Football (fútbol) is one of the most popular recreational sports in Uruguay. As a football-loving nation, Uruguay has produced some of the soccer greats that have been known the world over for their skills and individual contribution to the sport. Some of these names have become synonymous with soccer itself.
The year was 1930. It was the inaugural world championship for men’s national soccer teams for the FIFA World Cup. There were a total of 13 teams representing their respective country – two were from North America, four were from Europe and seven football teams were from South America. In the semi-finals, the teams in the contest are United States, Yugoslavia, Uruguay and their eventual arch rival Argentina. In front of 93,000 screaming spectators gathered in the Estadio Centenario, especially built for the tournament, Uruguay bested Argentina with a score of 4 – 2 to become the first country to win the World Cup.
Uruguay was selected to host the inaugural tournament, besting Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden because Uruguay was then the current Olympic champions and the country also planned to build a new stadium for the world event. Uruguay, already a rich nation, offered to refund all the expenses of participants. It will take another 20 years before Uruguay was able to win the World Cup once again.
For a bit of history, Uruguay has a land area of about 176,000 square kilometers and a population of less than 3.5 million. Uruguay is a dwarf compared to its neighboring South American nations. Despite this or maybe because of it, Uruguay has risen to become one of the biggest successes in the world of football.
In September 1891, British railway workers founded the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club, a group dedicated to playing cricket and football. Because the name is hard to pronounce among the Spanish-speaking populations, it was informally called “Peñarol” in honor of the town where it was formed. The influx of migrant workers at the turn of the century brought about the formation of other clubs such as Nacional, Liverpool, and Wanderers. These migrant workers came from all over Europe and this very variety was responsible for the formation of Uruguay, as well as some South American countries’ unique style of football, characterized by short passes, dynamic player movement and play of attack.
By 1916, the Uruguay national football team or La Celeste (the sky blue one) won the first Copa America (then called the South American Championship) and dominated the Cup five times before they joined the Olympics. In 1924, the Uruguay national football team crossed the Atlantic and competed in Paris, the first South American team to join the Olympics, and claimed the Olympic gold. In 1928, the national soccer team defended their title in the Olympics and won their second Olympic gold. Fresh from their double triumph in the Olympics, Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in the midst of its centenary celebrations in 1930. The national soccer team eventually came out on top, thrashing arch rival Argentina in the finals, 4 – 2.
For the next few World Cups, Uruguay declined to enter because some European teams did not participate in the 1930 World Cup. Uruguay became the first and only country to decline defending their soccer championship title. In 1950, Uruguay joined the World Cup again. This time they joined not as the champion team that they once were but as the underdog. In the 1950 World Cup, several people had expected Brazil to win. Not only was the Brazilian team an attack force to reckon with, the World Cup was held in the Maracana stadium in Brazil giving them the home court advantage. In what was touted as one of the biggest upsets in the world, Uruguay managed to defeat the Brazilians. Such was the surprise at Uruguay’s win that several reports of Brazilians being treated for shock had surfaced. Meanwhile, in Uruguay, the government declared a public holiday and the partying had begun. It was reported that three people had died of heart attacks while listening to the broadcast on the radio. An additional five people died during the festivities. As for the winning team, they were treated as national heroes.
After the 1950 World Cup high, Uruguay never did seem to get into their fútbol-winning spirit again. The succeeding years were a disappointment to most fans and players as Uruguay started to slip in the football rankings. At one point, the former champions even slipped down to rank 54th in the FIFA rankings.
However, in 2010, Uruguay seemed suffused with a new hunger for the win. The current generation managed to bag the 2011 Copa America win and established the Uruguay national football team as the most successful team in South America with a record fifteen Copa America titles.
Obdulio Jacinto Varela
Obdulio Varela was more commonly known as the “El Negro Jefe” or The Black Chief due to his dark coloring. He was the center half of Deportivo Juventud. He led the national team to victory during the 1940, 1946, and 1948 Baron de Rio Branco Cup. He was also in the Peñarol club and contributed to the club’s win of six Uruguayan league championship titles. He was the team captain during the big upset of the 1950 World Cup final where Uruguay beat Brazil. That win was unexpected and touted as a miracle that Varela became an immortal in the eyes of his Uruguayan fans. El Negro Jefe was 37 years old when he travelled to Switzerland to defend the country’s World Cup title in 1954. Even though he was the oldest player then to make an appearance in the World Cup, this did not affect his playing. In the quarterfinal, Varela suffered a leg injury. Since substitutions were not allowed then, Varela had to play the remaining hour and a half with his leg heavily bandaged. Despite the injury, Varela persisted to display his natural and street smart skills that made him one of the best football captains of the sport.
