Much has been made as Uruguay has progressed to the semifinal of the World Cup
Uruguay had been the great team of the 1920s, traveling to Paris in 1924 for the Olympic Games and writing one of the first great romantic stories of soccer. It was a team of workers, featuring a meat-packer, a marble-cutter, a grocer and an ice-salesman. It traveled to Europe in steerage, and, drawing some interest as the first South American team to play in Europe, played to pay for their board, winning nine friendlies in Spain before they even reached France.
Uruguay was the first Latin American side to tour Europe, but it attracted little attention -- at least initially -- only around 2,000 turning up to watch them eviscerate Yugoslavia 7-0 in their opening game in the Olympics. Word soon got around. "Game after game," the poet
Uruguay didn't travel to Europe for the tournament in 1934 and 1938, but it made the short trip to Brazil in 1950. It got lucky in the first round, in which the withdrawals of Scotland and Turkey meant it had only Bolivia to beat to reach the final group pool. This was still a skilful Uruguay side, but it also had a toughness, physical and mental.
A draw against Spain and a win over Sweden meant Uruguay had to win its last match to be champions. Its opponents, Brazil, had won both its first two games in the final pool and required only a tie in front of an estimated crowd of over 200,000 in the Maracana. Most thought it was a foregone conclusion. The early editions of
Before the game, as the players waited to take the field,
Brazil, subdued rather than neutralized, started well, but they couldn't find an opener.
Friaca put Brazil ahead two minutes after halftime, but Uruguay knew by then it could live with Brazil. With 24 minutes remaining, it equalized,
That was garra, and it is the legacy of that win when all circumstance was against it that will inspire Uruguay against the Netherlands on Tuesday.