Top Facts about Ubaldo Fillol, the Argentine Legendary Goalkeeper

Wed 20 October 2021 | 8:30

Ubaldo Fillol was probably the best Argentine goalkeeper in the football history of this country. In this post, we are going to have a look at top facts about Ubaldo Fillol.

Ubaldo Matildo Fillol was born on 21 July 1950. Ubaldo Fillol is nicknamed el Pato (in English it means "the Duck") and he is an Argentine football coach and former goalkeeper.

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that he played in the 1974, 1978  and 1982 FIFA World Cups representing the Argentine national team. He won the 1978 FIFA World Cup with his team and was voted Best Goalkeeper in that tournament.

Ubaldo Fillol also played in the South American qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup, but finally he was not chosen for the final squad that played and won the FIFA World Cup in Mexico. He is commonly considered to be one of the greatest goalkeepers and usually regarded as the best Argentine goalkeeper ever in the history of Argentina.

Top Facts about Ubaldo Fillol, the Argentine Legendary Goalkeeper

Born on in San Miguel del Monte outside Buenos Aires of Argentina, Ubaldo Matildo Fillol, also known as "El Pato", is possibly the greatest goalkeeper from Argentina. Moreover, many professionals had him on the South American dream team of the century.

Ubaldo Fillol began his profession in 1969 playing for Quilmes Athletic Club. He was transferred to

Racing Club

in 1972, that season he could save six penalty kicks, forming a record for the Argentinian league.

In 1973, Ubaldo Fillol joined

River Plate

, where he played during 11 years, winning a number of Argentinian league championships, becoming one of the most popular players in the history of the club.

Ubaldo Fillol retired from Argentina's national team in 1985 after 58 caps and he is still the goalkeeper with most appearances for Argentina national team in history.

Ubaldo Fillol was transferred from River Plate to the Spanish team

Atlético Madrid

, and after a season at the Brazilian club Flamengo, he came back to Argentina, but this time he played for Argentinos Juniors as the goalkeeper.

Ubaldo Fillol moved to Racing Club to win the first Supercup in 1988 and finally ended his career as a football player in 1990 when he was playing for Vélez Sársfield club.

Ubaldo Fillol at a glance

  • Name in home country:

    Ubaldo Matildo Fillol

  • Date of birth:

    21 July 1950

  • Place of birth:

    San Miguel del Monte, Argentina

  • Age:


  • Height:

    1,81 m

  • Citizenship:


  • Position:


  • Foot:


  • Current status:


  • Retired:

    1 July 1991

Ubaldo Fillol club career

Ubaldo Fillol was born in San Miguel del Monte in Argentina. He started his career as goalkeeper in an amateur club of the city, where he played four years. Former River Plate football player and manager Renato Cesarini would be his coach, after seeing Ubaldo Fillol play at the regional league.

In 1965 Ubaldo Fillol moved to Quilmes A.C. to play at club's youth team. At the age of 18, he debuted in Primera División playing for Quilmes against. Huracán, on 1 May 1969. He soon drew public attraction due to his swiftness and quick reflexes that let him to make acrobatic saves.

One of the

top facts about Ubaldo Fillol

is that in the 1970 Metropolitano championship he saved the first penalty shoot in his professional career. In the same year Quilmes was relegated to Primera B, where Ubaldo Fillol played 23 games with the team.

In 1972 Ubaldo Fillol joined Racing Club de Avellaneda, playing his first game in the 1972 Metropolitano. In that championship, Ubaldo Fillol set a record of saving 6 penalty shots, which is the highest in Argentine football in a single season.

In 1973 Fillol moved to River Plate, where he played most part of his professional career. In River Plate, Ubaldo Fillol won seven trophies, including the 1975 Metropolitano tournament that meant the first championship for the team after 18 years with no title.

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that in 1977 he was awarded the footballer of the Year of Argentina, being the first goalkeeper ever to receive the award.

