Is Di Maria Worth It?

It has been one point shy of a nightmare start for Louis Van Gaal in the premier league. Following a lackluster defeat to Swansea at home, Manchester United bagged a point in week two away to Sunderland. Things cannot get much worse for the Dutchman, but with the addition of Marcos Rojo, and the imminent signing of Angel Di Maria, things are looking to improve.

It is widely believed that Angel Di Maria will be unveiled as a Manchester United player Tuesday morning, having completed his move to Old Trafford for a fee in the region of 60 million pounds.

This will break the English transfer record by 10 million pounds, so one has to wonder if Di Maria is worth the fee. However, the way things are going at Manchester United right now, it’s a given that the club will have to overpay players of Di Maria’s pedigree to join.

The 130,000 pound-per-week wage package given to Luke Shaw was heavily criticized by Jose Mourinho of all people. These comments mean a lot coming from «The Special One», who has spent more than any manager in the world since 2004 (now over 900 million euros) and would be better suited for the title «The Spending One.»

Part dig at a rival club, and part truth, this accusation that United are overpaying for Luke Shaw is completely spot-on. Mourinho justifies this by saying a deal that large for a 19 year old would derail morale amongst the older players, but United would not have the youngster had they not stumped up that amount of money.

United are not in a position of leverage right now as they had been for decades under Alex Ferguson. Liverpool are exiting their own era in which they had to overpay for players, while United are taking their turn dealing with the cruel nature of the transfer market. Coming off a seventh-place finish in the league and no Champions League football to show for it, United are in the precarious position of being forced to pay top dollar for everything.

Di Maria is no exception to this, but even so, the fee is very, very steep. Paris Saint Germain were priced out of a deal for Di Maria a month ago, so Van Gaal must be beyond impressed by the Argentine to shell out this much cash for him.

Di Maria showed his worth to Argentina in the World Cup, and was awarded man of the match in the UEFA Champions League Final against Atletico Madrid. His pace is unquestionable, and although he has shortcomings defensively, Van Gaal will accommodate these with the team he puts on the field.

However, it remains to be seen if Di Maria can be ‘the man’ for a team. For Argentina, he always plays off of Lionel Messi, while Madrid have their own fair share of world-beaters to grab headlines. Stepping out from under the shadow of these players will be a big step in the career of the Argentine.

Di Maria impressed me greatly last season when he still managed a spectacular year with the arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham. The Argentine played more through the middle than he had in years past and was a catalyst for both club and country with a more free role.

If Di Maria can handle the rockstar-type media attention that will hover over him like a dark cloud, he could very well justify the 60 million pounds United are paying for his services. Earlier in the summer, Di Maria turned down a lucrative contract extension, and given the arrival of James and the presence of Bale, it’s no surprise he has moved on.

Coming off Champions League glory in Lisbon and a silver medal in Brazil, Di Maria easily could have signed a bigger deal and sat around in Madrid likely surrounding time to the likes of Isco, Modric, and James. The winger’s desire is on full display right now; he has left the Galacticos in favor of spearheading a rebuilding project.

The Argentine is stepping out from the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo and taking it upon himself to be ‘the man’ at Old Trafford. In fact, it is rumored that Ronaldo had to do with Di Maria’s decision to join United. It would be poetically just if the Argentine brought back the same flair that has been missing from Old Trafford since Ronaldo left.

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Tips For Buying Soccer Cleats That Will Last Longer

If you are an aspiring player, you may have made a few trips to your local market for buying your favorite pair of soccer cleats. At times, players end up with a pair of cleats that fall apart within a couple of months of purchase. There is no doubt that it's frustrating, but it happens often. To simplify your selection, here are a few tips from experts.

1. The Lifespan of Soccer Cleats

If you buy a high quality pair, it may last an entire season. On the other hand, if you are buying a pair for your son or daughter for training, you are looking at a shorter lifespan. In this case, you should buy them two pairs: one for training and the other for the real game. This may cost a bit more money, but will save you a lot for the long haul.

As far as lifespan goes, mid tier cleats will offer a longer lifespan since they are made from stronger material. Therefore, they don't get damaged due to regular use, which makes them one of the best options for soccer.

2. The Choice of Professional Players

If you really want to go to the next level, we suggest that you invest in a high quality pair, especially a pair that professional player would like to buy. While you can buy the boots that your favorite national soccer player wore, you should do it only after you have considered a few things.

Usually, soccer cleats worn by national players are lighter, which means the cleats are not as durable as they should be. As a result, their boots may encounter tears within a few days or months. But they are offered new pairs right away since they are national players. But you won't have that luxury. So, you should consider this fact before going for a lighter pair of cleats.

3. The High-end Cleats

The price of high-end soccer cleats may be around $ 200 since they are designed with lighter and more durable stuff. On the other hand, mid tier cleats are priced around $ 120. Primarily, these are conservative cleats allowing players to give steady performance.

Note: Make sure you evaluate your other needs as well before spending a big sum on your expensive soccer cleats. This purchase shouldn't disturb your entire budget for the month.

4. Why The lightweight boots

Nowadays, the goal of almost all brands is to launch the next best thing. What they want is to launch cleats that are faster and lighter. For a long time, the focus was on the durability factor. However, the demand has changed. Nowadays, the national players want boots that would help them give their best performance. As a result, most brands have been making boots that are the lightest. And they are expensive too.

So, these are some simple tips for you if you are in search of a pair of soccer cleats that will last longer. Make sure you consider this article before investing in a good pair for your sports needs.

