We tend to forget it: Uruguay has two world championship titles and two Olympic titles … moments of glory that date back to the first half of the 20th century. For a long time, the South American selection has had some ups and downs.
But for a decade, here is back on the front of the stage thanks to his coach: Oscar Tabarez, 71 years. He is today the one who has most directed international matches (183 to date). And he imposed on Uruguayan football a real cultural revolution.
El Maestro at the bedside of a moribund team
A first coach in the late 1980s, Oscar Tabarez is recalled in 2006 at the bedside of a sick team: the Celeste is not even qualified for the German World Cup … everything is to rebuild. El Maestro, his nickname in reference to his former job, schoolmaster, inculcates a new state of mind to his players: the “Garra Charrúa” in the original version … a mental force of all times … a term that refers to the story of this small country of South America, wedged between Brazil and Argentina.
The Charruas were Indians, the first inhabitants of this territory, exterminated by the settlers. And as from the 1920s to the 1950s, it works: Oscar Tabarez takes his players to the 4th place of the World Cup in 2010 and won the Copa America in 2011. Real performances for a country of fewer than four million inhabitants.
Oscar Tabarez participates in his fourth World Cup as coach of the Celeste. He qualified for the third time in a row in the round of 16. It will be Saturday against Portugal, with great efficiency: Uruguay is the only team to have conceded no goal at this beginning of the competition.
Passionate about football and his country, he does not miss an opportunity to declare his love in a press conference, Tabarez has been suffering for several years from neuropathy, a disease that requires him to move in a chair and crutches on the edge ground. Not enough to make him flinch as if he incarnated by himself the “Garra Charrúa”.