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A tribute to 1930 World Cup icon 'Pancho'

  • SI.com, Tuesday, September 14, 2010 12:51 AM

Last month, the last surviving participant in the 1930 World Cup final -- Argentine forward Francisco "Pancho" Varallo -- died in his hometown of La Plata.

Born in 1910, he grew up as the sport spread through Argentina, and in addition to playing for his country he also set a Argentine league goalscoring record that stood until another Boca Juniors star, Martin Palermo, topped it last year. Palermo, also a native of La Plata, reportedly wept at Varallo's massively attended funeral.

For decades, Varallo told the anecdotes and stories of the very early days of soccer in Argentina and that first World Cup. "His hoarse voice would reel off names and moves, dates and games to journalists from all the over the world who would visit him in his home in La Plata," writes Marcela Mora y Araujo.

Varallo started playing with Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata and he felt very loyal to the club because he claimed it had saved him from military service. But he was signed for Boca on the grounds that his father "has never seen a 100 peso note!"

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