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Lolo Fernandez: A Footballing Genius – A Biography

Lolo Fernandez: One of Latin America’s Most Popular Footballers

Throughout his 12-year career with the Peruvian side, between 1935 and 1947, Lolo Fernández was not a World Cup player such as Obdulio Varela of Uruguay and Brazil’s Leonidas da Silva. Despite all this, he is still an inspirational leader in the history of Peru’s soccer. On the field, he did a lot to stimulate the men’s football in all of the country, one of the most soccer-crazed places on the planet. He was very popular in the outback of Peru, from Trujillo and Ica to Puno and Cajamarca. His passion for his homeland was reflected in all facets of his life.

He began to play soccer before it was a professional sport on Peruvian soil. Football — the world’s most popular sport— was imported by Britain’s expatriates in the second half of the 19th century and is known as Peru’s national pastime.

The oldest and most powerful of three soccer-playing Fernández brothers, he — known affectionately as «Lolo»— is considered as one of the country’s greatest athletes of all time, along with Edwin Vásquez Cam (Olympic gold medalist at the 1948 London Summer Games), Cecilia Tait Villacorta (among the world’s top volleyball players in the past century), Juan Carlos «Johnny» Bello (winner of 12 Bolivarian titles in the early 1970s), and Gabriela «Gaby» Pérez del Solar (silver medal in women’s volleyball at the 1988 South Korea Games).

During Fernández’s tenure with the national side, the Andean republic gained one South American Cup (1939) and one Bolivarian Championship (1938). At the club level, he earned the Peruvian League Cup — nationwide competition— six times with his club Universitario de Deportes, having scored a club-record of 157 goals — a record that remains unique. Also, he was the top goal-scorer in the country’s top division of football teams in 1932 (11 goals), 1933 (9), 1934 (9), 1939 (15), 1940 (15), 1942 (11), and 1945 (16). Additionally, he is one of best-known Peruvians Olympians of all time. He holds the distinction of being the first (and only) top player from that nation to compete in the modern Olympiad.

Peru’s First Genuine Top-Class Athlete

Since then, the apex of his career came in the late 1930s when he was the hero of Peru’s South American Football Confederation Cup win, putting the Peruvian flag on the sporting map and making him one of the most exciting players in the game. A Lolo Fernández-inspired Peru defeated Uruguay in the gold-medal match, a surprise to most fans and sportswriters on the American mainland (Campomar, 2014, Penguin). He had been called up by England’s coach Jack Greenwell. Before the championship, Peru’s sportsmen had never won a continental trophy (equivalent of the European Cup). Previously, this Cañete-born footballer was a member of the 1936 Peruvian Olympic football team, which competed in the Berlin Olympics. Curiously, Western Europe was the first continent to recognize Fernández’s talent. Although his homeland’s squad succumbed in a controversial game against Austria (a match they should have won) during the Men’s Olympic Games Soccer Tournament— the unofficial world cup of soccer at that time— he was regarded as one of the South America’s most celebrated sportsmen (Hilton, 2011).

Back in Peru, he led his own «soccer revolution» in Universitario de Deportes, winning many top division cups, setting off a wave of explosive emotion in Lima, the nation’s capital. In fact, he was one of the first superstars of that club. The national squad and his club had been his first loves. He could have played abroad, but decided to play for the Peruvian side and the Limean club, one of the nation’s premier clubs (Newton, 2011).

In fact, Lolo Fernández was Peru’s first genuine top-class sportsman in the world of sports in a time when some Spanish-speaking republics began to produce world-famous competitors. Already, in 1928, Argentina’s fighter Victorio Avendaño had caught the public’s attention with his Olympic gold medal in the Games of the IX Olympiad in Holland’s capital city of Amsterdam (Grasso, 2013). Two years later, the Soccer World Cup was won by the host country Uruguay— called the Celeste. Meanwhile, the men’s shooting contingent of Brazil picked up a total of three medals at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics in tiny Belgium (Almanaque Mundial, 1976). On the other hand, on March 19, 1938, four Ecuadorans — Ricardo Planas, Carlos Luis Gilbert, Luis Alcivar Elizalde and Abel Gilbert— swept the gold medals at the Swimming South American Tournament (Almanaque Guayaquil, 2003).

The Life and Times of Lolo Fernández

Teodoro Oswaldo Fernández Meyzán was born on May 20, 1913 in San Vicente, Cañete, near Lima, Peru’s capital. He was the seventh of eight children born to Tomas Fernández Cisneros, a farm administrator, and his wife, the former Raymunda Meyzan.

Cañete covers an area of 4,577 km2 — the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut. It lies around 140 km from Lima. This Connecticut-size territory is blessed with a fertile land and is well-recognized for its African-Peruvian culture, cuisine, fruits and birthplace of notable people such as Héctor Chumpitaz (footballer), Caitro Soto (musician), Enrique Verastegui (writer), and Rolando Campos (singer).

Fernández spent his early childhood on a farm in Cañete. Like many Peruvian children, he became fascinated with the game of soccer at an early age. But not everyone applauded that passion, among them his father.

He invested his life in this sport since he played for his hometown club Huracán of Hualcará in the early 1920s. The then little-known player was the first to arrive to the stadium and the last to leave. In his land, he trained with a lot of intensity. The exercise and fresh air made him feel better.

During his first appearance, he led his club to a victory over Alianza San Vicente in a local event in his native Cañete. His debut could not have been better: he scored the winning goal. The date was August 30, 1923. On that occasion, his play (without being paid a salary) impressed his team-mates early on. He was celebrated throughout Cañete, whose people are addicted to football and other Olympic sports as canoeing, boxing, and track-and-field.

