• Sunday, February 01, 2015

Uruguay 1930

Stabile, the fleeting wonder

Argentina's Guillermo Stabile scored eight goals in four matches during the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay. PHOTO: STAR PHOTO ARCHIVES
Argentina's Guillermo Stabile scored eight goals in four matches during the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay. PHOTO: STAR PHOTO ARCHIVES

World football's first great scoring hero, Argentina's Guillermo Stabile left an indelible mark on World Cup history by finishing as top scorer at Uruguay 1930, having scored a remarkable eight goals in four games.
The record of the fast, scoring centre-forward, who could have been an Olympic sprinter but chose soccer, was not bettered for 24 years.
As with every great legend, there are plenty of juicy anecdotes concerning Stabile. Not only did he arrive in Uruguay as a replacement, he had never even donned Argentina's famous blue and white strip before.
Stabile, a modest 1.68m tall, was nicknamed El Filtrador ('The creeper') on account of his ability to infiltrate powerful opposition defences using his low centre of gravity. Other attributes included his blistering acceleration and dazzling natural pace. It comes as no surprise then that he started his career in athletics and clocked up a personal best of 11 seconds in the 100 metres -- quite a feat in those days.
First-choice striker Roberto Cherro kept Stabile on the bench in Argentina's opening match at Uruguay 1930 and the Huracan marksman could not have had the slightest inkling of the role he would play during the next four games as the spearhead of the Argentine attack.
Cherro suffered an anxiety attack before their second game of the tournament and allowed Stabile to step forward for what proved to be a dream debut. On 19 July, Argentina served up a 6-3 drubbing to Mexico and El Filtrador netted a hattrick.
On the crest of a wave, Stabile went on to register again as Argentina won their final group game, beating Chile 2-1. He added two more to his tally in the 6-1 win over United States in the semifinal to set up a meeting in the final against the hosts, where he scored one but Argentina lost 2-4.

At least Stabile could console himself with the title of tournament top scorer, achieving an impressive average of two goals per game. Little did he know, however, that he would never again wear the Argentina national shirt. After his exploits in Uruguay, he tried his luck in Italy, joining Genoa. And just to prove that his FIFA World Cup performances had been no flash in the pan, he celebrated his debut in Europe by chalking up a hattrick against Italian league leaders Bologna.
Stabile ended his playing career in the Parisian suburbs at Red Star, a club run for many a year by Jules Rimet, the architect of the FIFA World Cup. After hanging up his boots, he stayed in football as manager of his former club Huracan and also Racing Club of Buenos Aires, while at the same time coaching the Argentina national side to repeated successes.
Between 1939 and 1960, he won the Copa America six times and managed the Albicelestes for 127 games. Later appointed director of Argentina's coach training school, Stabile died in late December 1966 at the age of 60.

Published: 12:00 am Monday, May 05, 2014

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