Pumas and Mexico legend, Aaron Padilla has died from the COVID-19 virus. Padilla becomes the first known person related to Mexican football to die of the disease. Padilla was a key player in the 60s with Pumas and the Mexican national team. He was one of the key players in the Mexican National team that played in the 1970 World Cup, which was the first one hosted by Mexico. After his playing career, Padilla became a key director in Pumas and later on was chosen to lead and be the spokesperson for the Liga MX referee association. Padilla, whose nickname was “El Gansito”, was a legend in Mexican football which was confirmed when he was chosen to enter Mexico’s Hall of Fame in Pachuca.
Born in Mexico City, Padilla came thru the youth teams in Pumas. He made the first team in 1962 and would be key in Pumas for a decade. He was good enough to be called up to the National team and in 1966, he was part of the squad that went to the World Cup in England. Later on he continued his high level of play and was a key part of the 1970 World Cup team that played the World Cup held in Mexico. Padilla continued in Pumas until 1972 when he left to go to Atlante. A year later he would go to Veracruz, before returning to Pumas and retiring in 1975.
In his post playing career, Padilla became a sports director with Pumas and was part of the incredible Pumas team that became the first “bicampeon” in the short season era when they won two consecutive titles in 2004 under Coach Hugo Sanchez. His good spell in Pumas was noted by the federation, and he was chosen to head the Referee Commission, a commission made after controversial decisions made by referees created a “crisis”. The move was made to strengthen them, and they chose Padilla because of his reputation as a fair and brilliant executive. Padilla would later retire, but his mark in Mexican football was set when he was enshrined in the Mexican Football Hall of Fame in Pachuca in 2018. Unfortunately Padilla suffered health woes including Alzheimer’s disease. He becomes the first notable person in Mexican football known to die because of the COVID-19 emergency. Padilla’s footprint in Mexican football, and especially with Pumas, will be forever present.