Toward the end of the 1920s, he was allowed to leave his home and went to Lima to live with his elder brother, Arturo Fernández, who had played for Universitario de Deportes after being a member of Ciclista Lima. In this context, Lolo, as he was more often known, was introduced to Universitario by Arturo.

In the Peruvian place, his personal life underwent some significant changes. Unanimously elected player by the club’s chairman Placido Galindo, Fernández signed a contract for 120 soles a month. Relations between he and his new club were excellent and friendly since that day.

He kicked off his career with the Lima-based club when he made his official debut on November 29, 1931 during a friendly match against Deportes Magallanes of Chile. Some young athletes would have been intimidated in such situation, but not Lolo. The Lima-based club, with a young side, was the winner. The Peruvian victory was due largely to Fernández’s leadership. He scored the winner against Magallanes in a 1-0 win. Gradually, his talent was recognized by experts, coaches, and sportswriters in his homeland country. As a player, he was without peer in his generation.

An Athlete In Troubled Times

Like many Latino champions such as Alberto Spencer of Ecuador (football),Mateo Flores of Guatemala (track-and-field) and Chino Meléndez of Nicaragua (baseball), Lolo Fernández lived in a country plagued by political violence, poverty, and economic difficulties. Despite these hurdles, he emerged as one of Latin America’s top athletes in the first half of the 20th century.

In the 1930s, his native country had a record of short-lived governments and eight conservative rulers. By 1933, Peru’s military warlord Luis Sánchez Cerro was killed. At the same time, opposition-led demonstrations broke out in Lima in response to an electoral defeat (Loveman, 1999).

During the global financial crisis, the economy fell into chaos, which was vulnerable due to the nation’s dependence on minerals and agricultural products.

Due to these and other reasons, the country’s sport activities had been all but ignored by the governments. Under this atmosphere, Peru was one of the last countries to make its international debut in the Football South American Championship (known as the Copa America later), having competed for the first in the XI Cup in 1927.Similarly, their athletes could not attend the Summer Olympics between 1900 and 1932. But that wasn’t all. Upon competing in Great Britain in 1948, this Spanish-speaking republic did not have Olympic representation until 1956, despite having Pan American gold medalists —among them Julia Sánchez Deza and Edwin Vásquez— and continental champs.

Western Europe: From Spain to Great Britain

As guests of honor, Fernández and other players from Universitario played for Alianza Lima during a tour of Chile in 1933, accumulating wins over Colo Colo, Audax Italiano, Magallanes, and Wanderers. Lolo also played as a special guest for some foreign clubs such Racing Club,Club Atlético Banfield, and Colo Colo.

Between 1933 and 1934, Fernández went as a member of a Peruvian-Chilean contingent —composed of sportsmen from Alianza Lima, Colo Colo, Atlético Chalaco and Universitario– to Western Europe, where he played 33 men’s football matches (compiling 11 wins, 11 draws and 11 losses) against first-class squads from Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom, including Bayern Munich, Newcastle and Barcelona— his first time outside of Latin America (Witzig, 2006). Here, he earned the respect of fans and rivals. Lolo’s performance on the European tour was spectacular: despite his lack of international experience, he accumulated a record of 48 goals!

Berlin: 1936 Summer Olympics

After many obstacles, the Peruvian Olympic team, that included future South American champion Lolo, made a brief but historic trip to Germany to attend the 1936 Summer Games. It was the first time in Olympic history that Peru had sent an athletic contingent to the Summer Games. The nation’s sports officials brought an all-male team to Berlin, with Peruvians competing in aquatics, athletics, diving, basketball, cycling, fencing, modern pentathlon, shooting, and soccer.

There were 22 soccer players and they were Juan Valdivieso Padilla, Alejandro Villanueva, José Morales, Adelfo Magallanes, Víctor Lavalle, Enrique Landa, Eulogio García, Carlos Tovar, Orestes Jordán, Teodoro Fernández, Arturo Fernández, Andrés Alvarez, Arturo Paredes, Segundo Castillo, Teodoro Alcalde, Jorge Alcalde, Miguel Pacheco, Carlos Portal, Raúl Chappel, Pedro Ibañez, Guillermo Pardo, and Víctor Marchena. These players made up the country’s largest delegation in Berlin.

The Lolo’s squad was the first Peruvian team in the Olympic team sports history. Scoring five goals in a 7-2 victory over the Nordic nation of Finland, Fernández played one of his most memorable matches (Campomar, 2014). Without a doubt, he was a genius on the field. Subsequently, they beat Austria (it expected to finish in the top four in these Games). But it wasn’t a clear-cut victory for the Latin American republic (Witzig, 2006).

In the second time, Peru came back and won its match 4-2 after losing to Austria 2-0 in the first time in one of the most controversial games in the history of football (Mandell, 1971). Nonetheless, the Austrian delegation refused to recognize this triumph (Risolo, 2010). They said that Europe’s footballers were threatened by Peru’s attackers during the Olympic match (Murray & Murray, 1998).

Under pressure from Austria, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) pledged to hold other match (Campomar, 2014).

But the Peruvian dictatorship didn’t allow their countrymen to compete again. In an attempt to try to gain popularity within Peru, the nation’s strongman Oscar Raimundo Benavides forced the Peruvian Olympic Committee to agree to withdraw its delegation from the 1936 Berlin Games (Walters, 2012). Despite everything, Fernández was the second top scorer in the Olympic tournament with five goals, alongside Norway’s sportsman Arne Brustad. A year earlier, Lolo earned his first cap for Peru.

