It is well known that goal keeper is the most difficult position in soccer and as Eduardo Galeano said “with a single blunder, the goalkeeper ruins a game or loses a championship, and then the public suddenly forgets all his feats”.
Nobody knew that better than the great Pablo Larios Iwasaki. The native of Zacatepec, Morelos, Mexico was born on July 31, 1960 and came to revolutionize the position with stops that were considered risky but also dazzled using his deft footwork.
His extraordinary skills made him among the best of his era, and that was on full display as the goalkeeper for the Mexican National team at the 1986 World Cup when they reached the quarter-finals, the furthest Mexico has gone in any World Cup. Jorge Campos, legendary Mexican goal keeper has mentioned Larios Iwasaki in multiple interviews as providing the example he followed in developing his own style as a player.
Larios’ achievements include a championship with Club Puebla in the 1989-90 season, and helping his team reach multiple finals with Cruz Azul (1986-87 and 1988-89) as well as with the former Toros Neza team (now Neza FC).
Nicknamed “The goalkeeper of the jungle“, Larios Iwasaki, had Japanese ancestry from his grandparents who came to set up restaurants in Zacatepec, as part of the second wave of Japanese immigrants to Mexico.
His legacy, as an icon for goalkeepers in Mexican soccer, as a sports car aficionado who owned 60 cars at the peak of his career, and as a warrior who managed to overcome his cocaine addiction after his retirement, will live on. For this reason, Pablo Larios Iwasaki is one of our marquee Asian-Latino athletes during Asian American and Pacific Islander Month: Herencia.
Larios passed away too soon on January 31, 2019 in the City of Puebla, Mexico, due to intestinal failure at the age of 58. He was inducted into the International Soccer Hall of Fame in 2020 in Pachuca, Mexico.