Sanon, Manno



Sanon, Manno, footballer. Born into a poor Port-au-Prince family in 1951, Sanon made his name as a striker with the Don Bosco club of Petionville. In 1973 the Haitian Football Federation, with the backing of the dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, successfully lobbied for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament to be staged in Port-au-Prince. The favourites, Mexico and Trinidad, were eclipsed by the young Haitian team, and Sanon’s goals propelled his team to the top of the group. Haiti became the first Caribbean team to qualify for the World Cup Finals.

The 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany were contested by just 16 teams. Haiti’s first game, against the 1970 runners up, Italy, took place in Munich in front of 65,000 spectators. 0-0 at half time, but within two minutes of the restart, Sanon claimed his place in World Cup history, and in the hearts of Haitian fans, by giving Haiti the lead against the legendary Italian goalkeeper, Dino Zoff. Hugh McIlvanney, of The Observer newspaper wrote “Emmanuel Sanon, a powerfully built and spiritedly aggressive forward from Port-au-Prince, did what some of the greatest players in the world had failed to do in Zoff’s 12 previous games for Italy.

The Haitian team lost the game, and their two others against Poland and Argentina, but Sanon had become a star. In four years he scored 47 of the 106 goals scored by the Haitian national team, and he went on to enjoy a successful career with Beershcoot of Antwerp, at that time a force in Belgian football. He has recently returned to live in Haiti, and is currently a trainer of the Haitian national team.

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