The tournament was won by Italy and was followed by Austria (silver medal), Poland (bronze), Norway (4th), Great Britain (5th),Germany (6th), Peru (7th), Japan (8th), Sweden (9th), USA (10th), Taiwan (11th), Egypt (12th), Hungary (13th), Turkey (14th), Finland (15th) and Luxembourg (last).

When the Olympian delegation arrived back in Lima, they were declared «national heroes» (El Comercio, 2009). In the next year, he married Elvira Fernández Meyer and had two children: Marina and Teodoro.

Lolo and the First Bolivarian Games

Despite missing the XI Olympiad in the German capital of Berlin, Fernández worked relentlessly to take part in the Olympic-type Bolivarian Games. The First Bolivarian Sports Games (one of the oldest multi-sport games of its kind) were held in Colombia’s capital of Bogota in 1938. At that year, all Limeans were anxious to see a national victory. Fortunately, there were good news. Fernández captained the Bolivarian winners by capturing the gold medal, providing a moment of enjoy for Peru’s population.

The 1938 men’s squad was the heavy gold medal favorite on Colombian soil. The victory was scored over squads from Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and the host nation. This accomplishment was greater than any previously achieved by the national squads. Ecuador was bronze and Bolivia won the silver medal.

Before and after the event, Fernández —his first international title outside his own land— brought his energy and passion to the national team.

Peru kicked off its campaign at Bogota’s Universitario Stadium,on August 8, when they beat Colombia 4-2 with goals of Pedro Ibañez (2), Lolo (1) and Teodoro Alcalde (1). In its second Bolivarian match, the Andean country slaughtered Ecuador 9-1 in a spectacular show of football— biggest margin of victory in the history of Peru’s soccer team. The best player was Alcalde (4 goals). On August 14, Peru blanked Bolivia 3-0. Lolo was the pivot of that game with two goals. This remarkable athlete knew what he needed to do to win the match.

On August 17,Venezuela was eliminated from the Games after losing to Peru 2-1. Before the Peruvian delegation left the stadium, they received a standing ovation.

Why one of Latin America’s Greatest Players Never Play in the FIFA World Cup?

Among Latin America’s greatest players during the first half of the 20th century, Fernández was the only one never to have appeared in a World Cup. There are different reasons why he could not compete in the global sporting event in the late 1930s and the 1940s. In 1938, the III World Cup was overshadowed by an Argentina-led boycott that was followed by almost all South American republics ( Reyna & Woitalla,2004). Officially, Peru did not participate in the international boycott, but it declined to send a delegation. SA boycotted that Cup in response to «Eurocentric policy» of FIFA. Europeans had hosted the last event and the next was scheduled to be held in France in that year. In the following decade, the world of sports was hard hit by World War II and the international events were canceled.

Lima: 1939 South American Championship

The year of 1939 saw a new hero in Latin America’s sport. A son of Cañete attracted admiration when he led Peru to win the (XV) South American Championship for the first time following a win against Uruguay, one of the powerhouses in the world of football since the 1910s. Four years ago, the national side failed to make the semis in the regional event at home. In 1937, Peru finished at the bottom of the six-team tournament.

The 1939 national side claimed the first place to defeat Uruguay 2-1 in the finals. It was a proud day for Peru. The country, under British coach Greenwell was a home grown champion (Campomar, 2014, Penguin). On paper, Uruguay’s background made it a strong opponent —three World Championships from 1924 to 1930, including two golds in the modern Olympics.

It was gratifying to see the progress that had made the national side, who were underdogs from the start. Thanks to this win, Peru became the four nation in the continent to win that event (after Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina), well ahead of Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Paraguay.

Fernández was the hero in the Continental Cup on his home soil— his second major international trophy. As well as winning the Most Valuable Player trophy, the Cañete-born striker was the top scorer.

The continental winners were Juan Humberto Valdivieso, Jorge Alcalde, Carlos Tovar, Teodoro Alcalde, César Socarraz, Alberto Baldovino, Pedro Reyes, Víctor Bielich, Juan Quispe, Segundo Castillo, Enrique Perales, Raúl Chapel, Pablo Pasache, Lolo Fernández, Adolfo Magallanes, Jorge Parró, Juan Honores, Pedro Ibañez, Arturo Fernández, Arturo Paredes, Rafael León and Feder Larios.

South American Championships

Back in the 1940s, Fernández, who was nicknamed «the Cannoneer» by the local media due to his aggressive style of play, was member of Peru’s national squad that competed in three South American championships. But he was less successful in these competitions.

Between February 2 and March 4, 1941, the Peruvian contingent participated in the international competition in Santiago (Chile). It was recognized as the unofficial SA Cup. Peru’s 22-man roster included: Gerardo Arce, Manuel Vallejos, Vicente Arce, César Socarraz, Teodoro Fernández, Juan Quispe, Alejandro González, Leopoldo Quiñones, Juan Honores, Carlos Portal, Marcial Hurtado, Enrique Perales, Guillermo Janneau, Roberto Morales, Orestes Jordán, Pedro Magán, Adolfo Magallanes, Máximo Lobatón, and Pedro Luna.

The men’s football tournament was marked by the presence of top-class athletes such as Lolo of Peru, Obdulio Varela of Uruguay, Sergio Livingstone from Chile, and Juan Andrés Marvezzi of Argentina.

