Article published on July 18, 2020, for the 90 years of the Centennial Stadium.
The Centennial Stadium of Montevideo was inaugurated on July 18, 1930 on the occasion of the first World Cup. On July 12, 1929, the architect Juan Scasso had been appointed to lead the work and on July 21 the foundation stone was laid, less than a year later the first match was played in the so-called ‘cement colossus’.
The first World Cup had started on July 13 with two games (one played in Central Park and the other in Los Pocitos court), and the Centennial was inaugurated five days later with the debut of the local team; Uruguay beat Peru 1 to 0 with a goal from Héctor ‘Manco’ Castro in the goal of the Colombes Tribune.
Its name was due to the commemoration of the 100 years of the Jura of the first constitution of Uruguay. Its vast history could be divided into different aspects to try to dimension its meaning and its importance in the football world and in the culture of the Eastern people.
Named by FIFA “Historic Monument of World Soccer” on July 18, 1983, the Centennial hosted the first final of a World Cup, played on July 30, 1930 and that consecrated the celestial by triumphing over Argentina 4 to 2 .
The stadium also held the first match of the Copa Libertadores (Peñarol against Jorge Wilstermann on April 19, 1960) and the first final of said contest was played: on May 12, 1960, the first leg of the final instance between the Aurinegro team and Olimpia, who played the second and final match in Asunción del Paraguay.
It is the stadium where the most matches (409) and the most finals (20) were played in the history of the Copa Libertadores. There it could be observed, for example, how Estudiantes de La Plata (in 1968) or Boca Juniors (in 1977) celebrated the continental title for the first time (on both occasions the Montevideo stadium served as neutral ground to receive the third tiebreaker game).
In the Centennial, six matches were also played for the Intercontinental Cup (among them the first match for this tournament, in 1960, and the first ‘tiebreaker’ in 1961) and the Gold Cup (‘Mundialito’) of 1980, the official tournament of FIFA where the world champion teams were invited to complete half a century of the first World Cup.
It has a special bond with Argentina beyond the fact that the Albiceleste team lost the 1930 final. And it is that, for example, in the Centennial three superclassics were played (summer tournaments of 1955, 1978 and 1984) and that the first Argentine champion team of the world (even considering the national team) was established in Montevideo: Racing de Avellaneda beat Celtic of Scotland 1-0 in 1967 in the third tiebreaker game played at the Centennial.
Considering the definitions of the Intercontinental and the 1930 World Cup, four world champions were consecrated in the Centennial, in addition to being the venue for the Americas Cups in 1942, 1956, 1967 and 1995.
As it is a constant setting for the Copa Libertadores and the CONMEBOL Qualifiers, it is difficult to find figures of South American football who have not played in the Centennial after it was inaugurated: the Brazilians Pelé, Garrincha, Tostão, Palinha, Falcao, Sócrates, Zico , Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Neymar, among others, have said present at the Montevideo stadium.
Just some of the great Argentine footballers who have stepped on its grass were Stábile, Di Stéfano, Sanfilippo, Maradona, Bochini, Alonso, Brindisi, Kempes, Gallego, Valdano (he debuted with the Albiceleste in the Centennial scoring two goals against Uruguay in 1976), Gatti, Houseman, Burruchaga, Batistuta, Messi and a long etcetera.
And the figures are not only limited to South America (adding, for example, the Chilean Elías Ricardo Figueroa, the Ecuadorian Alberte Spencer or the Peruvian Teófilo Cubillas), but also historical footballers from Europe played in the Centenary such as Eusébio, Ferenc Puskás, Rummenigge, the Italians Gentile, Carlo Ancelotti, Gianni Rivera and Fabio Capello, the French Giroud or the Dutch Van Persie.
The artists who have said present at the Centennial are not only framed in mastering the ball. International musicians have chosen the Stadium on repeated occasions to develop their concerts in Uruguay; are the cases of Paul McCartney, The Rollings Stones, Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, Guns n ‘Roses, Roger Waters, The Cult, Mercedes Sosa, Chico Buarque, Sabina, Serrat, Juan Luis Guerra, Fito Páez, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, among many others.
In addition to the cultural events generated by the ball, the Stadium, for example, was also the setting for the first recitals of Alfredo Zitarrosa and Los Olimareños after returning in 1984, after suffering exile from the dictatorship.
Having become a symbol of the oriental people, many of the Uruguayans have lived several of their greatest memories in the Olympic Tribunes, Amsterdam, America and / or Colombes.
With the Torre de los Homenajes as one of the references of the Uruguayan capital, the Centennial has given the country so much that some of its artists have dedicated several verses to the sports scene (Julio Julián with the song ‘Un domingo sin vos’; Lucas Lessa with El Estadio, the band Pa’ntrar en Calor with Guayaquí 2910, los 8 de Momo, etc.); This is not surprising since the Stadium is part of the Uruguayan daily life.
“Anxiety is entering and climbing your stairs,” says Raúl Castro in his theme Centennial Stadium. Some Uruguayans even claim that this World Soccer Historic Monument has a special smell, an easily recognizable aroma.
With Jaime Roos, Castro also wrote a song that chronicles a bar conversation between three old friends. In the story the hours go by while these guys ‘discuss, hug, remember, smile’ until dawn. And then ‘The night is dying, the accursed is announced / The waiter washes the legs of the scabio / And one of the three beats when he sees that it is clearing: / “Hold on, che !, it’s just … the lights of the Stadium.