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Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time

Saturday19 December 2020 | 19:30
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We are going to remind you of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time on this list

While Brazil and Argentina have since formed themselves as the giants of South American football, it was Uruguay who paved the way for the whole continent on the global stage.

Before bringing a second star to their badge 20 years later, they had the privilege of both hosting and winning the inaugural World Cup in 1930, crushing hosts Brazil in the final in front of a record-breaking crowd.

They have also won the Copa America more times than any other side and for good measure, they have two Olympic gold medals to their credit.

Due to the country's size, such achievement is found even more extraordinary.

They are by far the smallest country to have ever won the World Cup, with a population of only 1.75 million people in 1930.

However, they continue to pump out top stars, some more of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time and expectations are high that in Brazil they will once again reach the latter stages.

Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time

The players mentioned in the following are in our view, the very Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time…

Ladislao Lazurkiewicz

Ladislao Mazurkiewicz Iglesias (February 14, 1945 – January 2, 2013) was a Uruguayan soccer player who played as a goalie and was one of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time.

Mazurkiewicz helped the Uruguayan national team qualify for the 1970 World Cup semifinals, where the eventual winner, Brazil, stopped the charruas.

He was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. He also played Atletico Mineiro on the Brazilian side.

During his international career (1965–74), he achieved a total of 36 appearances with the National Team of his native Uruguay. From 1988–89, he coached

Penarol

.

Mazurkiewicz's father was Polish and his mother was Spanish. Though of Polish descent, he did not know Polish, and he never traveled to Poland.

Mazurkiewicz died of undisclosed causes on 2 January 2013 in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the age of 67. He's buried in the cemetery of Parque Del recuerdo.

Jose Santamaria

Jose Emilio Santamaria Iglesias (born July 31, 1929) is a former football central defender and manager. He was one of the

Best Uruguayan footballers of all time

.

He completed his 18-year career with

Nacional

and

Real Madrid

, winning 17 titles, including four European Cups, with the latter club.

Born in Uruguay, Santamaria served the national teams of Uruguay and Spain. Then, he embarked on a managerial career, which included a two-year spell with the second.

Santamaria was initially called to play for Uruguay in the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, being chosen to fill the inside forward role in the team, but having the offer rejected by his club on the grounds that he was a defender.

Four years later, though, he was an important part of the national team set up at the Swiss World Cup, helping them to finish fourth and winning a total of 20 caps.

Santamaria started to represent Spain in 1958, with its debut coming on 15 October against Northern Ireland (6-2 friendly win in Madrid).

He played at the 1962 World Cup with his adopted country, competing against Czechoslovakia (0–1 loss) and Mexico (1–0 triumph) in the eventual group stage exit.

After playing with the youth sides and spending two years with the under-21s, Santamaria was assigned the full team manager for the 1982 World Cup, due to be played on home soil as one of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time.

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At the end of the competition, he was relieved of his duties as Spain was unable to move from the second phase of the group, leaving football to explore other ambitions.

Diego Godin

Diego Roberto Godin Leal (born 16 February 1986) is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays as a center back for the Italian club

Cagliari

and the Uruguayan national team.

Commonly referred to as one of the best defenders in the world and one of the

Best Uruguayan players in football history

, he began his professional career with

Cerro

and, three years later, was moved to Premier Division, Nacional.

He since spent much of his professional career in Spain, representing Villarreal and Atletico Madrid and winning eight titles with the latter club, including the La Liga championship in the 2013–14 season.

Since 2005, Godin has played in Uruguay at three World Cups and five Copa America Tournaments, winning the 2011 edition of the latter competition.

Godin was picked by Coach Oscar Tabarez for the 2014 World Cup and captained the team in three of their four games due to Lugano's absence from injury.

On 24 June, he headed the only goal against Italy in the final group game, sending the country to the knockout stage.

In May 2015, being one of the Best Uruguayan footballers of all time, Godin was elected captain of Uruguay's Copa America defense team at the 2015 Chile Continental tournament.

He was also selected for the Copa America Centenario squad, going home from a

Carlos Sanchez

long cross in the opening against Mexico, where both teams ended up with ten players (1–3 loss).

In the following match, he earned his 100th cap, a 0–1 loss against Venezuela in the Lincoln Financial Field

Godin was also chosen for the 2018 World Cup.

He made his 126th appearance against Thailand on 25 March at the 2019 China Cup, surpassing Maxi Pereira as the most capped player in the history of the national team.

In June 2019, Godin skippered the team to the quarter-finals of the Copa America in Brazil.

Edinson Cavani

Edinson Roberto Cavani Gomez (born February 14, 1987) is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays as a striker for the Premier League club

Manchester United

and the Uruguay National Team. He is considered as one of the

Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time.

Cavani started his career playing for Danubio in Montevideo, where he played for two years, before moving to the Italian side of Palermo in 2007.

He lasted four seasons in the club, scoring 34 goals in 109 league appearances. In 2010, Cavani signed an initial loan agreement with Napoli before purchasing it for a total fee of €17 million.