The Bolivarian champions didn’t bring home any medals, but Fernández scored three goals and was ranked second to Marvezzi as the tournament’s most prolific scorer (sharing the honor with José Manuel Moreno from Argentina). His homeland’s squad placed fourth in the overall classification, ahead of Ecuador,in the five-team tournament, an event sponsored by the Chilean rule.

On February 9, the Peruvians were defeated by the host nation by a narrow margin (1-0). Shortly thereafter, Argentina won its match against Peru 2-1. The Argentine team was a powerful squad in the Americas and had gained two awards in 1937: The Soccer Pan American Cup in Dallas, Texas (U.S) and SA tournament (as a host country). On February 23, the squad’s star striker Lolo eliminated Ecuador 4-0 and obtained their first points. Fernández scored three goals. Three days later, his homeland’s team, however, could not win their last game. Uruguay won 2-0.The win helped avenge Uruguay’s 1939 loss to Peru.

By 1942, Fernández departed for Uruguay to attend the Latin American tournament (between January 10 and February 7), a year where Brazil was awarded the 1942 World Cup, but the event was cancelled. The men’s soccer of Peru placed a disappointing fifth on Uruguayan soil. The national side was represented by 22 players: Juan Quispe, Antonio Zegarra, Diego Agurto, Juan Soriano, Antonio Biffi, Leopoldo Quiñones, Alberto Delgado, Carlos Portal, Lolo Fernández, Enrique Perales, Luis Guzmán, Pablo Pasache, Teobaldo Guzmán, Tulio Obando, Juan Honores, Roberto Morales, Marcial Hurtado, Pedro Magán, Orestes Jordán, Adolfo Magallanes, Máximo Lobatón, and Pedro Luna.

Following an opening draw with Paraguay (1-1) at the XVIII South American Cup on January 18, Peru suffered defeats against Brazil (2-1) and Argentina (3-1).Over that time, the Brazilian side was a strong rival with a bronze medal in the 1938 global event after his international star Leonidas da Silva (known as the «Black Diamond») led Brazil to its first wins in a World Cup.

On January 28, the Peruvians dispatched Ecuador 2-1 at Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium, which is the nation’s symbol of sport. In the next days, they had drawn 0-0 with Chile after a 3-0 loss to Uruguay in the 65,000-seater Centenario Stadium, one of the most famous of all soccer stadiums around the globe. The Celeste Spanish for sky blue due to the color of squad’s shirt— was all but unbeatable and it was seven-time winner of the SA Cup (1916, 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926 & 1935) (Guevara & Chaname, 1998).

Lolo and his fellow sportsmen did not return to the regional championships until 1947. The Andean republic missed the next two international competitions (1945 & 1946).

In 1947, the Peruvian Soccer Federation sent a Lolo Fernández-led team to Guayaquil (Ecuador) to participate in the international meet. He and his fellow countrymen had drawn with Paraguay (2-2) and Ecuador (0-0), but there were two losses to Chile (2-1) and Argentina (3-2).

In front of over 20,000 persons, on December 20, 1947, Fernández played his last match on foreign soil at Guayaquil’s George Capwell when Peru made a tie of 0-0 with the host nation. He was on Peru’s South American Cup roster at the age of 34. Later on, Colombia —gold in men’s football at the 1946 Central American and Caribbean Games— was outclassed by a Peruvian side without its star Lolo (5-1).

In the 8-team tournament, the men’s side ranked fifth, behind Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay,and Chile. The country’s roster included 22 athletes: Guillermo Valdivieso, Rafael Asca, Carlos Torres, Guillermo Barbadillo, Luis Suárez, Félix Castillo, René Rosasco, Juan Castillo, Marín Reyna, Andrés da Silva, Domingo Raffo, Lolo Fernández, Enrique Perales, Carlos Gómez Sánchez, Lorenzo Pacheco, Máximo Mosquera, Alejandro González, Ernesto Morales, Luis Guzmán, Eliseo Morales, Cornelio Heredia, and Valeriano López.

In the wake of participating on Ecuadoran soil, Fernández no longer competed in the continental events.

Six National Championships From 1934 to 1949

Before embarking on a seven-month tour of Europe, Fernández was the most outstanding player in the 1932 National Cup with 11 goals. But that wasn’t enough to win the event. A total of eight clubs sent delegations: Alianza Lima, Sports Tabaco, Ciclista Lima, Sportive Union, Sport Progreso, Tarapacá Ferrocarril, Circolo Sportivo Italiano and Universitario.

Soccer became a national level when the domestic tournament began in the 1920s, making it one of the oldest events in the history of Peruvian sport.

By 1933, Universitario’s amateur side again made the final, but was runner-up and their star was top scorer for the second time in a row. Despite the loss, he had captured the attention of the spectators as no other sportsman when he produced nine goals in the men’s football national league.

After winning experience in European countries, Fernández and his fellow Peruvian athletes moved back to Lima to attend the 1934 domestic league. The youthful Universitario side reached the podium in the country’s top soccer division (Almanaque Mundial, 1977). Alianza Lima was extraordinary beaten by the Limean squad, beginning one of South America’s greatest derbies. AL and Lolo’s club are arch rivals and matches between two clubs are referred to as «El Clásico» (Newton, 2011). During that year, Fernández began to make a name for himself in the history of Peru’s football as he was the tournament’s top scorer.

The 1935 event was an event with five soccer clubs. It produced a surprise winner: Sport Boys. Fernández’s squad placed third.

