly a rumour spreads like wildfire. José Eulogio Gárate, living legend of the Atlético Madrid team that played another European final in 1974, is waiting in line to get tickets.

Soon, a club employee sees him and the club offers him an invitation to watch the final with the rest of Atleti veteran players.

They did not know that he wanted tickets because Gárate does not like to take advantage of his status to get favours. Not very surprising for those who were lucky enough to watch him play.

Gárate was born during 1944 in Argentina while his parents were visiting his grandfather, exiled since the Spanish Civil War. They returned some months after and they settled in Eibar, where he would start his footballing career for SD Eibar.

He later moved to Bilbao to begin his Industrial Engineering studies at the same time that he was playing for Indauchu, an amateur team from Bilbao.

Scouts from Atlético Madrid discovered the youngster and quickly signed him. He had not finished his studies yet, but he later did, earning his nickname “El Ingeniero del Área” (The Engineer of the Box”).

Atlético had signed a very talented striker, one who could create a chance and finish it on his own. He was neither specially tall nor hefty, and that was a handicap during a time when defenders used to play very physical and the referees were not as protective as today.

Fortunately, he was able to compensate these alleged issues with lots of skills, creativity, and goals. His legs used to be bruised after every match, but he never hit back. After every foul he silently got up to keep playing.

During his eleven years playing for Atlético he got only three yellow cards; two of them during the same match, being the only time that he was ever sent off, and it was a controversial call anyway.

He became one of the Atlético most important players of the 60s and 70s, doing what he knew best: scoring goals. He won three “Pichichi” Trophies for the best scorer in Liga and scored 137 goals.

He is usually overshadowed by Luis Aragonés as the icon of that team, although to be fair, Luis Aragonés’ shadow is huge. Gárate was a player liked and respected by everyone, even rival teams, because of his class, humility and good manners on and off the pitch.

He won two Ligas (1969/70 and 1972/73), two Copas (1971/72 and 1975/76) and the Intercontinental Cup (1975). He was also member of the team during the Liga 1976/77 that was won by Atlético, but he featured sparingly.

Gárate appeared in the 1974 European Cup final, where an uncalled foul on him lead to the Bayern goal that doomed Atleti. Even so, this final was probably not Gárate’s worst moment as football player. It may be shocking, but the worst match of his career was another final – one where he scored the winning goal.

Atlético played against Zaragoza in the 1976 “Copa del Generalísimo” final, the last one before the name changed to “Copa del Rey”. During the match, Gárate was fouled by the Zaragoza player Heredia, who left him with an open wound on his knee. That seemed to be just one more of the many injuries that Gárate had during his career, but this time was different.

The medical services of the day, not as advanced as modern sports medicine, were not able to figure out why Gárate’s injury was taking so long to heal.

They later discovered that the wound had been infected by a fungus that was literally devouring his knee, living on the cortisone that they were mistakenly giving Gárate. At one point they even considered amputation the knee, although it was not necessary at the end. However, he was to never play a football match again.

Spanish football lost a gentleman and Atlético lost an icon, but they won a legend. Atlético paid homage to Gárate with a tribute match at the Vicente Calderón between Atlético de Madrid and a team formed by players from Athletic Club and Real Sociedad.

The stadium was overcrowded, and not only by Atlético fans. It is said that many fans of different teams (including Real Madrid) wanted to bid farewell to Gárate. He would have loved to play that match, but he could only thank the fans from the pitch, wearing a suit and leaving aside his crutches to receive the 1977 Liga trophy and take an honorary kick of the football.

After retiring from football, he worked as Industrial Engineer until his (second) retirement. Nowadays he is focused on his family while he still enjoys Atlético Madrid, his second family.

He was the idol of an entire generation of Atlético fans that suffered for him during his injuries and compensated with joy his modest celebrations.

He thought that an excessive celebration was disrespectful to the rivals. This is how humble Gárate was. A gentleman, an idol, a legend. El Ingeniero del Área.

  • Great article Diego .. as always

    It’s really sad that good people don’t get the appreciation they deserve, the bad ones get more attention, for many people, Goikoetxea (butcher of Bilbao) is more famous than Garate, and I don’t think this will ever change .. it’s a human nature !

    When I read the news of Garate getting in the line to buy a ticket for UCL final, I thought it will go viral, but it didn’t, at least not in the same way for news like the wild night or the new tattoo or new haircut for nowadays “superstars”

    Garate is the 4th top scorer in Atleti history and the 15th most capped with 325 games, just 6 games more than Raul Garcia
    So it’s not just a great article, but a great timing as well, so when we read in few weeks that Raul Garcia has passed Garate we will have good informations and fresh memories about that great player .. and greater person

  • Fantastic article Diego, thank you so much for sharing!

  • starvs

    Really enjoyed this, thank you.