In the 2011–12 season, he received his first club title, the Coppa Italia, in which he was the highest goalscorer with five goals.

With Napoli, Cavani scored 33 goals each in his first two seasons, followed by 38 goals in his third season, where he also concluded as Serie A's top scorer with 29 league goals.

On 16 July 2013, Cavani was transferred to

Paris Saint-Germain

as one of the Best Uruguayan players in football history for €64 million at the time, of the most expensive signing in French football history.

With PSG, Cavani has won six Ligue 1 titles, five Coupes de la Ligue and four Coupes de France.

He won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the 2016–17 season and was the league's top scorer for the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons.

He's also ranked as the club's all-time highest goal scorer. In 2020, Cavani signed the deal with Manchester United.

Alvaro Recoba

Alvaro Alexander Recoba Rivero (born 17 March 1976; nickname "El Chino") is a former Uruguayan footballer who played as a forward or a middleman as one of the Best Uruguayan Soccer Players in History.

While he started and ended his career in football in his native country, he also played for many European clubs during his career, most notably the Italian side of

Inter Milan

, where he spent 11 seasons.

At the international level, Recoba won 68 caps for the Uruguay National Team between 1995 and 2007, featuring in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and two Copa America tournaments.

In September 2005, Recoba, considered already as one of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time, scored the winning goal against

Argentina

in the 2006 World Cup qualifying game.

This helped Uruguay qualify as the fifth-placed South American team and put it in a position to play an intercontinental playoff against the Australian Champions of the Oceania Football Confederation.

However, Uruguay lost 4–2 in a penalty shootout after a draw in an overall score. Recoba was replaced by Marcelo Zalayeta in the second leg of the playoffs after 73 minutes.

When he was interviewed for the Australian documentary on 16 November 2015, Recoba expressed his dissatisfaction at the decision to replace him, saying, "I was OK. I had the will to keep going. I was disappointed to come off in a game like that."

Luis Cubilla

Luis Alberto Cubilla Almeida was a football player and coach from Uruguay (28 March 1940 - 3 March 2013).

He won 16 major titles in a prolific playing career. With 17 major titles, he then went on to become one of the most influential managers in South American football. He was one of the

Best Uruguayan football players of all time.

Cubilla, also known as El Negro, was born in Paysandu and began his career with the Colon de Paysandu youth team.

He joined Penarol in 1957, where he was part of the squad that won four championships in the Uruguayan League, two Copa Libertadores and one Copa Intercontinental.

Although the international career of Luis Cubilla coincided with a comparatively bleak spell for Uruguay, at club level, there was no such lack of silverware for the winger.

In all, during his time in his home country, he picked up nine league titles and three Copa Libertadores.

Those achievements allowed a stint with the Spanish giants of

Barcelona

, where Cubilla added the Copa Del Rey to his list of honors.

With 17 major titles to his credit, he retired and exceeded that by becoming one of the most decorated managers in the history of South American football.

Cubilla's comparatively small number of caps comprised three World Cups on the international level, as he featured in the tournaments of 1962, 1970 and 1974.

IFFHS classified him, above the likes of Ronaldo, Romario and Roberto Rivelino, as the 11th-best South American player of the 20th century. He was indeed one of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time.

Obdulio Varela

Obdulio Jacinto Muinos Varela (September 20, 1917—August 2, 1996) was a football player in Uruguay.

He was captain of the Uruguayan National Team, who won the 1950 World Cup after defeating Brazil in the crucial final round of the tournament, widely known as the Maracanazo.

He was nicknamed "El Negro Jefe" (The Black Chief) because of his dark skin and his impact on the pitch, particularly during the unexpected victory over Brazil.

He was of African, Spanish, and Greek ancestory. He was widely regarded as one of the greatest classic holding midfielders, adept at defence, and world renowned for his tenacity and leadership.

He is considered to be one of the best captains and one of the Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time.

Following in the steps of Jose Nasazzi, Obdulio Varela became the second (and last) captain of

Uruguay

to win the Jules Rimet Trophy when his team triumphed against the expectations in 1950.

Hosts Brazil was waiting for his side in the deciding match of the competition, with Uruguay in need of a win and Brazil in need of a tie.

As it was, Varela encouraged his side to come from behind against the hosts in front of the lively Maracana crowd, which numbered more than 200,000, and eventually came out 2-1 champions to win the cup.

Four years later they reached the semi-finals, but the injury stopped Varela from taking part in an eventual 4-2 loss at the Magical Magyars of

Hungary

.

The holding midfielder even won the Copa America in 1942, though there was a lot of silverware at club level to celebrate.

In addition to 14 other competitions, he won six league titles with Penarol over an outstanding 12-year period.

Alcides Ghiggia

Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia Pereyra (22 December 1926 – 16 July 2015) was an Uruguayan-Italian football player who was a right winger.

He had a lasting reputation for his key role in the final match of the 1950 World Cup, and at the time of his death, 65 years later, he was also the last living player in the tournament and of course one of the very

Best Uruguayan Soccer Players in History.

