Obdulio Jacinto Muiños Varela (September 20, 1917 — August 2, 1996) was an Uruguayan football player. He was the captain of the Uruguay national team that won the 1950 World Cup after beating Brazil in the decisive final round match popularly known as the Maracanazo. He was Nicknamed El Negro Jefe (The Black Chief), due to his dark skin and the influence he had on the pitch, and especially after the unlikely victory over Brazil. People recall Varela as one of the greatest classic centre halves, a midfield player equally adept in defence as in creating scoring chances.
Varela, born in Paysandú
, emerged as a centre half and senior player at Deportivo Juventud
, club which he joined in 1936. He debuted in first division with Montevideo Wanderers
In 1943, he joined C.A. Peñarol, club for which he would play until his professional retirement in 1955.
Varela's international debut came in a 3-2 win against Chile
in the 1939 Copa America
in Lima, Peru
. Varela entered the match as a substitute.
He played 45 international matches for Uruguay from 1939 to 1954, in which he scored nine goals.
1950 World Cup
The 1950 World Cup was decided over a mini-league in a final pool and Brazil only needed a draw in the last match of the tournament
to become champions. Varela drove the Uruguayan team to victory against all odds. Before the match, Varela delivered an emotional speech about how they must face all the odds and not to be intimidated by the fans or the opposing team. The speech, as was later confirmed, played a huge part in the final outcome of the game. Brazil scored the first goal of the match only two minutes after the start of the second half, which ignited the crowd. Once again, Varela played a big role when he took the ball and disputed the validity of the goal with George Reader
, the referee, arguing that the player was offside
. Varela was finally subdued, then took the ball to the center of the field, and shouted to his team, "Now, it's time to win!". Uruguay came back and scored twice to win the match and become champions in front of nearly 200.000 spectators. The win is remembered as a miracle and made Varela immortal in the eyes of the Uruguayan people.
In 1940, 1946 and 1948, the Uruguayan team led by him had won the Baron de Rio Branco Cup, and his club team Peñarol had captured the Uruguayan league championship on six occasions.
1954 World Cup
When he traveled with the national team to Switzerland
to defend the title in the 1954 FIFA World Cup
, Varela was then the oldest ever player to have appeared in a World Cup, aged 37. Nevertheless, Czechoslovakia
were beaten in the first round before Uruguay defeated England
4-2 in the quarterfinal, when Varela picked up a leg injury. There were no substitutions back then so he had to play the full 90 minutes heavily bandaged.
Varela, Oscar Miguez and Julio Abbadie did not get fit for the semifinal against Hungary. Uruguay lost 4-2 after extra time. Obdulio ended his World Cup career unbeaten in seven matches and many people believe a full strength Uruguay team would have beaten the magic Hungarians.
His last match was in June 19, 1955 with Peñarol against América
. Varela, one of the team's coaches along with Roque Maspoli
, came off the bench for the second half but when he realized he couldn't continue, he decided to end his career.
Varela died in August 2, 1996.
- FIFA World Cup winner in 1950
- Copa América winner en 1942
- Copa Baron de Rio Branco winner against Brasil in 1940, 1946, 1948
- Copa Escobar Gerona winner in 1943
- Uruguayan first division league champion in 1944, 1945, 1949, 1951, 1953 and 1954
- Torneo de Honor winner in 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953
- Competencia tourney winner in 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1951 1953
Varela was among the 13 best South American players of the 20th century according to the IFFHS' Century Elections.
References and notes