Juan Alberto Schiaffino
Schiaffino was born in 1925 in Montevideo. He joined the youth squads of Peñarol at seventeen and moved to the senior squad a year later. He became a member of the national team when he reached nineteen years of age.
Despite his relatively small stature, Schiaffino proved that he can hold his own against the toughest defenders in the world of international soccer and established himself as one of the best inside forwards of the 1950 World Cup. He was the second highest scorer in the 1950 World Cup and he netted the equalizing goal against Cup favorites Brazil in the final. This set the Uruguay squad on their road to winning the championship. He was injured during the 1954 World Cup which saw Uruguay’s defeat against the Hungarians. Despite this, AC Milan paid £72.000 for Schiaffino. Six months after the World Cup, he played his first game for the club and made possible the club’s win of three Championships and the 1958 European Cup.
Before he retired from professional football in 1962, he had spent two seasons with AS Roma. He became manager of Peñarol in 1976 and was also a manager of the Uruguay national team for a short time.
Hector Pedro Scarone
Scarone started his fútbol career with Sportsman, a Third Division Montevideo club, at the age of fourteen. He was signed by Nacional a year after that. He was known to many as “El Magico” or The Magician.
During Scarone’s prime, Uruguay was one of the top football countries in the world. He had emerged as one of the greatest inside forward footballers to play in the pitch prior to World War II. He started playing for the Uruguay national soccer team in 1917 against Argentina and became one of the most important members of the squad for more than a decade. Scarone was a leading contributor to the country’s win of two Olympic gold medals, scoring five goals in the 1924 Olympics and three goals in the 1928 Olympics.
Scarone displayed a great balance that was the classic mold of the Uruguay players of his era—he was both a skilled individual player and an important member of the team. He played his last few matches for the national team during the first World Cup held in Uruguay. Uruguay went on to win the Cup and this served as the perfect ending to Scarone’s brilliant career. He retired from the national fútbol team after the World Cup but still continued playing football for many years after. When he was 55, he was still playing for Nacional.
He had a total of 51 international appearances and holds the record for most international goals, having booted 31 goals.
José Nasazzi Yarza
José Nasazzi Yarza was born on 24 May 1901 in Montevideo. As a football player, he played for three clubs: Bella Vista, Lito, and Nacional.
Nasazzi was known to many as “El Gran Mariscal” or The Great Marshal. Many consider him to be the greatest football player to come out of Uruguay. Prior to the inaugural World Cup, he led the team to three Copa America titles (1923, 1924, and 1926) and the Olympic gold for the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. During the World Cup, he rallied his team to win against Argentina despite Argentina’s early lead of 1 – 2 at half time. The game finished with Nasazzi lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy with a 4 – 2 victory.
Before he retired in 1937, he led the national team again to win the Copa America in 1935.
José Leandro Andrade
Andrade was born in 1901 in Salto to an Argentine mother. When he was still young, he moved to one of the barrios in Palermo to live with an aunt. Before playing football, Andrade worked at a number of different jobs. He had shined shoes and sold newspapers at various times in his life. He had also worked as carnival musician and had even led the drum corps for the Comparsa Libertadores de Africa.
He started playing soccer in the youth squad of Misiones, a Montevideo club. He was signed by Bella Vista during the early twenties and made 71 appearances and 7 goals. He was first selected to play for the Uruguay national team while in this club. He transferred to Nacional after his stint with Bella Vista and helped the team win three national cups and four Uruguay championships.
He was part of the national team that won the 1923, 1924, and 1926 Copa America championship. He was also part of the squad that won the 1924 Olympic gold in Paris and was the first person of African descent to play in international football. He was nicknamed the Black Marvel for his African heritage. He also participated in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam where he hit a goal post and injured his eye. Eventually the injury deteriorated and he became blind in that eye. He also participated in the 1930 World Cup and despite his injury; he still played the best that he could. He was celebrated as one of the finest players in the cup. France Football even ranked him tenth in their World Cup Top 100.
