In 1964, Spain won his first European title, on home soil, after defeating SSSR, the active champion, in the final, with 2-1. The first goal was put in by Jesus Maria Pereda in the sixth minute. But the same midfielder also scored the opener of the tournament, in the semifinal against Hungary, match which Spain also won with 2-1 on 17th of June, even though after extra time. I’m sure that this name doesn’t sound very familiar, but it had a lot of great stories behind him. Born on 15th of June 1938 in the Basque Country, Pereda made his senior debut in La Liga under the shirt of Real Madrid in 1958, a team which was dominating European football by that time, after four consecutive European Champions’ Cup trophies won. He didn’t played but two games, but that was enough to help him score once, in a 3-0 win over Real Zaragoza. Loaned to Valladolid and then sold to Sevilla, in 1961 he joined FC Barcelona, team from which he wouldn’t leave until 1969. So, eight seasons in ‘blau-grana’ and despite the squad wasn’t the powerful one from our days, he manage to win here two Spanish Cups (1963 and 1968) and one Inter Cities Fairs Cup, the unofficial ancestor of the Europe League, in 1966.
In eight years he appeared for Barcelona in 293 official games and scored 107 goals but he wasn’t a main man for the national team all though he had massive contribution to the European title won in 1964. His debut came in 1960, in a friendly won with 3-0 against England. By then he was playing at Sevilla. Pereda did remain eight years in touch with the national side, but won only 15 caps and six goals, including those achieved in the summer of 1964. His best match for his country took place on 27th of October 1965 in a World Cup qualifier against Ireland, which Spain won at home, with 4-1 and three of the goals were the work of Jesus Maria, nicknamed ‘Chus’.
Pereda ended his career at 34 years, after two last seasons under the colors of Real Mallorca, a second tier team in that period. After retirement he started working as a youth coach for Catalonia national team and after 2 years, in 1976, he took over the ones from Spain and never let them go until 1992! He coached the U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and the U21 national teams from Spain! After a break of four seasons he chose to try also an experience of head coach of a club team. During the 1995-1996 campaign he led Xerez to a mediocre 11th spot in the third level. That was it. Unfortunately, Pereda died in 2011, because of cancer, at the age of 73.
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