  • Kris

    Wow. I had ever only heard of Garate, but never had any background as to who he actually was. I have mad respect for players who continue their studies even when they’re playing football. Of course, he was playing for an amateur team which gave him more time than the professionals, but he wasn’t complacent and was smart enough to invest his time in to his studies. Modern footballers have at least something to learn from him, as if their footballing career is to end suddenly, they will have another option to get their income from.

    It’s also astonishing how sports medicine and in general, medicines in general have evolved with technology. Maybe if we had the technology that we do now, Garate could have been as prominent as Aragones.

    Thank you, Diego, for ending the article with “He thought that an excessive celebration was disrespectful to the rivals. This is how humble Gárate was. A gentleman, an idol, a legend.” Many football players lack that these days. Cristiano would probably find it useful to study Garate’s celebrations.

  • juanito

    Stfu! Stop pretending like you know the history of the club. You just googled that.
    You didn’t even know atleti 2 years ago. You jumped on the bandwagon with all glory hunters recently.

    Go back to supporting Al Ahly.

  • diego_carp

    Thank you all for your kind words!

  • starvs

    Whether he google’d it or it was divine inspiration, the fact that he gathered, compiled, and presented the information here would point to the fact that he does indeed know the (at least this) history of the club. These fact’s Ahmad outlined here are clearly not ‘pretend’.

    There is a clear difference between a bandwagon fan and someones fandom who is more recent. A bandwagon fan would not care to even google said history.

    Your comment it needless aggressive, presumptuous, childish, full of faulty logic, and quite frankly embarrassing.

    Instead, why don’t you demonstrate your stalwart 1,000 year old true fanhood by dropping some super secret knowledge only a real die hard like you could have the mental fortitude and historical depth of club understanding to comprehend; otherwise don’t bother coming back if you are going to add no meaningful content.

  • Chewie

    I watched a couple of videos with the guy and have to say he had a brilliant mind. While his manners and philosophy are a true gem, especially in the world of modern football. A great man.

  • We don’t want comments like this here.

  • Thank you very much Starvs
    But you didn’t have to defend me, he is just a pathetic troll, the other day he attacked me by saying that I belong to Muslim Brotherhood, which I’m not (although I believe it’s not a bad thing to belong to them) and now he asks me to go back to support Al Ahly which also I’m not a fan of them !

    They are some losers who seems to have some problems with my tweets about politics, and I don’t know why they don’t discuss it in twitter, maybe because it has a block button !
    One of them attacked me here few days ago, in Arabic, it was just one line, 8 words to be precise, but yet he didn’t know how to write them in English !
    This type of people don’t even deserve a reply, it make them worthy, and they are not
    We had a couple of them in the last 2 years, and they eventually got bored and stopped
    But thank you again

    On the other hand, I wish your words have come from Nick, the administrator of this website, who should not just have said those words you said, but even remove those kinds of comments
    Those aren’t opinions, they are pure insults, involving politics which should not have a place here, some of them in Arabic, and this is an English website, and I believe asking me to “go back to support Al Ahly” is racist and xenophobic, if he is really called Juanito .. he could be a fellow Arab, or even an Egyptian !

    One last thing :
    more than a year ago I said that Atleti is immune against “glory hunters” for some reasons I explained back then, and I still believe that theory
    None of me or Mr.Juanito is a glory hunter
    I am a true fan, and he is a lame troll

  • Ooops !
    You posted your comment while I was in the middle of writing mine
    Sorry about that .. and thank you

    But I hope you don’t get offended when I say :
    too little too late
    This has been going on for a while now, and nothing has been done about it
    It’s not that I care about what those people say, but it because I love this website very much and I hate to see it becoming a place for personal fights, and not even about Atleti or football, but about something else

    I really have to apologize to Diego for causing these arguments under his great article .. but I can’t do anything about it

  • He won the Pichichi trophy 3 seasons in a row, Messi couldn’t do that, while Raul and the two Ronaldos have only won it twice each
    In fact, only 8 players have won the Pichichi 3 times or more, and only 5 have did that in 3 consecutive seasons or more
    But Garate -because he is an Atleti player- didn’t and doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves like Di Stefano, Puskas & Hugo Sanchez for example, despite that he has retired more recently than the first 2

    As I said to Tommy in “Simeone’s men: reckless thugs or tactical genius?” article : maybe Jianlin should make us our own newspaper, like Madrid and Barca have theirs
    That’s the only way Atleti will get the attention and appreciation they truly deserve !

  • Deleted all comments that didn’t have any relation to the article. Please guys, keep it on the topic here.

  • Ringo

    Know what the beautiful thing is, he probably isn’t even mad about that himself, being the humble guy he is. As in genuinely not mad about it.

    My favorite type of person.

    This is why I always liked Perea and Filipe, they were gentlemen too, and because that seems so rare (outside of football too), they got a fan in me, even if it wasn’t for football reasons.

    ON: Gárate, Legend, Hero. All that is needed. May he live a lovely life and inspire more people. Even a few like us would be lovely and a victory.