In 1983, after a struggle with the River Plate directors (during which he wanted to retire from the activity) Ubaldo Fillol was transferred to Argentinos Juniors by request of Ángel Labruna, who was managing Argentinos Junior at the time.

Ubaldo Fillol played 17 games in the team. In November 1983, he moved to Brazil to play in 


, where he won the Taça Guanabara with the team in 1984.

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that hisfirst appearance in European football was in 1985 when he was transferred to Atlético Madrid at the age of 35. With Ubaldo Fillol as the goalkeeper, the team lifted the Supercopa de España in 1985.

In 1986 Ubaldo Fillol returned to Racing, where he lifted the first edition of the Supercopa Sudamericana in 1988, which was the first international trophy for the team after the 1967 Intercontinental Cup

Ubaldo Fillol international career

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that he played for


in three consecutive FIFA World Cups. Ubaldo Fillol was called up for the Argentina national team, where he was part of the squad at the 1974 World Cup.

In 1974 World Cup, Daniel Carnevali was the first goalkeeper of the team, but after a poor second stage where the Argentinians were beaten by the Netherlands and Brazil, Ubaldo Fillol replaced Carnevali in the game against East Germany and the final result was a 1-1 draw and Argentina was eliminated in the group stage.

Ubaldo Fillol's best performance with Argentina was in 1978 FIFA World Cup, when Argentina won the first World Cup with the team. He was chosen as the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

The 1978 FIFA World Cup was Ubaldo Fillol's best World Cup. He proved to be a key player against Poland, saving a penalty kick by Kazimierz Deyna, and assisting Argentina national team to win the first FIFA World Cup with an excellent performance in the final match against the Netherlands.  One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that he was voted the best goalkeeper of the 1978 World Cup.

Four years later, in 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, Argentina were defeated by Italy and Brazil in the second group stage and was unable to reach the semi-final match.

Ubaldo Fillol retirement

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that he retired from football ending his professional career in Vélez Sarsfield at the age of 40. Ubaldo Fillol’s last game was in the last fixture of the 1990 Apertura championship, on 22 December 1990 at Estadio Monumental, with the visitor team beating local River Plate by 2–1. Ubaldo Fillol made an exceptional performance. He saved a penalty kick of Rubén da Silva.

Ubaldo Fillol also held the record of saving 26 penalty kicks, which is the highest in Argentine football, sharing this record with Hugo Gatti.

After his retirement, Ubaldo Fillol served as goalkeeping coach in the Argentine national team, before being Racing Club manager in 2003. After a short term as Racing manager, he returned to his career as goalkeeping coach for Argentina, working at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. However, Ubaldo Fillol left his job when José Pekerman resigned as Argentina coach.

Ubaldo Fillol continued his job coaching goalkeepers in River Plate, but he resigned after a match against San Lorenzo when Juan Pablo Carrizo declined to admit his gesture of support after a mistake that allowed the opponent team to net a goal. Fillol alleged he felt "humiliated" by Carrizo and showed his aspiration to continue his career in the team but only working with youth players, as he had done before. 

Finally, Ubaldo Fillol returned to River Plate in 2014 and served as director of team's goalkeepers part.

Ubaldo Fillol main rival

When Ubaldo Fillol played in River Plate, he was the counterpart of Hugo Orlando Gatti, another excellent Argentine goalkeeper who played in the rival club, Boca Juniors. Ubaldo Fillol was always an example of professionalism and seriousness while Hugo Orlando Gatti on the other hand, looked strange, unconventional.

Ubaldo Fillol shirt number

Today, it is very strange for football fans to know that some goalkeepers used to wear shirt numbers other than number 1. One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that at the 1978 FIFA World Cup, Ubaldo Fillol wore the number 5, instead of 1 which was normal for goalkeepers.

