JOHANNESBURG // Most fathers would be content to have one son representing their country at the World Cup. Eulogio Palacios, the proud Honduran dad, has three. His clan was already known as Honduras's most successful football dynasty but last week they became the first to have a trio of siblings in a World Cup squad when Reinaldo Rueda, the coach, called up a third member of the family.
Jerry Palacios has joined younger brothers Wilson and Jhony in South Africa, where the Central American underdogs are competing at the finals for the first time since 1982 after scraping through the qualifiers. "It's an extraordinary thing for this family," Eulogio, 63, said in a telephone interview from La Ceiba, the family's home city on Honduras's palm-fringed Caribbean coast. "Now they have to do something extraordinary for the country," added Eulogio, an ex-player who still trains local youngsters.
"Me and my brothers played professional football and the one who didn't play was a professional referee," he said. "In our family, it's something natural." Jerry's last-minute inclusion in the 23-man squad because of an injury to Julio Cesar de Leon is especially poignant for the family because it comes a little over a year after the body of kidnapped younger brother Edwin was discovered. Wilson, the best-known of the brothers due to his success at Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier League club, came close to quitting football but in the end sought refuge in the game.
Eulogio said his sons would think of Edwin more than ever at the tournament, saying: "They know he is watching over them." Honduras are among the outsiders in South Africa and their last-gasp qualification this time around lightened the mood in the impoverished nation at the height of a deep political crisis last year. The Catrachos lost their Group H opener 1-0 to Chile, but Eulogio is optimistic ahead of tonight's game against Spain, the European champions.
"We're going to get a draw," Eulogio said, adding he had been giving his sons advice over the telephone. "The three of them are staying together so we started chatting and I was giving them tips on how to behave, telling them to make sure they do things right because the whole world and the whole of Honduras is watching," he said. "I feel like the proudest father on earth." * Reuters