However, later in his life, Andrade had become an alcoholic and was living in the poorer areas of Montevideo. He died in 1957 of complications of tuberculosis.
Enzo Francescoli Uriarte
Enzo Francescoli Uriarte had the most appearances for an outfield player in the history of Uruguay international football with 72 appearances. He is nicknamed “El Principe” or “Le Prince” (The Prince).
He started playing professionally for the Montevideo Wanderers. He also played for the Argentine club River Plate and had earned 5 league titles and the 1996 Copa Libertadores. In Europe, he played for two French clubs, Racing Club de Paris and Olympique Marseilles and two Italian clubs, Cagliari and Torino.
El Principe is fluid and graceful with the ball and is known for his skilled dribbling, passing, and scoring. His skill with the ball has been recognized by the managers of the Uruguay national fútbol team, leading to his selection and appearance for the team a total of 72 times. He also won three Copa America titles for Uruguay (1983, 1987, and 1995). Pele even considered him as one of the top living football players of the world.
Luis Alberto Cubilla Almeida
Cubilla is also known as “El Negro”. He started playing with the youth squads of Colon de Paysandu. He joined Peñarol in 1957 and significantly contributed to the team’s win of four Uruguay league championships, one Copa Intercontinental, and two Copa Libertadores. He moved to Spain in 1962 to join FC Barcelona and was again part of the team’s win of the Copa del Rey. He moved to Argentina to play for River Plate in 1964. He returned to Uruguay in 1969 to join Nacional and won another four Uruguay league titles, a Copa Interamericana, a Copa Internacional, and a Copa Libertadores. The last league title he won was for Defensor Sporting in Uruguay.
After retiring as a player, Cubilla became a coach. He had great success with Paraguay’s Club Olimpia. With his guidance, the Paraguay club won several national championships and seven international titles. Since then, he had coached several soccer clubs in Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador. As of 2010, he returned to Paraguay to coach Club Olimpia again.
Overall, Cubilla has earned 15 titles as a football player and 17 titles as a coach.
Néstor Fernando Muslera Micol
Fernando Muslera currently plays as a Galatasaray goalkeeper and is the first choice goalkeeper for the Uruguay national soccer team. He was born on June 16, 1986 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Muslera started playing soccer in the youth clubs of the Montevideo Wanderers and debuted professionally for the same club in 2004. After displaying his remarkable skills for the Wanderers, Nacional took him on loan in 2007. His impressive performance in Nacional garnered the attention of European football clubs and he was signed by Lazio on August 2007 for €3 million. The early part of his first season with Lazio saw Muslera in the starting lineup but after a disastrous loss against Milan, he was put on the bench. In the 2008-2009 season, Muslera was benched in favor of Carrizo. However, Muslera started to gain starter status after a string of poor performances by Carrizo. He displayed his once famous impressive form and was an important part of the club’s victory of the 2009 Coppa Italia. He was known to Lazio fans as “Castorino” (Little Beaver) and his winning form contributed to another Lazio win in 2009, the Supercoppa Italiana.
In July 2011, he signed with Turkish club Galatasaray for a total of €12 million for a five year contract, making him the most expensive goalkeeper in Turkey and the fifth highest-paid goalkeeper in football history.
He joined the Uruguay national football team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was awarded by IFFHS as the seventh best goalkeeper in the world. He was also asked to join the team in the 2011 Copa America which Uruguay eventually won. He played in all of the games and was awarded the Man of the Match for the quarterfinal game against arch rival Argentina.
Juan Guillermo Castillo Iriart
Juan Castillo, born on April 17, 1978 in Durazno, currently plays as a goalkeeper for Colo Colo. He is a reserve goalkeeper for the Uruguay national football team.
In 2008, Botafogo signed Castillo for a 2-year contract. As he went on with Botafogo, he frequently became part of the starting eleven. He moved to Colombian club Deportivo. For his first season he was part of the starting lineup and even contributed to the soccer club’s win of the Copa Colombia. However, he left the club after only one season. He moved to Chilean club Colo Colo for a one year contract.
He was called up for the Uruguay national football team for the 2007 Copa America and the 2010 World Cup. He was also part of the team that won the 2011 Copa America.