By 1938, Universitario won the bronze medal. In the next year, the Limean side became one of the first clubs of Peru to appoint a foreign manager: Jack Greenwell of the United Kingdom. Under Geenwel’s guidance, Fernández and his fellow mates earned the national football league title with nine wins, three draws and two losses —improving on their third place finish in the past cup (Almanaque Mundial, 1977). Extraordinary, the Cañete-born athlete was the tournament’s dominant player in 1939 (Witzig, 2006).

In the wake of Fernández’s participation in the South American Cup, Universitario came close to a second successive tournament in 1940.

In 1941, the Lima-based club obtained the Peruvian trophy, after a series of home-and-home soccer matches. The Limean squad showed why it was one of the most powerful clubs on home soil. In the finals, there were wins over Atlético Chalaco (1-0) and Alianza Lima (3-1). The championship had been postponed for a while because of Peru’s participation in the South American Cup.

In the mid-1940s, Universitario came the attention when they won back-to-back national championships (Witzig, 2006). After breaking his own personal record of 15 goals in 1939, Lolo picked up a total of 16 goals in 1945. Curiously, these titles can be attributed to the Fernández family: Arturo, Eduardo and Lolo were members of that team.

Assembling one of the most powerful teams in the history of Peru’s football, Lima’s club earned the trophy in 1946. The key to the Peruvian club was the trio of Victor Espinoza, Eduardo and Lolo Fernández. Under a new system of qualifying matches, the Limean side obtained 11 wins.

Toward the end of his career, Lolo and his club recaptured the trophy: it defeated Atlético Chalaco 4-3 to claim the first place in the Peruvian Championship in 1949 (Almanaque Mundial, 1977). In that year, the club celebrated its 25th anniversary.

A Universitario Icon

In contrast to players from other parts of the world, Fernández was not an international player, being one of the few footballers who had stayed with one club (Universitario) his entire athletic career despite several offers from top clubs (including Racing club of Argentina, Peñarol of Uruguay and Colo Colo of Chile). He refused, citing his strong connections to Universitario. This club is one of the most-supported squads in Peru. Curiously, Lolo remains Universitario’s all-time goalscorer with 157 goals.

Fernández, at the age of 40, retired from the world of soccer in the early 1950s during a series of exhibition matches in a stadium built by the country’s head of state Manuel Odría. On August, 30, 1953, his team had a sensational victory over his traditional rival Alianza Lima (4-2). Here, Lolo scored a hat-trick, among the most notable of his more than 157 goals during his career with the Lima-based club.

Before an audience of some 30,000 spectators, Fernández played only six minutes with Universitario during a game against Centro Iqueño, the darkest day for Peru’s football. His presence was symbolic in a memorable event at Lima’s national stadium. He left the national stadium to a roaring ovation.

After retiring from soccer, he worked mostly with top junior soccer teams from Universitario.

After a battle with Alzheimer, on September 17, 1996, Lolo Fernández died in a Lima hospital at the age of 83. It was a great loss to South America’s sport.

Rivaled only by Teófilo Cubillas, he has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards both within and outside Peru, including a museum. The country’s legendary Olympian was immortalized by Lorenzo Humberto Soto Mayor, who wrote a song entitle «Lolo Fernández», a tribute to the Peruvian footballer. On October 27, 1952, the country’s ruler Odría conferred him the Sports Laurels, the highest sports award of Peru. In the early 1950s, the Universitario stadium was renamed in his honor (Witzig, 2006). Within Latin America, several sports-oriented magazines and Spanish-language newspapers have devoted many pages to Lolo.

Lolo Fernández died in the mid-1990s, but the legacy of this Olympic carries on. He was so advanced for his time and place. A man that always worked with love for his homeland country of Peru and a personal hero of mine.

Further Reading

(1)- Almanaque Deportivo Mundial 1977, Editorial América, Ciudad de Panamá, 1976 (Spanish)

(2)- Almanaque Deportivo Mundial 1976, Editorial América, Ciudad de Panamá, 1975 (Spanish)

(3)- Almanaque Guayaquil Total 2003, Editarsa, Guayaquil, 2002 (Spanish)

(4)- Campomar, Andreas. ¡Golazo!: A History of Latin American Football, Quercus, 2014

(5)- —————- Golazo!: The Beautiful Game From the Aztecs to the World Cup: The Complete History of How Soccer Shaped Latin America, Penguin, 2014

(6)- Dunmore, Tom. Historical Dictionary of Soccer, Scarecrow Press, 2011

(7)- «Fuimos Heroes». 170 Años Suplemento Especial, El Comercio, 4 de mayo del 2009 (Spanish)

(8)- Grasso, John. Historical Dictionary of Boxing, Scarecrow Press, 2013

(9)- Guevara Onofre, Alejandro & Chaname Orbe, Raúl. Enciclopedia Mundototal 1999, Editorial San Marcos, 1998 (Spanish)

(10)- Hill, Christopher. Hitler’s Olympics: The Berlin Olympic Games,The History Press, 2011

(11)- Loveman, Brian. For la Patria: Politics and the Armed Forces in Latin America, Rowman & Littlefield, 1999

(12)- Mandell, Richard D. The Nazi Olympics, University of Illinois Press, 1971

(13)- Murray, Bill & Murray, William. The World’s Game. A History of Soccer, University of Illinois Press, 1998

(14)- Newton, Paula. Viva Travel Guides Machu Picchu and Cusco, Viva Publishing Network, 2011

(15)- Parrish, Charles & Nauright, John. Soccer Around the World, ABC-CLIO, 2014

(16)- Risolo, Donn. Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore, and Amazing Feats, University of Nebraska, 2010

(17)- Reyna, Claudio & Woitalla, Michael. More Than Goals: The Journey From Backyard Games To World Cup Competition, Human Kinetics, 2004

(18)- Walters, Guy. Berlin Games: How Hitler Stole the Olympic Dream, Hachette UK, 2012

(19)- Witzig, Richard. The Global Art of Soccer, CusiBoy Publishing, 2006

6 Reasons Why Pele Was Better Than Maradona

Prelude

The Pele versus Maradona debate has been on for some time. The intensity of the debt is such that it generates at least 50,000 online search queries per month.

