7 things you didn’t know about Uruguay’s national soccer squad

Uruguay wins the Copa America 2011
Uruguay wins the Copa America 2011 Photo: Jimmy Baikovicius

Uruguay is international football’s most successful nation. La Celeste, as the national soccer team is known, has won twenty titles in total, the most recent being the Copa America in 2011 and they finished fourth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and reached the 2014 quarter-finals.

Not bad for a country of just three and a half million.

Did you know?

  • Uruguay hosted the first ever World Cup – and both stadiums used are still the premier venues for matches today.
  • Uruguay has won the World Cup twice. They won the first ever World Cup in 1930. And beat Brazil at the final in the legendary Maracanã stadium in 1950.
  • Uruguay has won the Copa America more than any other South American nation – 15 times. The Copa America is the longest running international continent-wide football tournament in the world. Uruguay has finished in the top four every year except two (1993 and 2015).
World champions: Andrade before the World Cup football final in 1930. Photograph: Getty
World champions: Andrade before the World Cup football final in 1930. Photograph: Getty
  • “The first Pelé” was Uruguayan.  José Leandro Andrade was a football phenomenon who has been called the first black icon in football and was possibly the first sporting sex symbol. An imposing six-footer, in the 1920s, when the Olympic Games was in effect a world championship of football, Andrade was entrancing European audiences to such an extent that hundreds of thousands came to watch him play.
  • Uruguay has more teams per capita registered with their national football association (the AUF) than any other nation in the world.
  • Uruguayan fans are crazily devoted and ready to put their pesos where their mouths are. Just one of countless examples… At the start of the 80s, Fernando Morena, crack Uruguayan striker, was playing in Spain. He had transfered there from Montevideo club Peñarol where during one memorable match he scored 8 goals. In 1981, Peñarol fans desperately wanted Morena back for the club’s 90th anniversary. Operation Morena was launched with fans clubbing together the equivalent of a million dollars to pay for Morena’s transfer back to Uruguay out of their own pockets. Morena went on to become Uruguay’s top scoring player, a record he still holds today.
  • The 1992 Uruguay squad had one of the best official football anthems EVER – written by Jaime Roos, great lyrics and in the local candombe rhythm with carnival (murga) choruses. #GottaLoveUruguay!!!


Find more articles about the beautiful game on Guruguay

Guruguay thanks Fanaticos del Futbol, Montevideo’s premier football tour organisers, for the inspiration and some of the information for this article. More about them soon!

Article thumbnail: PRO Jimmy Baikovicius

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