Montevideo-based Club Nacional de Football is the oldest Uruguayan club and the first indigenous Latin American club. Founded on 14 May 1899 at the home of Dr. Ernesto Caprario, the ‘National Football Club’ or simply known as Nacional is the result of a merger between the Uruguay Athletic Club and Montevideo Futbol Club.
Back then, Uruguay only had a population of 930,000, and Montevideo, the capital, had 290,000 inhabitants. More than half of that was made up of foreigners.
The club first won the Primera División in 1902 and followed it up in 1903. Nacional has won 48 titles in the Primera División, most recently in the 2020 season. A list of domestic cup honors includes Competition Cup (8 times) and Honor Cup (7 times).
Three Copa Libertadores have been won by Nacional, which has won 22 international tournaments recognized by FIFA and CONMEBOL.
Club Nacional de Football First Game
Club Nacional de Football played its first friendly on 18 June 1899 against Internacional at its original stadium in Punta de las Carretas. The team has subsequently moved to Gran Parque Central (recently renovated but which still only boasts a 34,000 capacity).
Big games, particularly against arch-rival Peñarol, are generally played at the Centenario stadium, which staged the first-ever FIFA World Cup Final in 1930.
When Uruguay met Argentina for the first time on 20 July 1902, the eight Club Nacional de Football players in the Celeste side could do nothing to prevent an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of their near neighbors.
But in the return match in Buenos Aires on 13 September 1903, following the withdrawal of players from the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club, Nacional alone took up the challenge – and defeated Argentina 3-2.
Fact: In 2013, the fans released the world’s biggest flag during a match. The flags dimension was 600 meters long by 50 meters high. It weighed 11,000 pounds.
“Club Nacional de Football represents the country’s dignity and its people” is how the club’s directors like to perceive their team. With the brothers Carlos and Bolívar Cespedes driving them on, Nacional won three league titles from 1902 to 1904, twice going through the season unbeaten.
In 1912, José María Delgado became president of the club at the tender age of 27, and in 1915, Hector Scarone, “the world’s best player,” joined the club and was a permanent fixture for the next fifteen years.
After 10 seasons with no success, they won the 1912 domestic championship in José María Delgado’s first season. The team continued to improve and won the 1915 Triple Crown (Tri-championship), which included the three most important domestic and international tournaments of the time: Primera División, Tie Cup, and Copa de Honor Cousenier.
They were the first Uruguayan football club to win three league championships in a row – 1915, 1916, and 1917. Although they missed out on the 1918 title, they continue the successful run with another 5 championships in six years from 1919.
At the international level, Nacional won three Copa Aldaos in 1916, 1919, and 1920, three Copa de Honor Couseniers in 1915, 1916, and 1917.
Club Nacional de Football’s early history featured endless tours, such as the one in 1925, which saw the club travel to nine different European countries over 153 days. Nevertheless, they emerged from their 38-match program with the following very respectable figures: 26 wins, 7 draws, 5 defeats, 130 goals scored, and 30 conceded.
Over the years, marked by its fierce rivalry with Peñarol, Nacional has won all the big club competitions: three Intercontinental Cups, two Toyota Cups, and three Copas Libertadores, while 14 of its players have gone on to represent two-times World Champions Uruguay.
Estadio Gran Parque Central Stadium
The National Football Club plays its home games at the Gran Parque Central Stadium, also known as Parque Central. You can find the ground in La Blanqueada, at 2900 Carlos Anaya Street, behind the club’s HQ (across the street), in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Nacional plays most of its home games in this stadium, except for the local derby, played at the Centenario Stadium, owned by the municipality.
There are currently 34,000 spectators seating between the four grandstands: José Mara Delgado grandstand (North), Atilio Garcia grandstand (South), Abdón Porte grandstand (West), and Héctor Scarone grandstand (East), which bear names of prominent Nacional players (Atilio Garcia, Abdón Porte, and Héctor Scarone) and a leader of the institution (José Maria Delgado).
The stadium goes by several names, the most popular being simply the Park. It is also called the Tricolor Temple, La Casablanca and La Quinta de la Paraguaya.
It was the site of the 1930 World Cup, and one of the first two World Cup matches was played there. A plaque commemorating this occasion has been placed at the tunnel’s exit from the changing rooms to the pitch by FIFA since 2005.
Nacional fans coined the word “hincha” to describe their football fans. Prudencio Miguel Reyes was famous for providing continuous support to his team at Nacional in the early 20th century. Reyes became known as the “fan” of Nacional after just a few games. Throughout the world, Spanish speakers use this word frequently.
The Club Nacional de Football fans are renowned for following the team in big numbers all around the world, as well as the national teams at World Cups, Olympic Games, and international tournaments.
Club Nacional de Football Facts
Club Name: Club Nacional de Football
City: Montevideo (Uruguay)
Founded: 14 May 1899
Home Ground: Estadio Gran Parque Central. Capacity: 34,000
Home Jersey: White shirt, with red and blue trimmings. Made by Umbro.
Honours: 48 Uruguayan League Championships (amateur and professional), 3 Copas Libertadores (1971, 1980, 1988), 3 Intercontinental Cup (1971, 1980, 1988), 2 Toyota Cups (1980, 1988), 1 Recopa Sudamericana (1989), 2 Copas Interamericanas (1972, 1989)
Past Greats: Carlos and Bolívar Cespedes, Héctor Scarone, Atilio García, Gambetta, José Leandro Andrade, Pedro Cea, Ángel Romano, Ostolaza, Morales, Espárrago, Blanco, Victorino, Hugo León
Records: Emilio “Cococho” Álvarez, with 511 appearances, holds the record for the most games played for Nacional. Héctor Scarone, who played for Nacional for 21 years, is the club’s longest-serving player. Atilio García is the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 465 goals.
Nine Club Nacional de Football players played for the Uruguay national team that won the 1930 World Cup and 5 players played for the national team in the final of the 1950 World Cup victory against the host Brazil.
Nacional is the only Uruguayan club whose players have been part of all Uruguay national teams that have won international tournaments.
Official Website: www.nacional.uy
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!