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José de la Paz Herrera Ucles is a famous Honduran footballer and coach. Best known as Chelato, he grew up in Soledad, Hondurasmarker, a small town of the municipality of El Paraísomarker in extreme poverty.

From Soledad, his family moved to Comayagüela, where he was introduced to soccer. He dedicated his life to soccer, choosing it over baseball in a time when baseball was very popular in Honduras.

Herrera’s nickname was given to him by friend, Danieri Flores to whom Chelato tried to nickname "Danilerato"; Flores responded with "Chelato", which has since stuck as his nickname.

National Soccer League

During José's career as technical director of National League teams, he made history with three different clubs. However he failed in his attempt at taking a couple of small teams to win the championship.

The first part of Chelato's history in National League begins in 1974 when he won his first title with Real España. With it, Chelato also delivered to the city of San Pedro Sulamarker their first championship ever, after defeating Club Deportivo Motagua of Tegucigalpamarker by the score of 1-0 in their final match.

He took : Club Deportivo Olimpia, to win the championship title in 1992. Later, he added two more championships with Oliimpia, in 1996-1997 and 2003-2004.

By 2001, "Chelato" took charge of Club Deportivo Marathón. At the moment of his arrival he declared that “It would be pretty to leave (of CD Marathón) being a champion.” Those were very optimistic words for team that at that moment was going through a very difficult stretch; fighting to not being relegated to second division. Nevertheless at the end of the season, "Chelato" kept his word, and the team became the new champs of the Honduran National Soccer League.

In spite of all the triumphs obtained with big teams, Chelato never could carry a small team to win a championship title. In 1983 he left Club Universidad at the doorstep of the title. And later, in the nineties the disappointment was for Club Deportivo Platense.

Herrera is also known for a wild experiment that was never seen before in the history of Honduran soccer. He disguised a team (Broncos of Choluteca), as the Honduran national team and played a full tournament. At the end; the whole experience was as positive for him as it was for the players.

Clearly, Herrera had a lot of success in the Honduran national league. His extensive participation as coach, took him to win a total of 5 championships and to have a fighting chance in six tournaments. His record is only surpassed by the “old fox” of the Honduran National Soccer League, Carlos Padilla Velasquez.

Spain 1982

In 1981 Herrera became the only Honduran coach to carry Honduras to the World Cup. For that task, Chelato and his players had to overcome two different phases in the qualifying rounds. The preliminary phase was long and grueling. The second and last was relatively easy; once in the world cup, Honduras had an acceptable tournament.

For the pre World Cup tournaments Chelato used as his base; the players from Real C.D. España, and the members from the 1977 Youth World Cup played in Tunisia. Among them were: Jaime Villegas, Anthony Costly, and Julio Cesar Arzu among many others.

In the pre- qualifying round Honduras faced: El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica in round trip games; being the match against the 'Guatemala,' the key game that gave the Hondurans the classification to the final round. This game was won by the scoreboard of 1-0, with goal of Jimmy Bailey and a stupendous participation of the goalkeeper: Jimmy Steward.

At the end of the tournament, Honduras netted 15 goals and received 5. Drew games against: Costa Rica, and Guatemala, lost against to the Salvadoran national team and won the remaining encounters. Once the preliminary phase was finished, Honduras received the home field advantage of the Final Round. This event took place at stadium Nacional de Tegucigalpamarker.

In this tournament Honduras had as its rivals the following teams: Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, Cuba and Canada. In the inaugural match against Haiti, Honduras won by the score of 4-0, then beat the Cubans for 2-0, as well as the Canadians for 2-1. Honduras assured its classification to the World Cup with a tie (0-0) to El Salvador. In the final match, Honduras tied against Mexico 0-0. This signified the elimination of the Mexicans from the 1982 FIFA World Cup, and the Salvadorans would accompany Honduras to Spain.

For the world cup, Chelato included in the staff to two important players that did not participate in the final qualifying round: Gilberto Yearwood who at the time was playing in Spainmarker, and high-scoring player: Porfirio Betancourt in substitution of Jimmy James Bailey who suffered a severe injure.

After the disastrous fall of the Salvadoran national team in their presentation before Hungary for 1-10, many experts doubted the capacity of the other representative of CONCACAF (The Honduran National Team). But this did not it last long, because in June 16 in its first game, played at stadium Luís Casanova of Valenciamarker; Honduras showed great soccer skills against Spain.

From the very beginning the Chelato Boys put the host country up against the wall. - A goal by Hector Zelaya in the first half, forced the Spanish team to be in the attack. In the end; the tied was achieved by the Spaniards through a penalty kick; charged by the Argentine referee Arturo Andrés Iturralde against the Hondurans. The match ended up in a tie (1-1).

In June 21 the Hondurans played its second match at stadium The Romareda of Zaragozamarker, against Northern Irelandmarker. After being down in the scoreboard for a while, Chelato Uclès sent substitute player Tony Laing to the field, at a moment when a corner kick was going to be forwarded. Laing came in; and just headed the ball into the net, to establish the tie and final score against the Irish Team.

In spite of the good presentation of Chelato’s team in the first two matches, this he was later affected in the final game against the Yugoslavs. A doubtful penalty kick marked by the Chilean referee Gastón Edmundo, against the Hondurans; determined the scoreboard in favor of Yugoslavia (0-1). This marked the elimination of Honduras from the tournament. Despite of what happened in the last game, the Honduran people recognized the good work of Chelato Uclès and his team.