Acting as the backdrop for what in all actuality is an over – hyped debate is the apparent rivalry that has developed between the two legends concerned, who now seems to be aiming at proving their superior one over the other long after they might still have had a genuine opportunity to do so where it matters most, on the field of play.

The exaggerated profile of Pele vs Maradona stems to a large extent from the unwillingness of soccer opinion leaders (both real and self deluded) to kill the matter naturally by respecting facts that would give each of these two generous athletes their due respect without calling for unavoidably subjective comparisons.

In a field performing only the likes of Di Stefano, George Best, Cruyff, Platini and so on, to be considered one of the best 2 of all time one has effectively become immortal in history of the sport. Indeed, the physical and tactical barriers that today's, and certainly tomorrow's football puts in the way of attempts at super – exceptional individual football performances means that probably no player will come close to appearing as individually outstanding as Edson Arantes De Nascimento and Diego Armando Maradona were each able to. Today's football makes it so near impossible for an exceptional individual playing for an ordinary team to exceed an exceptional team made up of ordinary individuals. The experience of Lionel Messi, currently recognized by FIFA as the best footballer in the world, playing against a Jose Mourinho inspired Inter Milan, is the nearest example to note. It appears that for even the very talented footballers to shine in today's football, they must be playing for above average teams. That neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo has so far been able to achieve great success with their national teams is another pointer.

The subject of this article must be served with facts known to those who really know football. The facts that make Pele a more prominent super legend than Maradona must be pointed out, not to fan the flames of controversy, but because they equip soccer with the values ​​that are necessary for it's continued dominance as the world's number one sport.

The facts now follow:

1. UNLIKE MARADONA, PELE WAS EXCELLENT BOTH OFFENSIVELY AND DEFENSIVELY!

It is confirmed that Pele was the unofficial second goalkeeper for his club Santos when the first choice keeper was unavailable. In addition, those who know Pele assert that he could have excelled in any football position he chose. Pele was gifted with exceptional tackling skills for an attacking player. Pele's super fitness, particularly reflected in astounding aerial performances, certainly made him more adaptable to a defensive role than Maradona was.

Of particular note is that Pele excelled in EVERY attacking football department: Shooting (powerful, with both legs), dribbling, heading, passing, feinting.

Diego Maradona, on the other hand, was best known for his super sublime dribbling and passing skills. In is in these departments that he could lay some claim to superiority over Pele, that is, if we ignore the reality that Pele would have done a lot more dribbling if he felt that was what he needed to win matches. Pele was certainly also fantastic at dribbling and passing, but only to the extent of what was necessary to score goals.

That Pele was a two legged player would also naturally give him an edge over Maradona in the dribbling department. Pele's dribbling style was unique in that he appeared to beat players not just with his legs but with his arms which moved in a unique style by his side whenever he was trying to beat an opponent.

The facts show that Pele was a far more versatile player than Diego Maradona was.

2. PELE'S ASTONISHING GOAL SCORING STATS MARK HIM OUT AS THE GREATEST ATTACKING PLAYER OF ALL TIME.

According to FIFA.Com, Pele scored 1281 goals in 1,363 games. If, as some say, the statistic is overrated due to what they consider the low quality of some teams he played against, it should be pointed out that the amazing stats is not the same as the rate over a high number of games. He scored at least 5 goals at at least 6 occasions, 4 goals on 30 occasions, and hat tricks on 92 occasions. If his goals statistics in the world cup matches he played are anything to go by, it is reasonable to suggest that Pele would be the all time leading world cup goal scorer was it not for the matches he missed due to injuries he sustained during the 1962 and 1966 world cups.

Diego Maradona's goal scoring stats on match simply do not match up to Pele's.

Pele is clearly the greatest goal scorer and attacking player of all time, and the stats only confirm this. An examination of his athleticism, skill, versatility, mental strength and focus could be the only rational explanation for his goal scoring rate. Indeed, a lower scoring record would simply have done him no justice whatever.

3. PELE WON 3 WORLD CUPS WITHOUT CONTROVERSY, UNLIKE MARADONA.

A large part of Diego Maradona's legend derives from his magnificent achievements at the 1986 world cup, where he was without doubt the leading star, both for the right and wrong reasons. Maradona's dribble run against England in 1986 in Mexico is rightly considered probably the best world cup goal of all time. His goal against Belgium in the following match is considered one of the best 5 goals ever.

All the above noted, however, and soccer being the cruel sport it sometimes is for the unlucky, Maradona came reasonably close to not having a world cup to his name.

For those who watched Argentina's quarter final match against England at that tournament, they may recall that the English team was of significant quality, possessing Gary Lineker (historical tournament highest scorer), Peter Shilton, John Barnes, Glen Hoddle, and managed by the legendary Bobby Robson. Indeed, save for Maradona, the Argentine team were at least slightly inferior to the English. After pulling a goal back in the 80th minute through Lineker to make the score 1-2, the English were something on the ascendancy.

