Juan Reynoso and the day he was going to die on a cursed flight, but an injury saved him

Juan Reynoso and the day he was going to die on a cursed flight, but an injury saved him

Juan Reynoso celebrates the Clausura 2021 title with Cruz Azul. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

The tragedy could not be sized. The plane of Alianza Lima, Peru’s most popular team, had fallen into the Pacific Ocean. The accounts: 16 dead players, as well as six members of the technical staff and 21 passengers. The team managed by Marcos Calderón had just beaten Deportivo Pucallpa 1-0. In the ranks of this team, a 17-year-old boy who could play defense and midfield began to appear. But for the trip to Pucallpa he was unavailable due to injury. His name was Juan Maximo Reynoso.

The Alliance prospect must have gotten on that plane. However, with four other companions he remained in Lima: César Esquino, who had been expelled; Benjamín Rodríguez, Juan Illescas and Arturo Guadalupe, who were excluded by the coach for this match. Reynoso had been taken out of the plane by an injury. On December 8, 1987, the Fokker F-27 fell into the Ventanilla Sea, very close to your destination, Jorge Chavez airport.

According to the sole survivor, Edilbert Villar, pilot of this plane, all the crew members did not die after the impact: some survived a few hours at sea, but they did not resist and lost their lives. Journalistic investigations in 2006 revealed that the plane had flaws that prevented it from operating properly and that, moreover, Villar did not have the necessary training to fly at night. Colo-Colo, a Chilean team, loaned several players in solidarity with Alianza. Teofilo Cubillas, icon of Peruvian football, had to come out of retirement to put on his jersey and help his team. He was accompanied by his colleagues César Cueto and José Velázquez.

Reynoso and forced maturity

The normal regrets of having missed an important trip turned into a feeling of contradiction for Reynoso: the relief of having saved his life, but the infinite sadness of losing 16 companions. Obligation flooded his world from then on. If his growth was going to be normal, the treacherous blow of fate made him an obligatory reference: The Peruvian national team requested his services when he was only 18 years old. The promising defender won two regional titles with Alianza before having a brief experience in Spain with the Sabadell in 1990. He returned home and later signed with Universitario, Alianza’s eternal rival, in a move that shocked Alianza fans.

This journey did not last long, because in 1994 he embarked on his journey through Mexico, which would ultimately last ten years. Thus, Reynoso fulfilled his destiny at Cruz Azul. He was champion, as a player, of the winter of 97. This mythical achievement of the machineone in Guanajuato could not be imagined without the bravery and efficiency of its captain. Juan Máximo not only fulfilled his defensive tasks —which was already plausible—. He passed on to all his colleagues this natural leadership that does not arise by chance. Reynoso saw the worst face of the game in his early days and understood that patience must be cultivated to find glory later in the peak days.

Reynoso during his time with the Perú national team.  AFP PHOTO/Jaime RAZURI

Reynoso during his time with the Peru team. AFP PHOTO/Jaime RAZURI

That’s why the circle has come full circle almost 22 years later. Previously, Reynoso had been certified as a miracle trainer in Colonel Bolognesi and Melgar, the teams of his country which he brought forth champions. But one more curse gnawed at his head and that of all the cement workers. Malaria was already as tragic as comic: Cruz Azul, the eternal vice-champion. No one could believe it when it happened. The machine beat Santos Laguna and lifted ninth. The bad luck is over. Farewell to all teasing. The architect could not be another: Juan Máximo Reynoso, the iron captain.

Today, the exorcist has embarked on the most complex mission of his career: leading the national team of his country. The bar was set high: Gareca became a national idol after securing the ticket to Russia 2018. Reynoso will have to pursue the dreams they forged in the age of Tiger. His first rival could not be other: Mexico, the country where he crystallized the dreams that fate allowed him after saving his life by chance.

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