After the Spanish experience, the efforts of Chelato Uclés, for returning to a world Cup with the Honduran national team ended up in failures. The first one of these; was for Mexico 1986; where Chelato’s team was eliminated by Canadian national team. The following elimination of Honduras with Chelato in command was in the qualifying rounds of Italy 1990. In that opportunity, was Trinidad and Tobago who knocked the Hondurans out. The last elimination of Honduras with Chelato as coach was in the qualifiers for Germany 2006.

Germany 2006

The process of Germanymarker 2006 had the direct and indirect participation, of Jose of La Paz Herrera. Most of which was to a large extent negative, for the interests of the Honduran soccer.

The process started when, the sports press put pressure on the president of the Honduran soccer federation; Rafael Leonardo Callejas to hire Chelato, because he was considered to be a “good and cheap coach.” In the end Callejas caved in.

The first test for Chelato in this new process was Copa UNCAF of Panama in 2003. This was also a qualifier tournament for the 2003 Gold Cup. But Ucles’ new process with the national team didn’t start well, Honduras lost 3 out of 5 matches in the tournament, finishing fourth. This forced the team to a play off games against Trinidad & Tobago and Martinique. The team was supposed to win these two matches, if it were to participate in the upcoming Gold Cup.

After this setback, Chelato was criticized harshly by the Honduran press, reason why on February 22, he said "from the beginning everything was lost". Because the players never did what he commanded them to do. Later on, Chelato said that he was ready to leave his post as the Honduran national team coach, if the federation asked him to do so.

The declarations of Chelato did not resonate well with anybody in Honduras, because through his own words; he was admitting that he'd lost control of the players in Panama. Later, other allegations were discovered by the media during the Panamanian tournament: The negative influence of Carlos Pavon and other experienced players on the team, the trips to the malls, and even sexual relationships of players with prostitutes.

Chelato versus Bora

When the national team returned to Honduras from Panama, the directory of the soccer federation under Callejas’ control once again was pressed by a sector of the media, to force Chelato out. Callejas did so, and replaced him with interim Coach: Edwin Pavón.

Pavon took control of the national team and qualified it, to the Gold Cup, by getting positive results against Trinidad and Tobago and Martinique. After the participation of Pavón in the Mexicomarker’s Gold Cup, the directory of the Federation named Bora Milutinovic as the new Honduran coach.

The election of Milutinovic caused a tremendous malaise, among Chelato’s followers and the coach himself. Both, (Chelato and the sports press) would then be allies; in open opposition against the Serbian coach. They used all kind of tactics to make Milutinovic’s job difficult. But Milutinovic qualified Honduras to the next round nonetheless. However he did not resist the subsequent personal attacks, and literally left the country through the "back door." No one in Honduras noticed, until he was already, in his residence in Mexico.

When Milutinovic was contacted in his residence by Rafael Leonardo Callejas; he recommended Raul Martinez Sambulá and Juan Carlos Espinoza, to take over the Honduran national team. With these two coaches in command, Honduras started the elimination round relatively well. They beat Costa Rica at home by score of 5-2. But the results after that first win were negative for the new coaches.

Chelato returns

After the defeat suffered by Honduras at the hands of Guatemala (0-1): The sport press, the federation, and soccer fans panicked, they saw another failure on the horizon. Chelato Ucles returned. Rafael Leonardo Callejas offered him the coaching position once more, and Chelato accepted.

He was asked if the situation could be reverted with the national team facing elimination against Costa Rica. To what Chelato responded "In 33 days much can be done." And that "Is not impossible to win against to Costa Rica.” He also added' that if he qualified Honduras to the next round, he would be elected president.

After having accepted the coaching position, Chelato prepared the team in Miamimarker. He made a series of line up changes, and played a preparation game against Haitimarker, then headed for San Pedro Sula to face the ‘Ticos.’--In the end; things did not go well for Chelato Ucles and his team. They were eliminated by Costa Rica in the final match. The press blamed Chelato, for dismantling the team with only 33 days left for a crucial match. Chelato on the other hand, blamed the federation and Bora Milutinovic, and the federation blamed the press.

After the elimination of Honduras from Germany 2006; Chelato stayed in control of the Honduran national team. The country did not want to know nothing of soccer, after so many frustration the people retired from the stadiums. Chelato noticed that and quietly prepared the team for next tournament; (Copa UNCAF 2005).

For this competition Ucles called a mixture of young and experienced players like: Wilmer Velasquez, and Milton Núñez, as well as; Carlos Moran and Marvin Chávez among others. In this tournament Chelato did a lot better that in the previous one; taking Honduras to the championship game against Costa Ricamarker. He lost the final through penalty kicks, but qualified to the Gold Cup 2005 nonetheless.

In the 2005 Gold Cup played in the United States, Honduras beat teams like: Colombiamarker, Panama, and Costa Rica, arriving at semifinal instances. Nevertheless the Catrachos were defeated by the United States by score of 2-1, finishing in third place of the tournament. This was the last soccer competition for Chelato Uclès. Then he retired and dedicated himself to politics.

Chelato Congressman

After Chelato finished his adventure with the Honduran national soccer team; he traveled across the country for the purpose of getting people to vote for him because "There are many things that can be done for the poor people." He said.At the end of the elections in the 2005, he was the fourth most voted congressman in the general elections; getting more than 200,000 votes. All of which was achieved after running a very modest campaign, with a single ad on television.

In order to clear rumors, about possible outside help in the general elections, Chelato assured that he had not bought his seat in the National Congress of Hondurasmarker. That he obtained it by walking to the barrios and going to places where nobody else would dare to go.

Chelato the philosopher

For his football philosophy, he was called "The Honduran Menotti" (Referring to argentinian coach César Luis Menotti).

"Nunca se sabe""You never know"This quote has been a boom in Honduran society.

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