Martín Andrés Silva Leites
Martin Silva was born on March 25, 1983 in Montevideo. He stands 6’ 1 ½” and currently plays as the goalkeeper for Uruguay soccer club Defensor Sporting and as a reserve goalkeeper for the national team.
Silva has been with Defensor Sporting since the start of his professional career in 2002. He has been invited to join the national football team since the 2010 World Cup where he was the third choice goalkeeper. He also participated as a goalkeeper in the winning squad of the 2011 Copa America.
Diego Alfredo Lugano Moreno
Diego Lugano, born on November 2, 1980 in Canelones is currently the central defender for the Turkish Super League club Fenerbahce. He is also the current captain of the Uruguay national football team. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he has been selected as the best captain.
Lugano started playing professionally for Sao Paulo in 2003. After the departure of Oswaldo de Oliveira, Lugano played more frequently for the team. By 2005, he played for the club as a center back and led the team to win the Copa Libertadores, Campeonato Paulista, and the FIFA Club World Championship. He was also acknowledged as the best defender of South America that same year. Fans and supporters of Sao Paulo highly regarded his skills as a leader and his defensive skills even when he was no longer with the club.
He joined Turkish club Fenerbahce on August 2006 for €7.5 million for a contract of 3+1 years. His excellent defensive abilities and Dracena’s are vital to Fenerbahce’s league win on the club’s centenary anniversary. He became one of the football club’s fan favorites because of his attack presence, tenacity in defending, and ability to score goals in dead ball situations. He is also known as “TOTA” [Talento (Talent), Orgullo (Pride), Tecnico (Skillfulness), Ambicion (Ambition)] to fans. In 2009, he signed a new contract with the club for four years.
He is married with three children and considers fellow defenders Paolo Montero and Hugo de Leon as his personal heroes in football.
Diego Roberto Godín Leal
Born on February 16, 1986 in Rosario, 25-year old Diego Godin currently plays for La Liga club Atletico Madrid as a central defender. His physical presence combined with his quick and calm defense makes him a force to be reckoned with in the pitch.
He started playing professionally for CA Cerro. At twenty years old, he moved to Nacional where his maturity and professionalism allowed him to rise from the ranks and become captain in a short time.
In 2007, he signed with La Liga club Villareal CF for a five year contract. His participation in the team led to the club’s best placement in the league (runner-up). On August 2010, he signed with Atletico Madrid for €8 million after his great season with Villareal. He debuted for the club in the finals for the UEFA Super Cup which the team won against Internazionale Milano, 2 – 0.
He started playing for the national soccer team of Uruguay at nineteen for a friendly against Mexico. He was part of the team for the 2007 Copa America, 2010 World Cup, and the winning team in the 2011 Copa America.
Sebastián Coates Nion
Twenty-year old Sebastián Coates, born on October 7, 1990 currently plays for Club Nacional de Football. Fans refer to him as Luganito (Little Lugano) because he is touted as the successor of current team captain Diego Lugano. Even Lugano himself considers him his successor in the defensive side.
He began playing for the youth squads of Nacional at eleven years and was the team captain. He signed for the senior squad at eighteen debuting at the match against Bella Vista. He was voted by El Pais, an Uruguay newspaper, as the man of the match.
Coates was part of the winning team for the 2011 Copa America and won the best Young Player award for the tournament.
Mauricio Bernardo Victorino Dansilo
Mauricio Victorino was born on October 11, 1982 in Montevideo. He currently plays as a defender for Cruzeiro, which he joined on the 1st of February 2011. Before playing for Cruzeiro, he played for Nacional, Plaza Colonia, Universidad de Chile, and Veracruz. He played for the Uruguay national football team in the 2010 World Cup and he was called up for a friendly in Lisboa against Angola. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he was involved in the shootout versus Ghana and scored Uruguay’s second penalty kick, which became one of the four goals scored by Uruguay that led them to their first semi-finals after 40 years.
Victorio Maximiliano “Maxi” Pereira Páez
Montevideo-born (June 8, 1984) Maximiliano Pereira currently plays for Portuguese SL Benfica. He mainly plays as a right back but can perform as a midfielder.
At eighteen, he started playing professionally for Defensor Sporting during the 2002-2003 season. He was a crucial member of the team. In the 2005 season, he achieved his career best so far with sixteen goals. He signed with Sport Lisboa e Benfica for €3 million.
