His goal against the host in the 1982 World Cup made him a legend of Honduran football. Héctor Zelaya, known as 'Pecho de Águila' (Eagle Chest) because of the way he walks, led Honduras to its greatest achievement in a World Cup. Now, all eyes are on Maynor Figueroa, but fans of the Central American team will never forget Honduras’ greatest achievement.
His national team's campaign
In 1982, Honduras reached their first FIFA World Cup, which was held in Spain, at the expense of a Hugo Sánchez led Mexican team. Their opener was against a Spain who was everybody’s favourite to win the competition. Against all expectations, a thoroughly prepared Honduran side produced a one-all draw against the Spaniards.
The achievement went down in the history of the national team. Zelaya’s side also managed a draw against Northern Ireland (1-1), but their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Yugoslavia left them with just two points in the first round, preventing them from progressing to the next stage.
His World Cup record
Having started all three matches, Zelaya produced a draw against Spain that was one of the talking points of the tournament. Honduras came flying out of the blocks and in the seventh minute, after a one-two with Porfirio Betancourt, the defender from Santa Bárbara managed to beat Luis Arconada, stunning the crowd in the Luis Casanova (now the Mestalla) into silence. The Honduran player had scored his country’s first World Cup goal.
A turning point
After his participation in the World Cup, he arrived in Galicia to form part of RC Deportivo de La Coruña, but an injury that had hampered him for the previous two years prevented him from making a splash in Spanish football. Therefore, Héctor Zelaya decided to return to his country and announced his retirement at the ripe age of 24.