Former Indiana great Armando Betancourt, Soccer America’s Player of the 1980s, died on Wednesday at the age of 63 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
“We lost an IU legend today,” head men’s soccer coach Todd Yeagley said. “Armando was a wonderful player with attacking gifts very few players possess. He helped IU soccer become a national power and then went on to represent Honduras in the 1982 World Cup. He is one of the all-time greats to wear the IU jersey and a legendary player for Honduras."
According Jaime Villegas, who played with Betancourt on the 1982 Honduras World Cup team, Betancourt was hospitalized in San Pedro Sula and died of Covid-19. Villegas said that Betancourt's wife, Dilma, was hospitalized at the same time for Covid-19 but has since recovered and returned home.
Betancourt first attended Tulane University in New Orleans and then the University of Alabama, where he played club soccer, before he enrolled at Indiana in 1979. He earned All-America honors during all three of his seasons at IU (1979-81) and won the Hermann Trophy in 1981 when he scored a career-best 27 goals, the second most by an IU player for a single season, and notched an Indiana record 63 points.
Angelo DiBernardo, Ken Snow and Betancourt were named to Soccer America’s All-Century team in 2000. He was elected to the IU Hall of Fame in 1992, joining five other Indiana men’s soccer players in the IU Hall of Fame.
“His gifts on the field were special, yet his wonderful personality, incredible smile, humility and compassion for others made him a superstar," said Yeagley, whose father, Jerry, was Betancourt's coach. "For everyone who knew Armando, we all have a heavy heart today but feel so lucky to have called him a friend.”
Betancourt, whose nickname was "El Canon," played for Honduras at the 1977 World Youth Championship, FIFA's first youth championship. He was one of the first college soccer players to play in the World Cup, starting all three games for Honduras as the 1982 finals in Spain, where the Catrachos tied the host country and Northern Ireland before being eliminated by Yugoslavia. (Jean-Herbert Austin from NYU and Serge Racine from LIU represented Haiti in 1974.)
Betancourt later played for French club Strasbourg and Logrones in Spain and indoors with the St. Louis Steamers and Kansas City Comets. He lived in Florida before returning to Honduras,
Betancourt was the third player from the 1982 Honduran World Cup team to die in 2021. Luis Cruz died of Covid in January in San Pedro Sula, while Celso Guity, who worked in the New York area for many years as a construction worker, died of cancer in February in Florida.