He started playing soccer as a right midfielder in his first season and had difficulty adjusting to that position. For the next season, he switched to right back and adjusted well to that position. In the 2009-2010 season, Benfica won the Portugguese League Cup with his defense.
He represented Uruguay starting in 2005 in a friendly against Mexico. He was with the national fútbol squad for the 2007 Copa America and the 2010 World Cup. He was also part of the starting lineup for the winning soccer squad in 2011 Copa America.
José Martín Cáceres Silva
Martín Cáceres primarily plays as a central defender but can function either as a left or right back. He currently plays for La Liga club Sevilla FC. Cáceres hails from Montevideo where he was born on April 7, 1987.
He started playing football for Defensor Sporting and became a regular member of the starting eleven at a young age. In 2007 he signed with Spanish club Villareal CF. He was immediately loaned out to another La Liga club, Recreativo de Huelva and became one of the often used members of the team.
On June 2008, he transferred to FC Barcelona for a €16.5 million transfer fee. He rarely played for his only season with the team because of technical decisions and injury. Even after recovering from his injury, he was only the fourth choice stopper for the team. On August 2009, he was loaned to Serie A club Juventus FC. He began his season well and became a regular player. However, he was ultimately plagued by injuries which sent him to the bench for several months.
In August 2010, he was on loan to Sevilla and played regularly as a right defender. On May 2011, Sevilla agreed to Cáceres’s permanent move for €3 million and an additional €1.5 million in variables.
He was voted the Best defender at the 2007 South American Youth Championship. He also played for the U-20 national team at the 2007 World Cup. He was also chosen for the 2010 World Cup.
Andrés Scotti Ponce de León
Andrés Scotti is a midfielder currently playing for Chilean club Colo Colo. Born on December 14, 1975 in Montevido, he played for different clubs across different countries early in his career. Scotti started his football career for Central Espanol in 1996. He played with the Montevideo Wanderers in 1997. The next year, he played for Chilean first Division club Huachipito. He stayed there for two years before moving to Mexican First Division club Puebla FC in 2000. In 2001 he returned to Uruguay to play for the Wanderers again and played for Nacional in 2002.
He crossed the Atlantic to play for Russian Premier League club FC Rubin Kazan from 2003 to 2006. In 2007, he was loaned to Argentinos Juniors. In 2010, he signed with Chilean Colo Colo for a one year contract. He was frequently part of the starting eleven for the team.
He played for the Uruguay national fútbol team for the 2007 Copa America and the 2010 World Cup. He was also part of the winning team for the 2011 Copa America.
Egidio Arévalo Ríos
Egidio Arévalo Ríos, born on January 1, 1982 currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Club Tijuana. He is known for his powerful defensive maneuvers. He started his professional career in 1999 with Paysandú Bella Vista. In 2002, he moved to Bella Vista where he made a total of 108 appearances for the club and scored six goals. Prior to moving to current club Tijuana in 2011, he had played for one season for several clubs: Peñarol, Monterrey, Danubio, San Luis, and Botafogo.
He joined the national soccer team for the 2010 World Cup where he made a total of seven appearances. He was also part of the winning squad for the 2011 Copa America.
Diego Fernando Pérez Aguado
Thirty-one year old Diego Fernando Pérez, born on May 18, 1980 currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Italian Serie A club Bologna. He is nicknamed as “Ruso” (Russian) and one of the greatest example of the “Garra Charrúa”. The Uruguay national football team’s nickname is Los Charrúas. Garra Charrúa translates to Charrúan rage, an expression used by Uruguayans when displaying bravery against all odds when in competition against a foreign force. Charrúa is a group of indigenous people in Uruguay and southern part of Brazil.
He joined hometown Defensor Sporting at nineteen and quickly became a regular for the team. In 2003, he joined Montevideo team CA Peñarol. His stint with Peñarol was short because he was soon sent off to play for AS Monaco. He competed for his defensive midfield position with three other footballers and came up on top especially during the successful 2005-2006 season. On August 2010, he signed with Italian Serie A club Bologna. In his first season with the team, he had one of the highest assists on the team.
He made appearances for the national team for the 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2011 Copa America tournament. He was also part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup team.