On 29 December 2009, Brazil celebrated Ghiggia's winning goal in the 1950 World Cup.

Ghiggia returned to Maracana Stadium almost 60 years later for this honor and planted his feet in the mould to take his place alongside the greats such as Brazil's

Pele

, Portugal's Eusebio and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer on the Maracana Stadium.

Ghiggia was quite sentimental and thanked Brazil for its warm welcome and the recognition he received, even though the game is regarded as the most disappointing game in the history of Brazilian football.

Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan Corazo (born May 19, 1979) is a Uruguayan professional football manager and a former player who played as a forward.

At the club level, Forlan has won both the Pichichi Trophy and the European Golden Shoe.

With the Uruguay National Team, he had a big individual success at the 2010 World Cup, emerging as a joint top scorer with five goals, including the goal of the tournament, and earning the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.

He is definetly among the

Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time.

Forlan has had a good international career, scoring 36 times for his country between his debut in 2002 and his retirement in 2015, including six goals at the FIFA World Cup.

On 12 July 2011, at the 2011 Copa America in Argentina won by Uruguay, Forlan won his 79th international cap in a match against

Mexico

, breaking the record held since 1986 by goalie Rodolfo Rodriguez.

On 20 June 2013, in a match against Nigeria at the 2013 Confederations Cup, Forlan was the first Uruguayan to win 100 caps.

Enzo Francescoli

Enzo Francescoli Uriarte (born 12 November 1961) is a retired Uruguayan soccer player.

Due to its exquisite style of play, Francescoli was nicknamed "El Principe" ("The Prince" in Spanish or "Le Prince" in French) and "El Flaco" because of his slender body.

Formerly an attacker, he was considered an elite playmaker for the Uruguayan National Team in a decadent era, one of the

Greatest Uruguayan Football Players ever.

Between 1982 and his retirement in 1997, he played 73 times for the Celeste, making him the best outfield player in Uruguayan international football at the time.

He represented his nation at two FIFA World Cups, in 1986 and 1990, and also won the Copa America in 1983, 1987 and 1995.

Considered to be one of the best number 10s of his generation and one of the greatest ever players in Uruguay and South America, Francescoli was the only Uruguayan to be included in the FIFA 100 list of the world's biggest living footballers in 2004,

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He was also chosen by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics as the sixth greatest player in Uruguay and the 24th greatest South American player of the 20th century.

Luis Suarez

Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz (born 24 January 1987) is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays the Spanish club

Atletico Madrid

and the Uruguayan national team.

Usually considered to be one of

Best Uruguayan soccer players of all time

, Suarez has won 19 trophies in his career, including six league titles and a club-level UEFA Champions League trophy, and a Copa America with Uruguay.

A successful scorer, Suarez won two European Golden Shoes, the Eredivisie Golden Boot, the Premier League Golden Boot, and the Pichichi Trophy. He produced 486 club and country career goals.

At just 27, Luis Suarez has more than enough time to challenge the older echelons of this list, and the way he's going, he could be top of this list of Best Uruguayan football players of all time by the time he hangs his boots.

As controversial as he is, Suarez has defined himself as one of the best players in the world over the last few seasons.

The striker is Uruguay's top goal scorer, having found the back of the net 38 times in just 77 appearances for his country.

He was an essential part of the 2011 Copa America-winning team, scored four goals and was named Player of the Tournament as Uruguay won the competition for a record 15th time.

At club level, he's won two league titles and two cups in three different nations, and came close to firing

Liverpool

to their first ever Premier League crown in the season just finished.

 He was named FWA and PFA Player of the Year for his success in 2013-14, finishing the campaign with a record-equalling 31 league goals in his account.

Juan Alberto Schiaffino

Juan Alberto "Pepe" Schiaffino Villano (July 28, 1925 – November 13, 2002) was an Italian-Uruguayan football player who played either as an attacking midfielder or as a forward.

A highly talented and innovative playmaker, at club level, he played for CA Penarol in Uruguay, and for

A.C. Milan

, and the Italian

Roma

.

At the international level, he won the 1950 FIFA World Cup with the Uruguayan National Team and also took part in the 1954 FIFA World Cup, followed by the Italian National Football Team.

He was without a doubt one of the ultimate Greatest Uruguayan Football Players ever.

Though Cubilla and Scarone both spent a short time in Europe, Juan Alberto Schiaffino possibly played his best football over a six-year stretch with AC Milan.

He won three Series A and Latin Cup titles at the San Siro, as well as being defeated by the all-conquering Real Madrid in the 1958 European Cup final.

Prior to his transfer to Italy, where he would take on Italian citizenship and play for the national team, Schiaffino took part in both the 1950 and 1954 World Cups for Uruguay.

He had a distinctive influence in 1950, scoring an equalizing goal against

Brazil

in the final, as Uruguay spoiled the chances of winning the competition for a second time.

Best known for his technique and vision, Schiaffino also won four league titles with Penarol during his spell in his homeland, all within a six-year stretch.

IFFHS listed him the 17th-best player and the 6th-best South American of the 20th century.

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