December 13, 1998 ended up becoming an event in the history of colo colo. That Sunday, at the Monumental stadium, the team led by Gustavo Benítez anxiously defeated Deportes Iquique and he got the twenty-second star of his record. That day was recorded in the collective memory by the endless run of Francisco Rojas to celebrate the winning goal against the Celestes, before a crowded Macul venue, as it will surely be this Sunday, in the match against Curicó Unido. It is necessary to make, yes, a caveat: in those days, the white redoubt could receive almost 20 thousand more people than today. 60 thousand throats were torn in the celebration. The permanent struggle to guarantee security has been shrinking the Chilean stadiums.
However, beyond the significance of those memories and those images, which crowned the management of the solid team that the Paraguayan had managed to put together, which a year earlier had reached the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores, in which they fell to the champion, Cruzeiro, and that managed to add a crown that in Macul they count as three-time champion, ignoring the Apertura that UC added in 1997 and putting the annual table before it for that purpose, what is concrete is that the achievement acquired value much later. Specifically, 24 years later. It is the record that another Gustavo, Quinteros, can break this afternoon, to enroll twice in the golden history of the popular club. If the Cacique defeats the Maulino team, he will be crowned champion of a long tournament after 24 years.
Almost a quarter of a century has passed and it seems that everything has been told, but every so often there are new antecedents of a campaign that for the albos became an object of worship. The Murci, author of that unforgettable conquest, recently confessed that in the crazy celebration, in which his teammates, part of the coaching staff and a couple of peeking out fell on him in the form of a ‘little pile’, he had to ask for help so as not to leave to breathe “I was out of breath. I almost died, ”said the Serenense.
As the hero of the day in that happy, but distressing situation, Colo Colo arrived gasping for air on that decisive day. A day before, at the National Stadium, but acting as a visitor, Universidad de Chile had beaten Audax Italiano 2-3. Albos and Azules fought hand in hand for the title. In fact, Saturday’s student victory, which had materialized thanks to Leonardo Rodríguez’s brace and Flavio Maestri’s goal, had allowed them to overtake the whites by two points. It was for this reason that Jaime Lopresti’s goal, at 67 ‘of the match that was played the next day in Macul, paled more than some white fan. And that also explains the debauchery after Rojas’ conquest, when statistics consecrated them by a solitary unit. As squalid as vital: 64 against 63.
“In the first round, we had taken a lot of points from the U, I don’t know if 10, 11 or 12. The second round started and they began to shrink us. We reach the last three or four one point above them. In those games, they always played before. They passed us by two and we had to win to be first again. At that time the last games were not played at the same time. We were able to win them all. One of them, in Concepción, when Barti took advantage of the rebound after Nico Córdova’s shot. The U squeezed us until the end. We could always win, until the last, with Pancho’s goal. We had been champions in 1996 and 97. Also in the 96 Chile Cup, with Gustavo. That’s where a cycle ended,” he recalls. Marcelo Spinaemblematic figure of the period.
“The U had already won. They were ready to celebrate. We were drawing. It was a tense match. It is clear with the celebration. Everything exploded in that second. If they had put a drone, it would have been clear that we were all running after Pancho to hug him. It was a terrible tension. I don’t know how many jumped on it. You try to cover the one below, because if you don’t, you’ll drown, you’ll die. Those of us who were defending went out behind him. We caught him near the bench. It was crazy,” he agrees. Marco Villaseca, headline that day.
In banking, restraint had also disappeared. “In a corner, with rebounds, a shot by Pancho Rojas passes between a lot of legs. It was delirium in a full Monumental. It was a great joy”, he recalls. Gualberto Jara, then Benítez’s assistant. “Winning a long tournament has more flavor, because it rewards the most regular of the year,” he values, in a consideration that will take effect at this time.
For the Guarani, today’s session also has special value. He was the predecessor of Quinteros, although in a much less happy moment, which almost ended in the Cacique’s first descent. “I think it was the worst part, with the club that was very bad, with problems at the board level, with the pandemic, with all the labor conflicts. We couldn’t train in the best way. All of this led to that dramatic situation of fighting for permanence. Fortunately, Colo Colo was saved.” He says.