It is always difficult to determine the "best" soccer players of all time from any country, as opinions about this can vary greatly. However, we give it a a try and give you a list of some of the most notable and successful players from El Salvador:
Jorge "Mágico" González (1975-1999)
Jorge "Mágico" is considered one of the greatest players in the history of El Salvador. He played as a forward for the El Salvador national team and clubs in El Salvador and Honduras. He was known for his skill, speed, and goal-scoring ability. He is widely considered the best player ever to come out of El Salvador.
Throughout his 24-year professional career, he was primarily affiliated with FAS and the Spanish club Cádiz. Despite his lack of discipline, he was widely regarded as El Salvador's greatest and most talented footballer, and one of the best players in the CONCACAF region. For over 20 years, including the 1982 World Cup and the 1998 Gold Cup, González played for the El Salvador national team.
González started his professional career in 1975, playing for ANTEL and Independiente F.C. for two seasons before joining C.D. FAS in the Salvadoran Primera División.
González earned the moniker Mago when playing in El Salvador, but it was modified somewhat to Mágico when he moved to Spain.
The Spanish years
González was sought after by both Atlético Madrid and Cádiz CF in 1982, but he ultimately decided to sign with the lower-profile Andalusians. Prior to his Segunda División debut on 5 September 1982, he played in a friendly against La Barca de la Florida. He scored in that game, which ended in a 1-1 tie. He quickly became a fan favorite after a season in which he played 33 games and scored 14 goals and helped propel Cádiz to promotion to La Liga. Magico was also known for his penchant for the nightlife and questioned sleeping habits.
Cádiz visited the United States in 1983 and in 1984 accompanied by Barcelona with its superstar Diego Maradona who later said of the Salvadoran that he was "without a doubt among the greatest 10 players I have ever seen play, in all my life."
In 1991 Magico went back to El Salvador to play for FAS. He remained with the former until retiring in 1999, at which point he began an assistant coaching career in Houston.
After his career González was awarded El Salvador's highest accolade, the Hijo Meritsimo, and the country's national stadium, Estadio Nacional Flor Blanca, was renamed in his honor in 2003. On August 28, 2004, a second testimonial match was performed in his honor, this time in El Salvador at the Mágico González Stadium; he played a half with each side and scored three goals in total, aged 46..
Raúl Díaz Arce
Raúl Díaz Arce is widely considered one of the greatest soccer players in the history of El Salvador. He began his professional career in the late 1980s, playing for several clubs in El Salvador and Mexico. He also played for the El Salvador national team, earning more than 100 caps and scoring a national record of 45 goals.
In the 1990s, he played for several teams in the United States, such as the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New England Revolution, and also was the top goal scorer in the league for the 1996 season. After his retirement in 2000, he was inducted into the El Salvador Football Federation Hall of Fame.
Juan Francisco Barraza
Juan Francisco Barraza Flores was a football player and manager for El Salvador. He was born on March 12, 1935 and died on December 17, 1997.
Barraza joined C.D. Corona at the age of eight after starting to play soccer in elementary school. Extreme poverty forced him to resort to playing with rag balls.
Since he was poor, he had to play soccer barefoot for 15 years.
After he was finally able to purchase soccer cleats, he had to work to adapt to them.
On February 15, 1953, he debuted for Dragón in a professional match against El Palermo de Guatemala. A year later, he led El Salvador to victory at the Central American and Caribbean Games. In 1958, he signed with Aguila, and during his time there, they won multiple league championships.
The match against Honduras on June 8th, 1969 was his last as a member of the national team. He scored 24 goals in 64 games
Soccer fans adored him for his technical prowess and pure skill while he played for C.D. Corona, Dragón, and eventually Aguila, winning multiple trophies with each team. Soccer teams in Brazil (especially in So Paulo) and Mexico were vying for the chance to sign Barraza because of his exceptional play, but he never went abroad.
After his death he was honoured in a beautiful way: Estadio Juan Francisco "Cariota" Barraza became the name of the municipal stadium in his home department of San Miguel.