Sebastián Eguren Ledesma
Sebastián Eguren currently plays as a defensive midfielder for La Liga Sporting de Gijón. Born in Montevideo on January 8, 1981 Eguren started playing for the Montevideo Wanderers and moved to Club Nacional de Football. While playing with Club Nacional de Football in 2004, he was positively tested for cocaine after a game against Ecuador team Club Deportivo El Nacional during the 2004 Copa Libertadores. He was suspended for a period of six months. He reasoned that it was from drinking coca tea—widely popular in use among the Andean countries to lessen the effects of altitude. The said match was held in Quito (located 2.8 km above sea level). Eguren received the shortest suspension applicable for cases of this kind.
In 2006, he played on loan to Hammarby IF from Rosenborg BK, a Norwegian club. He rapidly became one of the fans’ favorites and was signed for a three year contract by December 2006. On January 2008, he was loaned to Spanish La Liga club Villareal CF for one season. He immediately became part of the football club’s starting eleven lineup. As a center midfield player, Eguren partnered with Senna and helped the team reach second in the topflight. By May 2008, Villareal bought Eguren and he signed a three year contract with the club. He played his first full season during the 2008-2009 campaign. He was still partnered with Senna for the center midfield defense and he made a total of 32 league appearances for the club.
He was loaned to SS Lazio after losing his midfield defense position to another player in January 2010. However, he failed his medical test so the move was cancelled.
On February 2010, Eguren signed with AIK Fotboll, the reigning Swedish Champions. He was put under police protection by the club in March 2010 because he was harassed by Hammarby fans, arch rival of AIK, during training. In AIK, manager Mikael Stahre used him as an attacking midfielder instead of Eguren’s usual defensive midfield position.
In 2010, he signed a three year contract with his current club, Spanish First Division club Sporting de Gijón.
Eguren started playing with the Uruguay national football team for the 2001 Copa America. He was frequently called up by the national team to participate in friendly matches. He became a regular part of the national squad in the victorious 2011 Copa America.
Walter Alejandro Gargano Guevara
Walter Gargano was born in Paysandú on July 23, 1984. He is a midfielder currently playing for Napoli. Before transferring to Napoli on June 2007, he played for Uruguay club Danubio. He signed a five year contract with the Italian Serie A club for £2m. He was sidelined for two months after suffering a foot fracture while training with the team on March 2009. He did recover in time to play with the team’s last two games in the Serie A.
He was a substitute player for the Uruguay national football team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He also participated in the 2007 Copa America and the victorious 2011 Copa America.
Álvaro Daniel Pereira Barragán
Álvaro Pereira, a Montevideo native born on November 28, 1985 is a left midfielder currently playing for Portuguese club FC Porto. He started his football career with Miramar Misiones in 2003. Prior to moving to Romanian club CFR Cluj in 2008, he was with Quilmes Atlético Club and Argentinos Juniors. He has signed with CFR Cluj for €2.5 million and was regularly part of the team’s starting eleven. His stint with the team saw CFR Cluj’s win of the 2008-2009 Cupa României.
In 2009, Pereira signed with Portuguese FC Porto for €4.5 million and eighty percent of his rights. In his second season, he featured as a starter in all of the club’s league matches and was an important contributor to the team’s treble wins of the UEFA Europa League, Primeira Liga, and the Taça de Portugal in the 2010-2011 season.
He was a starter for the Uruguay national soccer team for both the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the winning 2011 Copa America.
Nicolás Lodeiro, born on March 21, 1989 is a midfielder currently playing for Dutch football club Ajax Amsterdam. He is quick footed and has an excellent control of the ball. He could play well using both feet but he is best known for his powerful left foot that is especially hard to block during free kicks.
He started playing soccer for the youth squads of Montevideo Nacional at fourteen. When he reached eighteen, he debuted in the senior squad and quickly acquired more playing time for the club. On April 2009, he had made significant progress as a football player and was recognized by IFFHS as the 58th highest scorer in the world after his Copa Libertadores performance. He was an essential member of Nacional especially during the 2008-2009 Copa Libertadores where the club reached the semifinals and had been considered as one of Uruguay’s best young players.
He signed with AFC Ajax in 2010 for two years with an option to extend it for two more years after. During the 2010-2011 season, he was unable to play for the club because of injuries from the 2010 World Cup.
