On the 4th November, 1967 – forty years ago on Sunday – Argentina finally gained its first football world championship, thirty-seven years after losing the inaugural World Cup Final to hosts Uruguay in 1930 in the Estadio Centenario. Having drawn 2-2 on aggregate, Racing played against European Cup winners Celtic in a third match tie-breaker, and ran out 1-0 winners in the same stadium as that 1930 loss, to claim the Intercontinental Cup for Argentina for the first time.
Since then, eight national sides (the seniors in ’78 and ’86, and the Under 20s in ’79, ’95, ’97, 2001, ’05 and ’07) and eight more club sides (Estudiantes, infamously, in ’68; Boca in ’77, 2000 and ’03; Independiente in ’73 and ’84; Vélez in ’94 and River in ’96) have been crowned champions of the world on behalf of Argentina, and Boca will have a go at adding a fourth world crown to their badge next month in Japan.
But it was Racing who got it all started, after inauspicious beginnings to the tie when they went down 1-0 to the Lisbon Lions in Glasgow in the first leg on the 18th October. The return, at El Cilindro (the Intercontinental Cup was taken seriously by European sides too then, and was played over two legs) on the 1st November was won 2-1 by Racing in controversial circumstances. Celtic ‘keeper Ronnie Simpson stormed off the pitch before the match complaining he’d been hit by a bottle – the projectile couldn’t be seen anywhere and Simpson didn’t have a scratch on him, according to Racing director Jorge Portella. John Fallon played in Simpson’s stead, and was to keep his place for the tie-breaker in Montevideo three days later.
Juan Carlos ‘El Chango‘ Cárdenas was the man whose goal (pictured above) would secure his and his club’s place in the history of the tournament, still the most fondly recalled by fans who remember it. Thereafter, Racing slid into decline, going through the worst couple of decades in their history. But that day, forty years ago this weekend, they claimed their place as Argentina’s first world champions, just as decades before they’d been the first great club side of the domestic league. Happy anniversary to all fans of La Academia.
I’m not sure who this is, except that it’s not Cárdenas (or if it is, he’s talking about himself in the third person. But here’s the goal, and what the old man says about it is translated below.
‘A lot of friction, a lot of arguments, a very aerial game… the only thing nice about the final was the goal, a spectacular goal that went right in the top corner and that was huge for Argentina. The goal for Racing, Cárdenas’s goal. It was the nicest thing of any of the matches.’
Photo stolen from elgrafico.com