Francisco Varallo, player at 1st WCup, dies at 100

Former Argentina footballer Francisco Varallo, the last
surviving player from the first World Cup in 1930, died on Monday
at the age of 100. His death in La Plata, Argentina, was confirmed
by Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima, which did not specify the
cause of death.

Varallo played in the final between Uruguay and Argentina in
Montevideo, Uruguay – a match that Argentina famously lost 4-2.

Varallo began his career with the club Gimnasia, but made his
mark with Boca Juniors. He is Boca’s second-leading scorer with 194
goals, behind only the club’s current striker Martin Palermo.
Varallo was nicknamed ”Canoncito” (little canon) for his powerful
shot.

He won national titles with Gimnasia in 1929 and with Boca in
1931, 1934 and 1935. He retired as a player in 1940 and worked as a
coach with Boca’s lower-division teams and coached Gimnasia in
1957-59.

Varallo gave an interview earlier this year to FIFA – the world
governing body of football – to mark his 100th birthday. He said
the loss to Uruguay was his greatest disappointment.

”I achieved a lot of nice things in my career,” he said in the
interview. ”I represented the national team and was Boca’s record
goalscorer. However, in my whole life I’ve never felt such a bitter
pain as losing that World Cup final against Uruguay in 1930.”

Varallo started all three group games in the 1930 World Cup: a
1-0 victory over France, a 6-3 win against Mexico and 3-1 defeat of
Chile. However, he missed the semifinal – a 6-1 victory over the
United States – after picking up an injury in the Chile game.

He told FIFA he was doubtful for the final against Uruguay.

”I was a young lad of 20 years of age and I was ready to take
on the world,” Varallo told FIFA. ”I tested the injury on the
morning of the final and I felt fine so I decided to play. It was a
risk because there were no substitutions back then. But it was
worth it. I wasn’t going to miss that game for anything in the
world.”

Argentina led 2-1 at halftime. After that, Varallo said the
Argentines were soundly beaten.

”We ran out of steam, to tell you the truth,” Varallo said.
”With all due respect to my teammates, we weren’t gutsy enough.
How I cried that day. Even now when I look back it still makes me
angry.”