It was forty years ago…

Cárdenas fires in an historic goal

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

9 thoughts on “It was forty years ago…

  1. The man been interviewed is Humberto Maschio,
    The only world class player in the squad at the time, he had just returned from Italy to finish his carreer at Racing.
    he was the team’s brain.


  2. Gracias, Roberto. Very interesting.

    Maschio (whose name translates as “male” in Italian) played for both Inter and Fiorentina (among other Italian clubs), as well as playing a few games for Italy as part of the second wave of “oriundi” in the 50s. In fact, he was the Azzurri captain for the “Battle of Santiago” against Chile in the 1962 World Cup.

    He was also one of the “Angels with Dirty Faces”, with Sivori and Angelillo

  3. Being a Rangers fan, I’m eternally grateful that Celtic haven’t been able to sped the last 40 years crowing about a World Championship, as they have about a European one. But I must say, the memory of the matches between Celtic and Racing in Scotland, is a lot more controversial than that implied in this piece.

    It’s generally accepted in Scotland that Celtic were victims of outrageous behaviour, both before and during the matches in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and that bluntly, the team was kicked off the park. Indeed, so bad was the treatment experienced by Celtic that their chairman was all for conceding the tie and heading home, and only fulfilled the play-off at the behest of their manager, Jock Stein: given the events in Uruguay, the former course would have been wiser.

    That in 1971 and 1973 Ajax Amsterdam declined to participate in the Intercontinental Cup championship, as also Bayern Munich in 1974, is testament enough to the negative experiences of European clubs in the format of the tournament at that time (which is perhaps one of the reasons it was later changed to a one-off match in neutral territory).

    As I say, I’m glad that Celtic didn’t win this cup, but given the circumstances as to how they lost, to this day you’ll not find any Rangers fans goading them with chants of Racing.

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