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La primera gran estrella de Brasil: El Tigre Friedenreich

Brazil's first big star: El Tigre Friedenreich

The factory of brilliant and talented footballers that Brazil has built dates back to time immemorial. From Leônidas da Silva , Ademir, or Zizinho to the mythical Pelé and Garrincha going through more modern ones like Ronaldo Nazario, Ronaldinho or Neymar. The first great Brazilian star to play soccer was Arthur Friedenreich and with him the team achieved its first international victories.

 

Friedenreich, a native of São Paulo with a father of German ancestors and a Brazilian mother, was a mulatto soccer player who was discriminated against in his country because of his skin color. On the field of play he played as a striker and was a very intelligent, technical , generous, unpredictable footballer , skilful in short dribbling and above all very effective in scoring (unverified data confirms that he scored 1.23 9 goals in 1,329 games ) . The legend tells that he was the inventor of hitting the ball with effect and the gunner himself stated that "I have never missed a penalty in my career", but according to accounts from the Brazilian RSSSF he scored a total of twelve . His nicknames during his time as a player were several such as 'El Tigre', 'Fried', the 'King of Kings ', the 'King of Soccer' or the 'Green-eyed mulatto'.

 

In his very long career as a player that lasted a quarter of a century, he played in a dozen teams with special relevance for Paulistano, Sport Club Internacional , Santos , São Paulo or Flamengo . It was in Paulistano where he achieved more sporting successes both collectively and individually. With the sports club, he won six Paulista Championships or three Taça Competência, among others. To this end, Friedenreich became the competition's top scorer on seven occasions with the red-and-whites and once with Mackenzie's team in 1912 and with Ypiranga in 1917. His most prolific year was in 1921 with 33 goals, a figure that was record for ten seasons.

 

Already in the 30s and close to forty, he lived his second youth in São Paulo . In the tricolor team, he coincided in the locker room with Brazilian internationals such as Araken Patusca, Luisinho, Armandinho , Clodô and Junqueirinha and for several years it was a brilliant and very powerful team in Brazil. São Paulo lifted the Paulista and the Taça Competência in 1931 while the following year they were the Home Tournament and the Taça of the State Champions of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro his greatest achievements.

 

A few months later , in 1933, the stage of professionalization of soccer began in Brazil and Friedenreich, who was a total opponent of this system, began to lose the illusion of continuing to play. He retired at the age of 43 when he was wearing the Flamengo jacket and his last match was a clash against Fluminense on July 21 , 1935 . The duel ended with a draw at two and surprisingly none of the goals carried his signature.

 

 

 Friedenreich with the selection

 

The Brazilian Football Confederation had emerged in 1914 and in the first friendly matches of the team against Argentina or Colombia , 'El Tigre' lined up . The striker also participated in the first South American Championship in history in 1916 and scored against Uruguay , although Brazil finally finished third in the tournament. After his absence in the following Copa América in 1917, he returned to guide his country to victory in 1919, in a championship that was played on Brazilian soil a year later than it should. The reason: a flu epidemic that hit Rio de Janeiro in 1918.

 

In that Brazilian team that gave the first joy to their country, in addition to 'El Tigre', were the great goalkeeper Marcos and the media Fortes, the talented Amílcar or the controversial and brilliant Neco. However, the great leader, the best player of the tournament and the top scorer with four goals was Friedenreich. In the first game, Brazil defeated the Chileans 6-0 with a hat-trick from the attacker from São Paulo. In the second match, the Brazilian team beat Argentina 3-1 and thus the last match against Uruguay would decide the champion. The current champions Charrúas had a very powerful squad with Héctor Scarone, Ángel Romano or Isabelino Gradí n and they did not make it easy at all. The match ended in a draw and when both teams finished with the same points, a tiebreaker had to be played three days later at the same venue in Laranjeiras.

 

The contest went down in history for being the first in which an extension had to be used to determine the winner. The duel ended with a goalless tie after 90 minutes of regulation and a first 30-minute overtime was played where the score did not move either . For this reason it was decided to continue playing another extension of half an hour and two minutes into this extension (minute 122) Friedenreich appeared to beat Cayetano Saporiti with a beautiful and effective volley . That goal crossed the lines of soccer as racism towards blacks in Brazil began to decline apace. Friedenreich was a national hero and thus silenced the voices of many fans and even the Brazilian president Epitácio Pessoa who did not want him to play in that tournament with the national team. 'El Tigre' left the state of Laranjeiras on the shoulders of his teammates and soccer became a religion in the country with the people taking to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the title.

 

Three years later Brazil (again as hosts in Rio de Janeiro ) and Friedenreich lifted the second South American Championship in their history. However, in this edition, the already veteran striker was not one of the fixtures of coach Laís and although he played the matches against Chile and Uruguay, he did not play in the final against the Paraguayans. His last game with the national team took place in 1930 in a friendly against the French team in Rio de Janeiro, which they defeated 3-2 with a goal from 'Tigre'.