Had Maradona's clear handball goal not been awarded earlier, the scoreline would have all probability have been 1 -1 by the end of regulation time. Afterall, in the previous match, with Maradona playing, Argentina had only been able to score one legitimate goal against Uruguay.

Had this particular England – Argentina match extended to extra time, anything could have happened. Argentina could have been unlucky not to score a second legitimate goal, while England, showing great character, which often decides matches, could have scored an odd decent second goal or even gone on to win the tie by penalties.

In comparison, Pele's world cup victories were devoid of controversy. Although he only played two matches in the 1962 tournament, Brazil's historic victory could hardly have been hampered by him since he had already scored once before being injured.

4. MARADONA FAILED AT 1 WORLD CUP, UNLIKE PELE.

At the 1982 World Cup, Maradona, already considered the best player in the world at the time, was unable to prove himself a Champion. While it is true that he was harshly marked throughout the tournament, he played in all the 5 games of Argentina, yet Argentina, despite being defending champions, won 2 games and lost 3. This Argentine team contained many of the players who won the previous tournament.

Maradona ended the tournament with a Red Card against Brazil. Pele, on the other hand, was clearly one of the best 3 players in the 2 world cups in which he got to play 3 matches or more.

5. AGE OF MATURITY

Whereas Maradona was not considered mature enough for the Argentine National Team at the age of 17 in 1978, Pele was considered good enough for the Brazilian team at the same age in 1958, and more than justified the chance he was given. Maradona did not actually mature as a top level player until 1986, when he was already 25 years old.

6. PELE WAS A BETTER TACTICAL OPTION

In today's football, managers prefer players who can fit into varying roles as the need of the team and the manager's strategy may require. Surely, an offensively brilliant player who can safely be deployed in a defensive role will be extremely valuable when the team needs to avoid concurring, particularly when the team is a man down.

From every indication, Pele was more of a player who could fit into the game plan of a modern tactician.

To conclude, it is obvious that many of today's younger soccer fans never watched Pele play. This is why Maradona won FIFA's internet poll for player of the century. The Internet is a medium that can not prevent double or multiple votes by the same person. Pele, however, won a poll for Athlete of the Century by the IOC, custodian of the mighty Olympics, a competition he never participated in. The difference between the significance of the 2 awards should be quite clear to the unbiased.

ICC World Cup 2011: India, England, Head To Head In World Cups

Co-hosts India are among the favourites to win the ICC World Cup in 2011. Interestingly, England have also emerged as possible contenders following their title winning exploits at the T20 world cup earlier this year.

Let’s take a look at how the teams have fared against against each other in past world cups. The sides met for the first time at the event in its very first edition in 1975. The match was played at Lords; England won the toss and elected to bat. They piled up 334/5 in 60 overs, on the back of Dennis Amiss’s 137 supported by fifties from Fletcher and Chris Old, apart from cameos by John James and skipper Mike Denness. Fast bowler Chris Old’s fifty underlined the weakness of India’s bowling in which Ghavri gave away 83 runs in 11 overs.

India’s reply was nothing short of a mockery of the game, thanks to a baffling innings of 36 not out in 60 overs by Gavaskar, who took 174 balls to complie his runs. India finished at 132/3, and the 202 run margin of defeat stood as an ODI record for several years. Gavaskar’s innings sparked off debates as to the real motivation behind the opener’s innings.

The sides were placed in different groups in the 1979 edition and did not meet at all as India got knocked off at the group stage. Their next meeting came in the 1983 edition that India eventually won. England won the toss at Old Trafford and electing to bat managed just 213. Kapil Dev was the most successful bowler snaring three wickets and he got good assistance from Binny and Amarnath who got two each. India knocked off the runs required with more than five overs to spare, with Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil notching up fifties.

India co-hosted the next cup along with Pakistan and England and India met in the semi-finals. Once again, England got lucky with the toss and elected to bat. Graham Gooch scored a brilliant hundred as England posted a challenging 254/5 in 50 overs. Maninder Singh with three wickets was India’s most successful bowler. In reply, India collapsed to 219 all out. Azharuddin top-scored for India with 64 runs, while Eddie Hemmings took four wickets for England.

Th next world cup meeting between the sides was at Perth in 1992. England batted first once again and scored 236/9 in their 50 overs with Gooch and Smith scoring fifties. India fell short by just nine runs, despite a 63-run opening stand and a fifty by opener Ravi Shastri. For England, Dermot Reeve and Botham were among the wickets.

The two sides were in different groups in the 1996 cup hosted in the subcontinent, and with England crashing out at the group stage, they did not meet each other. Their next cup meeting was at Birmingham in 1999. India batting first managed 232/8 in 50 overs. Dravid top-scored with a fifty and was well supported by several cameos. When England batted, the Indian bowlers were equal to the task and the hosts were bowled out for 169. Ganguuly with three wickets was the most successful bowler; Srinath, Kumble and Mohanty got two each.

The last world cup encounter between the sides came in 2003 at Durban. India batting first managed 250/9 thanks to fifties by Tendulkar and Dravid. When England batted, Nehra took six wickets to send them crashing to 168 all out – an 82 run victory in which Flintoff with 64 was England’s only saving grace.

Thus, England and India are tied at three games all in world cups. With the two sides placed in the same group in the 2011 edition, their next meeting is scheduled take place on February 28, 2011 at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. Who will win that one?