Three Deaf Football Players who Shone Professionally


Deaf people have no physical handicaps in the practice of sport and, when the sense of hearing is important, they often take advantage of other skills. Perhaps this is why you can find so many extraordinary Deaf people's contributions to the world of sport on this website.

Here are the stories of three of the most important Deaf professional football players in history, their brilliant achievements and some anecdotes they have left us.

Damir Desnica: Professional Croatian Football Player

Damir Desnica was a professional football player at the Croatian club HNK Rijeka. He won the Yugoslavian Cup twice, played for nine seasons in the left-wing position, with 229 matches and 45 goals. He is a Deaf person who communicates with Sign Language and, curiously, this was the circumstance through which he went down in history.

El futbolista sordo yugoslavo Damir Desnica en 2016
Damir Desnica today (photo: Nel Pavletić / Pixsell)

In 1984 this small Croatian football club played the second round of the UEFA Europe League Final against Real Madrid, a match in which Damir was allegedly sent off for protesting the referee. However, years later he argued that precisely because of his speech difficulties, he could not have protested.

Expulsión del jugador sordo Damir Desnika durante el partido contra el Real Madrid en 1984
Expulsion of Damir Desnica against Real Madrid (photo: Diario Marca)

In the following video you can see the complete match Rijeka - Real Madrid, playing Desnica with the number 11 and with the result 3 to 1:

Carlos de Marta: Argentinian First League Football Player

Carlos Alberto de Marta was another football player who died in April 2015 at the age of 65. He was also Deaf and played for Estudiantes in the Argentinean First League of football, as well as other teams. But his most memorable anecdote is a red card the referee gave him during a 1972 match.

Jugador sordo argentino Carlos Alberto de la Mata
Carlos Alberto de Marta (photo: Blanco sobre Negro)

When the referee blew a penalty, there was a tumult due to the protests of the players, resulting in Carlos de Marta being punished with the red card. When the match was over and the referee sent the minutes to the Argentine Football Association, he said that Carlos had been expelled for insulting the referee. The Disciplinary Tribunal considered that it was impossible because Carlos was "deaf-mute". 

He is also remembered for another anecdote in 1975, when playing for the Temperley he opened the scoring with a goal in the 22nd minute. Carlos ran all the field to a TV journalist, stole his microphone and shouted: 'Mama... Goal!'. The big surprise was to believe him mute, one of the great myths about deaf people.

In Spain: Óscar Rodríguez, Racing Santander Player

The top scorer in the history of the Racing de Santander football club is Deaf: Óscar Rodríguez López (1904-1976). He started playing for Racing at the age of 16, played for 16 seasons with the club and participated in the first National League Championship in 1929. In total, he scored 235 goals.

Futbolista sordo del Racing Óscar Rodríguez López
Óscar Rodríguez López (photo: El Diario Montañés)

Oscar was called by the Spanish national football team twice, in 1925 and 1927. Among his anecdotes is that he fell in love with his wife by dedicating a goal to her in a game in 1925, with whom he married a few months later. The epitaph on his tomb still reads: 'Here lies, eternally in love, the greatest goalscorer of Real Racing Club'.


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