It was due to the fact that Argentina, at that time, gave players their numbers alphabetically. The number 1 was worn by attacking midfielder Norberto Alonso. For the same reason, Ubaldo Fillol wore the shirt number 7 at the 1982 tournament while Osvaldo Ardiles, another Argentine midfielder, wore the number 1. This practice was allowable in 1986 for the last time, when FIFA declared that the shirt number 1 must only be worn by goalkeepers.

Ubaldo Fillol Award

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that there is an award with his name. The Ubaldo Fillol Award was a football award that was given to the goalkeeper with the least goals-to-games ratio of each competition of the Argentine Primera División.

The award was created by Argentine Ubaldo Fillol in 2008, and was named after him. Since the 2009 Clausura competition, the Argentine Football Association accepted the award as an official award.

To win the award, a goalkeeper had to play at least 14 matches in the competition. Only games in which the goalkeeper played at least 60 minutes were accounted. The result found from dividing the total goals conceded by the total matches played by the goalkeeper determined the standings, with the best average winning the award.

If more than one goalkeeper shared the lowest average, the winner was the one who had played more matches. In case it did not work, the winner would be decided via an online opinion poll in Ubaldo Fillol's official website.

Ubaldo Fillol and Covid-19

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that he and his wife were at the hospital after contracting coronavirus.

'El Pato' tested positive for the virus in August 2021 and had been isolating in his home in San Miguel del Monte, 100 kilometres south of Buenos Aires.

"For those who ask about my state of health, I tell you that this afternoon I am being admitted to clinic in the capital to be a little more controlled," he said on his Twitter account.

"It was not going well and as a precaution this decision was made. Thank you all for the concern and the good vibes. Take care," added Ubaldo Fillol.

After a while both Ubaldo Fillol and his wife were hospitalise and after recovery they left there.

Ubaldo Fillol death threats

One of the top facts about Ubaldo Fillol is that the former goalkeeper filed a complaint in court “for death threats” from a person who was already identified and who had been irritating him, through messages on his cell phone in August 2020, “without stopping.”

Ubaldo Fillol said that his lawyer “is already taking this whole issue forward to take care of my family.”

“Since Friday I have been receiving non-stop death threats to my cell phone number, and to take care of my family and myself I made the corresponding complaint,” explained Ubaldo Fillol.

On his Twitter he said:

For a few days I have received death threats on my cell phone. For my safety and that of my family, I made the complaint on the advice of my lawyer @gregoriodalbon.

"The person is individualized and the prosecution is investigating.

Thank you all for your expressions of affection.

Embrace of the soul.

“Gregorio Dalbón, my lawyer, is taking this whole issue forward. Fortunately, the person who made the threats to me has already been identified and the prosecution took action to get to the bottom of all this,” Fillol said in interview with Télam.

And finally he said: “I want to thank all the affection that people give me at this time.”

Ubaldo Fillol meeting with relatives of the disappeared

In 1976, two years before the 1978 World Cup, a coup d'état overthrew Isabel Perón as President of Argentina on 24 March. A military junta was installed to replace her; this was headed by Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla, The new government established a brutal dictatorship which brutally arrested, tortured, or disappeared people.  

The World Cup was held during the dictatorship and the government tried to abuse the Argentina Championship to cover their atrocities.

In 2018, 40 years after the 1978 World Cup, at the River Plate Stadium, Ubaldo Fillol met with Angela "Lita" Paolín de Boitano, mother of two detained-disappeared children, and Graciela Palacio de Lois, who suffered the forced disappearance of her husband during the last dictatorship.

Ubaldo Fillol said, "We were 25 million Argentines celebrating. And we, the players, were celebrating too. Then, when the time passed and democracy arrived, we began to know everything that had happened. I started to feel ashamed. I am very embarrassed because I realize that this huge feat was used, the glory of becoming world champion was used to continue kidnapping, torturing and killing people. I am ashamed to say that I was happy because I was world champion”.

