Gustavo “El Halcon (The Falcon)” Peña, who captained Mexico’s 1970 World Cup team and scored the goal that gave Mexico’s first qualification to the knockout stages in a World Cup, passed away on January 19th. The Guadalajara player spent most of his career in Guadalajara’s extinct team Oro and with Cruz Azul. He went to two World Cup and was key in 1970. Peña was inducted to the Hall of Fame of Mexican football in 2019.
Gustavo Peña was born in Talpa de Allende, Jalisco. As a young child he moved with his family to Guadalajara. He came through the local team CD Oro. Oro was a team from Guadalajara who played in Liga MX. In 1962, Oro would win their only Liga MX title with Peña on the team. Peña became one of the top defenders in Mexico and rose to become captain of the National Team that went to the 1966 World Cup. Led by Peña, Mexico had a good World Cup although they would go out in the group stage, Mexico would get two ties and only go out because of a 2-0 loss against host and eventual World Champion, England. Peña would move to Cruz Azul where he would be part of the start of the most famous Cruz Azul team and win two Liga MX titles. With Peña still being captain, Mexico would host the 1970 World Cup. Mexico would have their best start to a World Cup by getting a scoreless tie in the World Cup opener against the Soviet Union. Later Mexico would crush El Salvador by a 4-0 score, which is still Mexico’s biggest win in a World Cup game. Mexico would play for their ticket to the next round against Belgium. With the score tied 0-0, Mexico got a penalty kick and Peña took it, scoring the game-winning goal. Mexico qualified for the first time to the Quarterfinals (there was no round of 16 as there were only 16 teams in the tournament) where they would fall against Italy. Peña would later move from Cruz Azul to Club Jalisco. Later he would go to Monterrey before retiring in Laguna in 1977. Peña’s career would be historic enough that he would be inducted to the Mexican football Hall of Fame in Pachuca in 2019 although because of problems with Alzheimer’s Disease, it was his son who represented him.
Peña was an historic with the Mexican National team. The captain of the first team to make it out of the group stages after 40 years of participation, his penalty kick goal was one of the most important goals in Mexico history. Peña represented Mexican football proudly. May he rest in peace.