English fourth tier side Exeter City lifted silverware in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday as they played a rematch of Brazil's first ever international encounter. The minnows from southwestern England, who have never played even in the second division, played out a goalless draw with hosts Fluminense, who fielded their U-23 side at the same stadium that hosted their first encounter on 21 July, 1914.
As the visitors, Exeter, who had two goals ruled out for offside while their rivals hit the bar, were awarded the Marcos Carneiro de Mendonca Cup, named after Brazil's first goalkeeper, who also played for Fluminense. Exactly a century ago, the Brazilian authorities invited Exeter, who had been touring in Argentina, to come and play a Sao Paulo and Rio select XI and subsequently recognised the match as Brazil's first ever international.
"It's a massive honour to come over here and win the trophy. It's a very different pre-season from the ones we're used to. Usually we only play local sides," City skipper Scot Bennett told AFP as he held the trophy aloft to cheers from a 180-strong Exeter contingent.
"It's been absolutely brilliant. We proved we are a good footballing side and we must press on from here and get promotion."
Exeter lost the 1914 match 2-0. Paul Tisdale, coach of Exeter, nickname the Grecians, lamented being caught offside in the final minutes. "We had a one-on-one in the last minute that was called offside and it was never offside," said the former Southampton player, who admitted to being "bemused" by his side being handed the trophy after the stalemate.
But he added he was delighted to have participated in the game albeit from the bench. "It was a wonderful occasion - a very, very unique ground. It has to be one of the most picturesque football stadiums I've ever been to."