"We can only ask for forgiveness" says “Ubaldo Fillol”. "To the Mothers, to the Grandmothers, to all the relatives of the disappeared. I think we are still on time. We still have time to redeem ourselves. We become aware of what happened, of the joy of triumph and of the sadness of knowing our compatriots have died in that way.

There is a Leon Gieco song called 'La memoria' and it says a phrase that was burned into my memory. He says: 'When football ate everything'. And that was what happened. Those thirty days that the World Cup lasted... And we believed that we were defending the country”.

Graciela Lois says, “I remember that my old man did not miss a match and I did not even look at them because the only thing I thought about was the disappearance of my husband. My two-year-old daughter, would stand in front of the screen and say 'Mario Kempes'.

You lived with the sadness of knowing that with the 1978World Cup they were covering a lot of things. Unfortunately at that moment our voice wasn´t heard. My husband was kidnapped and taken to the ESMA, from where you could hear the people shouting the goals at the River Plate Stadium”.

Ubaldo Fillol tells Lita and Graciela about the truth of that Argentine team. That his wife was pregnant with Nadia, who is now 40 years old, and that they had little communication during the tournament. Ubaldo Fillol tells that in the country villa of José C. Paz, where the national team held the pre-match meetings, there was only one telephone –"one of those big blacks ones"– and when the relatives’ visits were acceptable, from time to time, they had an extreme security operation.

"My wife came from Quilmes to José C. Paz. Maybe some Saturday or Sunday they could visit us. We had ugly discussions with the custodians because they didn´t let the cars in, they made them park outside the villa. And they checked everything they carried with them. They told us it was because of 'terrorism'. That they wanted to take care of us, that they were afraid that they had put a bomb” says Ubaldo Fillol.

"The good thing is that we did not hate. Because hatred makes us bad” explains Lita. And with Ubaldo Fillol at his side he understands the different sensations of that moment: "What you say, Pato, is part of the memory, of truth and justice, which is what we seek. At that time you were struggling as professionals around the country, feeling pride. I spend crying the whole day of the final. And at the same time for us it was a tragedy.

Each one reacted as he could. We didn´t organize anything, each mother did what she could. Many of the prisoners tell us that they watched the matches in prisons and, in the middle of horror, they were also happy. I went out alone; I started walking down Santa Fe Street to Plaza San Martín in the middle of the people who were alive. I cried inside. I didn´t have the courage to say anything out loud”.

Like that day in 1979 when they called Pato´s father to tell him that if his son didn´t sign the renewal contract with River Plate both of them would disappear. Or when Carlos Alberto Lacoste himself threatened him with death.

“One day Lacoste called me and put a revolver on top of the table. He told me 'if I want to, I make you disappear and nobody no one will find out'. I was a kid and I didn´t understand a thing. With time you say 'Damn! I could have been killed'. At that moment it was beyond me. It was very painful. I kept it to myself for many years. And now I can say it. And why am I not going to say it? Why? Who will take me away the right to tell what happened to me?”

The most famous hug

After Argentina national team won their first World Cup by beating the Netherlands in 1978 Alberto Tarantini and Ubaldo Fillol hugged themselves, when an Argentine supporter ran onto the pitch to join them.

A quote about Ubaldo Fillol

Diego Maradona remembering Fillol's retirement on 22 December 2017said, “The best goalkeeper I've ever seen was Ubaldo Fillol”

Ubaldo Fillol honours

River Plate

  • Primera División 7 trophies:  Metropolitano in 1975, Nacional in 1975, Metropolitano in 1977, Metropolitano 1979,  Nacional 1979, Metropolitano in 1980 , Nacional in 1981


  • Taça Guanabara in 1984

  • Taça Rio in 1985

Atlético Madrid

  • Supercopa de España in 1985

Racing Club

  • Supercopa Sudamericana in 1988


  • FIFA World Cup in 1978


  • Footballer of the Year of Argentina in 1977

  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1978

  • Silver ball South American Player of the Year in 1978, 1983, 1984

  • AFA Team of All Time (published in 2015)


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