Thursday, February 04, 2010

Argentina legend VARALLO turns 100 years old!

Our country began the year of the bicentenary festivities. On 25 May, 2010, Argentina will blow its 200th candle and there are parties being organized in every province to remember those days in 1810 when the first Argentine government (formed by Argentines) was proclaimed.

But this post is not about 'El Bicentenario de la República Argentina'. This is about a man who has lived half of his country's life! The only survivor from the first ever World Cup (Uruguay 1930), Francisco 'Pancho' VARALLO is celebrating his first century today (5 February) and Mundo pays tribute to one truly great Albiceleste icon.

VARALLO made the news last year when his record as the top goalscorer in the professional history of Boca Juniors with 181 goals was shattered by Martín PALERMO and today you'll see many references about him in the media around the world (or at least that's my hope). Back when PALERMO was chasing his record, a 99-year old VARALLO joked and said: "I'm thinking of coming out of retirement to score some goals and keep the record!"

We are talking about a man who was there when the first kick of the first FIFA World Cup happened. He played in the first final (though we lost to Uruguay) and he is still alive to tell the story.

VARALLO was born in La Plata and despite having a trial with Estudiantes, he went on to play for their arch-rivals: Gimnasia y Esgrima.

In 1929 he won Gimnasia's only domestic league title to these days. Though most pundits start counting titles since 1931 when football became professional and they don't consider everything that happened in the years leading to professionalism, when players were already being paid though not officially. I DO count the titles from the Amateur Era as it was during that era that clubs earned their fame and admiration whilst they captured the nation's imagination with that new and fascinating sport we call fútbol.

When VARALLO was 20, it was time for him to join the national team and go to Montevideo for the World Cup. Believe it or not, he was there when the mythical Centenario stadium was inaugurated! To put things into perspective, let me tell you that I was there not so long ago and I was overwhelmed by that venue. We are talking about a place that oozes with history. And to think this guy was around when they first kicked a ball around there is really something.

Known for his powerful shot despite not being a very big or strong player, he earned the nickname of 'El Cañoncito' (The Little Cannon). VARALLO was then attracted by the most popular club in Argentina: Boca Juniors. And he played the rest of his career for them, scoring 181 goals in 210 matches.

He won three league titles with Boca Juniors (1931; 1934 and 1935) and then he lifted the South American Championship trophy in 1937 with Argentina (such was the name of the current Copa America).

In 1994, FIFA gave him the Order of Merit, the highest award given by football's governing body to individuals.

He is the only Argentine footballer ever to receive such an honour (although *spit* Julio GRONDONA *spit* is listed with the Order of Merit in the category: 'Football Officials' alongside legends like Jules RIMET and Santiago BERNABEU, believe it or not. But I don't want to spoil this post on VARALLO talking about the mafioso dinosaur that has ruined Argentine football and will continue to do so. But after all, we are talking about FIFA. They do one thing right for every 1500 things they do wrong!).

Back to what brings us here today. Here's my message to 'El Cañoncito':

Dear Francisco VARALLO:

Mundo Albiceleste salutes you and wishes you all the best in your birthday. You are a true legend!

Here's the comments' box with a lot of love from Argentina fans around the World!



Anonymous said...

you're a true legend Francisco, hope you live many more years!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday!!!

Anonymous said...

Breaking news .. Diego maradona call Ortega and Ayala for 2010 cup . News flashing on argentina radio..

Anonymous said...

Great writing Sebastian, I found this website few days ago and it is really amazing.
I hope I can keep the track and contribute as much as I can.
Keep the good work!

Happy BDay Varallo.

Ari, California...

Akash said...

Happy birthday PANCHO VARALLO

John said...

Welcome to Mundo Albiceleste Ari, glad that you manage to find us and we hope to hear more from you in the future.

And here is my personal wish for the great PANCHO VAROLLO.

Feliz Cumpleanos 100x!!!!

Roy said...

Happy Birthday to Varallo! Here's to another 100!

johnny said...

Congrats to Pancho, and also to John Terry ! Ha Ha ! A great guy and a guy.

Go Grondona Go Maradona said...

Can anybody explain this story?
I translated it thru Google & found it a good news for me!!

Mohd said...

Another brilliant display from Banega. and scored a goal also...this player alone can bring harmony to the midfield.

pisingh said...

Definitely- banega is playing better than any other Argentine midfielder in that role, and he looks fit and strong enough to continue his development technically.

pisingh said...

God bless you Francisco

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