José María Villalón. A Good Samaritan at Atlético de Madrid

Married and father of 12 children. Doctor of Atlético de Madrid for almost three decades. Always full of projects and available to attend to anyone outside of office hours.

Arsenio Fernández de Mesa-November 28, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

I have a hard time hook José María Villalón, head of the medical services of the Atlético de Madrid. I catch him freshly landed from Qatar and he attends me just before leaving for Santiago de Chile. Soccer is very busy, back and forth, but not only for those who kick the ball around on the pitch. 

The doctor reminds me, proudly, "the two vocations of his lifeHe is married to Mariola, "his family and sports medicine. He is married to Mariola, "a wonderful woman".. José María is a man with a peaceful look, smiling, serene, affectionate. And it can't be easy with all the fuss he has at home. He is the father of 12 children, no less. He started working in the Spanish Athletics Federation, which made it possible for him to participate in the Olympic Games of Seoul 88' and Barcelona 92'. In the 95/96 season he joined the club of his love, then led by his good friend Radomir Antic. He remembers the period of purgatory in the second division: "We learned a lot from humility.". They had to go to camps with very hostile environments. It was a time of reflection that was good for them. Then they returned to the first division and little by little, with hard work, they won the titles. Their work is in the rearguard, but it is essential for the machinery to be well-oiled and to work: "it has been more than 25 years in the world of sports at the highest level, both in sports and in the media.". The essence of his vocation, he tells me, is in "the service to the patient, the accompaniment in the suffering of others, looking for a smile and comfort, giving it a meaning".

Dr. Villalón is certain that the world in which he moves is not an easy one and that the circumstances may at first be a bit of a setback: "It can become very frivolous, with a lot of body worship, large fortunes and very controversial.". But he never tires of remembering that these are people, just like him, with the same desires for great things and the same underlying concerns: "I'm just like him.Doing it to the best of my ability is an important part of my vocation, for that is my path to holiness".. It reveals to me that some doctors have a simple but fruitful human industry: to entrust the guardian angel of the patient who enters the door of the office. Without faith, without the Eucharist, without a life of prayer, he assures me that he would not be able to give himself to others, to smile at each patient, to serve without distinction. His devotion to Our Lady is great: "I love the Virgin of Fuencisla, from Segovia. My mother, Doña Matilde, was very Segovian and taught us to have great devotion to her.". Mary's care sustains him. 

José María recalls with amusement the first time he appeared in the press as a physician for the Atleti. It was in a short column that read in capital letters: "Villalón, the Good Samaritan".. It turns out that, in the first season at the club, a rough game was played against Deportivo de La Coruña. There was a clash between players of the two teams, leaving on the ground one of the Dépor and another of the red and white: "The doctor of the Galician team went to attend to the most serious one and I found myself in the situation of having to cure my own and the other one, so I started to stitch and bandage the heads of both, without giving any more importance".. The next day his father, a great red-and-white fan since he was a child, called him, proud because they had dedicated a brief chronicle to the Good Samaritan. Dr. Villalón fondly remembers the day he was able to meet St. John Paul II: "We had won the League and the King's Cup and we went to Rome to offer the two trophies to the Pope, headed by Jesús Gil.". It was with Mariola, his wife: "We were able to be very close to a saint, give him a hug and tell him, with a picture of the five children we had at the time, to pray for our family.". The Pope looked at them "with those piercing blue eyes of his." and smiled and nodded at them. 

Dr. Villalón is also president of the Federación Madrileña de Familias Numerosas. Very close to his wife and 12 children, he has managed to generate a home environment that he is passionate about transferring to his professional environment, so that everyone can feel that warmth and closeness: "Generating a real family spirit around me, which is what we experience at home on a daily basis, is a very apostolic dimension with players, coaching staff, hospital staff, patients and other medical colleagues.".

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