By 90Min
February 02, 2018

Luis Monti is a rarity in football. As it stands, the man from Buenos Aires is the only player in history to appear in two FIFA World Cup finals for two different nations, winning one and losing one; but the manner in which these games were played was far more complex than just the matter of winning or losing.  

The man they called 'Doble Ancho' (double wide), such was his immense physique and ability to cover large portions of the pitch, was a rarity in football even before his momentous World Cup finals feat. The midfielder played with a hard hitting gusto and abrasive style of play that was unique in a time when relationships on the pitch were more friendly and respectful. 

(You may also be interested in: World Cup Countdown: 20 Weeks to Go - Where it All Started & the Story of Uruguay's 1930 Victory)

Monti was adored for his resistance to refereeing decisions, often critical of the officials on the pitch, something which is now a huge part of the Italian game. His determination and persistence once he had crossed the white line won him many admirers on the peninsula. 

The former Juventus man, along with the extreme pressures that would come with playing in a World Cup final in normal circumstances, had to endure the added intimidation of the fascist regime in both showpiece events he partook in. However, to contrasting effects...

"He used to say that in 1930, in Uruguay, they wanted to hurt him if he won. In Italy, four years later, they wanted to hurt him if he lost."

Monti began his international career in the blue and white of the Albiceleste - the country of his birth - where he would go on to win the 1927 South American Championship and a silver medal at the Olympics the following summer. 

Two years after his exploits at the Olympics, Monti embarked upon his first FIFA World Cup experience in Uruguay, where he was seen as a key player in the Argentina side due to his unique combination of physical dominance as well as excellent technical attributes. 

The attacking centre back helped his country to the final at the first time of asking, scoring twice along the way as Argentina knocked out France, Mexico, Chile and the United States before facing the hosts Uruguay in what was - and still is - regarded as the biggest game in football. 

(You may also be interested in: World Cup Countdown: 20 Weeks to Go - 'Victory or Death!' Argentina & Uruguay's Classic Final

The final itself was surrounded by controversy. The fascist regime had insisted that Argentina could not win the first World Cup, and took measures into their own hands to prevent it from happening. Monti in particular, perhaps Argentina's star player at the time, had been targeted by agents. 

According to Monti's granddaughter Lorena, 'Doble Ancho' was confronted at half time in the changing rooms, and was told that if his country did not lose this final, there would be consequences.

“At half-time, when Argentina were leading 2-1, they said that if Argentina didn’t lose, they would kill my grandmother and my aunt", said Lorena.

It is said that Monti was in tears at the interval as he felt helpless and unable to play his best game through fear, although it was later rumoured that he was carrying an injury; perhaps a smokescreen for the truth. 

The host nation came from behind to win the showpiece event, eventually running out 4-2 winners at the expense of an Argentina side now safe from the dangers of the fascists, but with heavy hearts after losing perhaps the biggest game of their lives. 

At the time, Italy in the 1930's was hot bed of extreme right-wing politics. Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party, had heard of Monti's Italian heritage and demanded that he represented Italy at the next World Cup, given the fact that he was one of the best players in world football at the time. 

However, as opposed to when the fascist group were insistent on Monti throwing the final with Argentina or else his and the life of his relatives would be in danger; this time, it was put to the hapless man that if he did not win the competition with Italy, he would face similar consequences. 

Monti incidentally won the trophy with his adopted Italy teammates at the 1934 World Cup, a game in which his appearance alone - as aforementioned - made him the first man ever to feature in two finals for two different nations - a statistic which amazingly still stands today. 

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