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New York Cosmos


January 9, 2017
Ex-Cosmos great Cabanas dies at 55

Roberto Cabanas scored 83 goals, the second most in Cosmos history.
Roberto Cabanas scored 83 goals, the second most in Cosmos history.
Jerry Liebman Studios photo courtesy New York Cosmos
Former Cosmos and Paraguayan international Roberto Cabanas died Monday after suffering a heart attack.

He was 55.

Roberto's brother, Valerio Cabanas, confirmed his passing.

Cabanas was a well-known figure for top Argentine league side Boca Juniors.

“It is confirmed that my brother has died. He had a heart attack” in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, Valerio told local radio station ABC.

Valerio Cabanas said the player’s sudden death took his family by surprise.

“He didn’t have so much as a headache," he said. "He didn’t say anything to us” to indicate he was unwell.

Known in his home country as “The Panther,” Cabanas played in the Paraguay side that won the Copa America in 1979.

After scoring three goals in four games with Paraguay's national side, Cabanas joined the Cosmos in May 1980. He registered four goals and assisted on two others in 15 games in his first season, becoming a key cog for the team during the playoffs. That's when he accumulated five assists in as many matches, including setting up Giorgio Chinaglia's game-winner in the Soccer Bowl in the 3-0 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

In five seasons with the Cosmos, Cabanas scored 60 goals and added 31 assists in 87 games. His goal total ranks second in team history only to Chinaglia. Those numbers would have been higher had he not been plagued by injuries in 1981 and 1982. The Paraguayan cracked a vertebra late in the 1981 season, and on his return to the team in 1982, broke his arm. He played only six games that regular season, but had seven goals, then went on to add three more goals and two assists in six playoff games as the Cosmos won another title.

Cabanas' 1983 season was one of the best in North American Soccer League history. He led the league with 25 goals and added 16 assists for 66 points, becoming the third Cosmos player to lead the league in scoring, after Randy Horton (1972) and Chinaglia.

His 66 points was the seventh-highest total in league history, and he had a clean sweep of league awards that year, being named Top Forward, Top Scorer, Most Valuable Player and Goal of the Year winner for an incredible mid-air backheel strike that was one of the most spectacular goals in NASL history.

After leaving the Cosmos, Cabańas helped America de Cali to three straight Copa Libertadores finals. He also played for Lyon and Brest in France, then returned to South America, playing for Barcelona Sporting Club (Ecuador), Boca Juniors, Libertad, Independiente Medellin and Real Cartagena.

He helped Paraguay qualify for the 1986 World Cup, and starred for the team, scoring both goals in a 2-2 tie with Belgium in the group stage.
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