He started playing for the Uruguay national soccer team in the 2009 U-20 World Cup. He played for the national team as a senior member for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa America.
Álvaro Rafael González Luengo
Álvaro González is from Montevideo. He was born in the capital city of Uruguay on October 29, 1984 and he currently plays for the Italian Serie A Lazio as a right winger. He started playing soccer professionally with Defensor Sporting where he made 108 league appearances and netted seven goals. He moved to Boca Juniors in 2007 and contributed to the Argentine club’s win of the 2008 Apertura and the 2008 Recopa Sudamericana.
Prior to moving to Lazio in 2010, he was with Nacional for a year. He had made 11 caps for the Uruguay national fútbol team and was part of the winning squad of the 2011 Copa America.
Cristian Gabriel Rodríguez Barotti
Cristian Rodríguez,born on September 30, 1985 in San Juan Lacaze, Uruguay is a left winger currently playing for Portuguese club SC Porto. He is nicknamed as “Cebolla” (Onion) during his days with Uruguay’s Peñarol because his technical ability and speed was said to have made the defense of the opposing team cry.
Rodríguez was supposed to study architecture at the University of the Republic but he chose to become a professional football player instead. He started playing for CA Peñarol at a young age and contributed to the club’s win of the 2003 Uruguayan League.
He was bought by French League club Paris Saint Germain FC in 2005. On August 2007, he was loaned to Portugal’s SL Benfica for one season. He was an important player for the club and was bought by FC Porto on June 2008. In August of the same year, FC Porto competed against Rodríguez’s former team SL Benfica and he was subjected to numerous jeers from Benfica fans. Despite this, he was able to settle well with Porto and was a part of Porto’s attacking trio.
He debuted for the Uruguay national football team in a friendly match against Mexico. He was also part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup team but was banned for four matches after assaulting Argentine footballer Gabriel Heinze. In addition, he was also a member of the 2007 and 2011 Copa America team.
Diego Forlán Corazo
Diego Forlán is a striker currently playing for La Liga club Atletico Madrid. He is a winner of the EFE Trophy, a two-time winner of both the European Golden Shoe and the Pichichi Trophy, and he received the 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball as the best player.
Forlán was a talented tennis player. However, instead of pursuing a career in tennis he opted to stick with his family’s football tradition. His grandfather played for the Argentine Independiente and his father played for Brazilian club Sao Paulo and the Uruguay national team for the 1966 and 1974 FIFA World Cups.
He started playing in the youth squads of Argentine Independiente where he spent four years developing his goal scoring skills. This got the attention of major European football clubs and by 2001 he was signed with English Premier League Manchester United. In his first season with the club, he did not score any goals in any of his eighteen appearances. He did better in his second season with nine goals out of 45 appearances and in his third season with eight goals out of 39 appearances. However, this was an underwhelming performance for Forlán and by 2004 he was out of the English club and signed with Spanish Villareal CF.
After his disappointing stint with Manchester United, Forlán returned to form and became one of Villareal’s most prolific scorers. He made 25 goals out of 38 appearances in the 2004-2005 season ensuring Villareal’s win of the 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup and his win of the Pichichi Trophy and the European Golden Boot.
He transferred to Atletico Madrid in 2007 and once again displayed the form that won his fans over for Villareal. He was especially impressive during the 2008-2009 season with his 38 goals out of 39 appearances that he won both the Pichichi Trophy and the European Golden Boot.
He appeared for the Uruguay national football team for the 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2011 Copa America. He was an especially potent force in the final game of the 2011 Copa America where he scored twice against Paraguay giving Uruguay the victorious lead of 3 – 0. His current international goal tally for the national football team of Uruguay is 31.
Forlán is a founding member of the Fundación Alejandra Forlán. Alejandra Forlán is a victim of dangerous driving and Forlán’s sister. She was integral to Forlán’s inspiration to become a football player.
Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz
Luis Suárez is a striker currently playing for English Premier League club Liverpool. He is nicknamed “El Pistolero” (The Gunner) and is a two-time Ajax Player of the Year, a winner of the Eredevisie Golden Boot and the Dutch Footballer of the Year, as well as the 2011 Copa America Most Valuable Player award.
