“Thank you for your support. I know that ALS is a disease without a cure. That’s why I’m going to give all my power for the research of that disease. There are 4000 ill people in Spain, and every day we lose 3 people. I’m not sad, and I’m not afraid of what’s coming. I’m approaching this challenge with huge strength”. In June 2020, former Barcelona player and assistant coach, Juan Carlos Unzue, announced that he was diagnosed with the ALS disease.
A year ago, Unzue already needed a wheelchair. But he kept his promise, and the smile is always on his head, while he contributes to research that disease.
Tonight, at the Camp nou, this charity match between Barcelona and Manchester City will be a special match. It’s not because these are two huge clubs. Furthermore, it’s not about Pep vs Xavi for the first time ever. And not even about Bernardo Silva maybe playing against his next club. This game is all about Juan Carlos Unzue and the fight against ALS.
Juan Carlos Unzue Labiano was born in April 22, 1967. The former goalkeeper played 318 La Liga matches during 17 seasons. He grew up in Osasuna, and moved to Barcelona in 1988, the first year of Johan Cruyff as a coach. Under Cruyff he was mainly a sub goalkeeper, playing only 5 matches in 2 year.
In 1990, Unzue moved to Sevilla, where he played more than 200 games. Afterwards, Juan Carlos Unzue moved to Tenerife, Oviedo and then back to Osasuna, where he finished his playing career in 2003.
Shortly after his retirement, Juan Carlos Unzue became the goalkeeping coach in Barcelona. He started coaching under Frank Rijkaard, and stayed in that position until 2010.
In 2010, Unzue decided to be a coach himself, but didn’t have great success as the coach of Numancia and Racing Santander.
It was then, in 2013, when he received the call of Luis Enrique, and became his assistant coach in Celta Vigo. Afterwards, Luis Enrique became the coach of FC Barcelona, and he brought Unzue with him. Luis and Unzue had a great relationship, and he stayed his coach until the Barcelona legend left the club in 2017.
Afterwards, Unzue decided to have another run as a headcoach, and he got the job at Celta Vigo. After finishing at the 13th position in La Liga, Unzue left Celta after 1 season.
1 year later, Unzue had another short run as the coach of Girona.
Diagnosed with ALS
On February 2020, Juan Carlos Unzue received the call that changed his life. He was diagnosed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Other names for this disease are ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’ and ‘Motor Neuron disease’. This neurodegenerative disease results in a progressive loss of the ability to control the muscles.
Early symptoms of ALS include stiff muscles and gradual increasing weakness in the muscles.
The condition of the body escalates pretty fast, as the ability to walk is one of the first abilities that the body loses.
The body functions gradually decrease until the ill person loses the ability to chew, eat, drink and eventually to breathe. Most deaths of ALS are caused from respiratory failure.
The main purpose of the game
There’s currently no cure for the ALS. Moreover, science can’t point on the actual cause for that horrible rare disease.
Sergi Roberto lost his mother to this disease, and it will be a special event for him as well.
All income from the game tonight will go for research and trying to find a cure for ALS.