The football world was in mourning on Monday following the announcement of the death of Argentinian legend Francisco Varallo, the last survivor of the Final of the 1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay™. Known affectionately as Cañoncito during his playing days, Varallo had celebrated his 100th birthday last February.
After making his first division debut with Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, the Argentinian goalscorer forged his reputation as a deadly finisher with Boca Juniors and the national side. He scored a total of 190 goals for Los Xeneizes, setting a club record that was only recently surpassed by Martin Palermo. The biggest disappointment of his career, however, was that defeat to host nation Uruguay some 80 years ago.
“The news that Francisco Varallo is no longer with us fills us with great sense of loss, both for his qualities as a person and an ambassador for our beloved sport,” commented FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. “In these grief-filled moments I can take immense pride from the fact that a character such as Francisco Varallo, whom we shall never forget, represented the football family with such dignity.”
Varallo, who was only 20 when he was called up by Argentina coach Juan Tramutola to represent his country at Uruguay 1930, scored a goal against Mexico in the group phase and nearly missed out on the Final because of injury. “I tested my fitness on the morning of the game and decided to play,” he recalled years later. “I wasn’t going to miss it for anything in the world.”
Though Argentina led the Uruguayans at half-time, Varallo and his team-mates were powerless to prevent their neighbours from coming back in the second half, the hosts running out 4-2 winners. “We came up short and we lacked a little steel,” said Pancho in an interview with FIFA.com back in 2005. Five years on from that enlightening rendez-vous, the much-loved centenarian has finally taken his leave of us, taking with him a valuable piece of footballing history.