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Juan Carlos Unzué: "We cannot allow a sick person to want to die because they feel it is an unbearable burden".

The former goalkeeper and coach took part in a meetingwith 400 graduates of the University where he spoke to them about ALS.

FotoManuelCastells/From left to right, Salma Basterra, student of ISSA School of Applied Management; Juan Carlos Unzué, former goalkeeper of C.A. Osasuna; and Moncho Aguinaga, president of the boardTerritorial Alumni Navarra.

03 | 05 | 2022

"We cannot allow a sick person to want to die because they feel it is an unbearable burden". This is what Juan Carlos Unzué, former goalkeeper of C.A. Osasuna, Barcelona and Sevilla, among others, said at the 'Alumni Meeting Navarra' at the University of Navarra. The meeting, jointly organised by Alumni University of Navarra, ISSA School of Applied Management and association Navarra de ELA (ANELA), was attended by more than 400 people. 

During the lecture, entitled 'A full life', he spoke to them about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), from which he was diagnosed in 2019 and which currently affects 4,000 people in Spain. 

The athlete explained that it is a degenerative disease that has a life expectancy of between three and five years, that has no cure and whose care (such as a respirator or a person to accompany you throughout the day when you are totally dependent) is not affordable for any family: "It is a very classist disease and it hurts me. Little by little we have been seeing movement, but it is very slow. That is why I ask politicians to speed up the solutions, because this disease does not wait".

According to Unzué, currently 80% of the investment in research comes from the private sector and only 20% comes from the public sector, financial aid. "I don't think I can benefit from a cure for this disease, but I am hopeful that, in the near future, with research, we will be able to slow down the progress of the disease.

"I'm the one who's going to throw the chupinazo, how cool, it gives me goosebumps".

The goalkeeper samplebravely faces the disease and stresses the importance of learning to live in the here and now. "I have many reasons to think that I have a full life. I feel useful, I have the motivation to keep going every day and I enjoy the journey. I don't waste a single minute. I feel strengthened and inspired.

For him, empathy, resilience and commitment are three values that sport has instilled in him and which have served him well over the last three years financial aid. He recalled that human beings have an enormous capacity to adapt and emphasised the word "accept" in order to be able to live with the bad cards that may come our way in the best possible way. Unzué also encouraged the audience to have the humility to transmit weakness when a blocking problem arises: "We all have someone we trust to tell who will surely help us to find the solution".

On 6 July he will launch the chupinazo that will mark the start of the Sanfermines in 2022. When asked if he was rehearsing, he replied sympathetically: "How do you train for it? You don't train for it, it's like penalties. In training you go there, you improve your technique, you have your shot, and you put it in the corner. Then comes the day of the match and the goalkeeper, instead of being a mere 1.80 metres tall, as I was, suddenly looks like he's two and a half metres tall and the goal is too small. I think that's what I will feel at that moment. I'm going to get excited. When I think about it I say, 'I'm the one who's going to throw the chupinazo, how cool'. I imagine it and I get goose bumps". Before concluding, the auditorium rose to its feet to bid him farewell and sing happy birthday to him on his 55th birthday on 22 April.


Video of the event