Suárez was born in Salto on January 24, 1987 and was the middle child out of seven sons. He moved to Montevideo when he was seven with his family. He developed his skills in football in the streets and was invited to join the camp of the youth national team. He declined the invitation because he was too poor to afford the football shoes. He joined the junior team of Nacional at fourteen. He was spotted by Dutch scouts for Groningen while watching another player. After one game, they offered to buy him for €800,000.
His first days with Groningen were a struggle for Suárez because he did not speak either Dutch or English. He eventually learned the language and displayed his propensity for scoring goals. Other Dutch clubs saw his potential and initially offered to buy him from Groningen for €3.5 million. The deal was rejected by Groningen and Suárez even brought his case to the arbitration committee of the Dutch Football Association. The committee ruled against Suárez but the Ajax’s offer was raised to €7.5 million and Groningen accepted.
In his first season with Ajax in 2007-2008, Suárez scored 20 goals out of 40 appearances. He developed his deadly striking technique and aerial ability in Ajax earning him the Ajax Player of the Year for 2008–09 and 2009–10 and the Ajax Top Goalscorer for 2008–09 and 2009–10. He was also instrumental in the club’s win of the 2009-2010 KNVB Cup and the 2010-2011 Eredivisie. Eredivisie is the highest football league in the Netherlands, and the name translates to Honorary Division.
In January 2011, Premier League club Liverpool FC offered £22.8 million for Suárez and Ajax accepted. He signed a contract that will keep him in the English club until 2016.
Suárez was part of the starting lineup for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was also part of the winning squad for the 2011 Copa America and netted a total of four goals including the first goal of the national team against Paraguay in the finals.
Edinson Roberto Cavani Gómez
Edinson Cavani is also from Salto, Uruguay like Luis Suárez. He was born 21 days after the birth of Suárez on February 14, 1987 is a striker currently playing for Italian Serie A club Napoli. Fans call him “El Matador” because of his commanding presence.
He started playing for the junior squads of Danubio FC and made the senior team in 2006. His debut season with Danubio saw him making nine goals which contributed to the club’s 2006-2007 Torneo Apertura win.
He signed with Palermo in January 2007. His first and second seasons in Palermo saw Cavani struggling for first team place. In June 2008, he was a regular part of the starting eleven and was a significant contributor to the soccer club’s excellent campaign in the Italian Serie A and potential qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
In June 2010, Cavani signed with Palermo rival Napoli. He continued his spectacular form with Napoli and by May 2011 signed a new contract to stay with the team until 2016.
He started playing for the Uruguay national football team for the 2007 South American Youth Championship. He was the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals out of nine appearances and helped his country reach the third spot. He was part of the senior squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the victorious 2011 Copa America squad.
Abel Mathías Hernández Platero
Abel Hernández, born in Pando, Canelones on August 8, 1990 is a striker currently playing for Serie A club US Città di Palermo. He is known to many as “La Joya”. He was one of the top scorers in the 2009 South American Youth Championship.
He started playing soccer professionally for Central Español. His spectacular run for his first four games with the club saw him netting five goals. He was acquired by football giant Peñarol in 2008 but was immediately snapped up by Italian Serie A club US Città di Palermo in 2009. He had little playing time in his early seasons with Palermo because of injuries incurred during the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
He was part of the victorious national fútbol squad for the 2011 Copa America.
Washington Sebastián Abreu Gallo
Sebastián Abreu currently plays as a striker for Brazilian Club Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas. He is known as “El Loco” (Madman) to fans and has played for more than twenty teams in six different countries during his professional football career. Abreau hails from Minas, Lavellaja Department where he was born on October 17, 1976.
In his early career, Abreu played for numerous clubs in Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. He received his first honor while playing for Argentine club San Lorenzo for the 2001 Clausura. He joined Uruguay First Division Nacional and earned several honors there including the 2001 and 2005 Uruguayo and the 2003 and 2004 Apertura. He returned to Argentina in 2008 and joined Club Atlético River Plate and helped the club win the 2008 Clausura.
Before signing with current club Botafogo, he had played for Spanish club Real Sociedad and Greek club Aris Thessaloniki FC. He was able to help Botafogo clinch the 2010 Carioca.
He played in both the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as the 2007 Copa America. He was also a member of Uruguay’s winning squad for the 2011 Copa America. A prolific goal scorer Abreu currently has 27 goals to his name in 66 international caps for Uruguay’s national football team.