Fans of Argentinian side Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys are justifiably proud of its history and pedigree. Not only has the club’s academy produced some of the country’s finest players, but over the years, the team has been graced by such legends as Diego Maradona and Ariel Ortega.
We spotlight this venerable institution from Rosario, one of the country’s most passionate footballing centers.
Birth Of An Institution
In 1869 when 16-year-old Isaac Newell emigrated from England to Rosario, he could scarcely have imagined the enduring legacy he would leave in Argentinian football.
After working as a railroad telegraphist and completing his teaching studies, Newell decided to found his school in 1884: the Colegio Comercial Anglicano Argentino.
That same year, Newell procured one of the country’s first leather footballs and a set of official football rules, and a passion was born.
The sport, which was spreading rapidly through the country, proved hugely popular among students at the school. So in 1900, Isaac appointed his son Claudio as college director, who would become the main driving force for the Newell’s Old Boys foundation.
In 1903, after a meeting attended by teachers and alumni past and present, Club Atletico Newell’s Old Boys was officially formed.
The first jersey was in the white-and-blue colors of the college, but shortly afterward, this was changed to black and red. The latter half is taken from the flag of Isaac’s native England and the former from that of his wife’s homeland, Germany.
The Newell’s Old Boys new color scheme was also used for the institution’s crest and features on their home strip.
The Making Of A Legend
Newell’s Old Boys claimed the inaugural Liga Rosarina in 1905, winning their first encounter with Rosario Central, who remain their fiercest rivals.
The Rosario derby is one of the most passionately contested in all of Argentina, so it is difficult to find players who have swapped the colors of one of the clubs for the other.
Their famous nickname, Los Leprosos (The Lepers or La Lepra), came in the 1920s. The story goes that both Newell’s Old Boys and Central were invited to play in a charity match in aid of a local leprosy clinic.
Los Canallas (The Scoundrels) were dubbed Los Canallas (The Scoundrels) for their refusal to accept Newell’s Old Boys offer.
After picking up several titles at amateur and semi-professional levels and earning the distinction of becoming the first Argentinian club to have a player transferred to Europe (Julio Libonatti, to Italy’s Torino in 1925), in 1939, Newell’s Old Boys began competing in the national league that had been established by the country’s Football Association eight years earlier.
Newell’s Old Boys First Silverware
Their first silverware of the professional era came in 1974. After coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with their city rivals on the last day of the season, they won the Torneo Metropolitano with the likes of Jorge Valdano and Americo Gallego on the side.
The title-winning goal by Mario Zanabria is celebrated every year by the fans in a ritual that is still dear to the Leproso faithful. Newell’s Old Boys second league title, in 1988, was particularly special to the club, as they took top honors with a squad of players who had all come through the youth academy.
From that moment on, Newell’s Old Boys began fielding teams in the national youth leagues, and, except for Boca Juniors, no club has won more titles in these categories.
One of Newell’s most notable assets is its youth division, which has won more national titles than any other club in AFA’s youth tournaments. Lionel Messi played in the club’s youth teams before leaving for Barcelona to seek treatment for his growth hormone deficiency.
Among the long Albiceleste greats to have cut their teeth in these sides are Gabriel Batistuta, Abel Balbo, Lionel Messi, Gabriel Heinze, and Maximiliano Rodriguez.
Further league titles followed in 1991 and 1992 under Marcelo Bielsa, providing a measure of consolation for defeats in the Copa Libertadores’ finals of 1988 and 1992, a title that has eluded them to this day.
The Rosario side made the headlines again in 1993 with the arrival of one Diego Maradona. And although El 10’s stay was fleeting, his decision to join Newell’s Old Boys remains a source of immense pride for its fans.
Representing The Argentina National Team
Equally satisfying for the Newell’s Old Boys faithful is the distinction of being the only club from the interior to have had team members bring home FIFA World Cup winners’ medals (Gallego in 1978 and Sergio Almiron in 1986) and being the only institution to represent Argentina in an official competition, the Newell’s Old Boys reserve team has lined out in the qualifying tournament for the 1976 Olympic Football Tournament.
Many of the team’s players have also played for the Argentine national team, and many have been exported to Europe’s top leagues, mostly to Italy and Spain.
Very few teams have had all their players represent the national team in one game, such as Newell’s Old Boys, who represented Argentina with an undefeated reserve team in a pre-Olympic tournament. After Brazil and Uruguay, it finished third in America.
Newell’s Old Boys In The 2000’s
After a decade containing more lows than highs, with the 2004 title win under Gallego and Ariel Ortega, the clearest example of the latter, a change in management has the club’s faithful feeling optimistic once again.
Despite relegation looming over them, their recent performance in the recent Apertura has given them a solid cushion of points to build upon.
Estadio Marcelo Bielsa
The Coloso del Parque (The Colossus of the Park) was inaugurated on 23 July 1911 and is located in the city’s Parque de la Independencia.
After remodeling the stadium in 1995 and 1997, it currently has a capacity of 42,000 spectators, making it one of the largest stadiums outside the capital.
Its modern facilities were selected as one of the host venues for the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2001.
Marcelo Bielsa was the former player and coach of Newell’s Old Boys, and the stadium was renamed after him in 2009. Its now called the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa.
Newell’s Old Boys Facts And Figures
Full Name Of Club: Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys
City: Rosario, Argentina
Founded: 3 December 1903
- Víctor Ramos (104 goals)
- Gerardo Martino (505 games)
- 1911: Copa de Honor Municipalidad de Buenos Aires
- 1921: Copa Ibarguren
- 1949: Copa Adrián C. Escobar
- 1974: Torneo Metropolitano
- 1987-1988, 1990-1991, and 1992: Torneo Clausura
- 1988 and 1992: 2 Copa Libertadores runners-up
- 2004: Torneo Apertura
- 2013: Primera División
- Julio Libonatti (1917-25)
- René Pontoni (1940-45)
- Jorge Griffa (1954-59)
- José Yudica (1954-58)
- Federico Sacchi (1958-60)
- Santiago Santamaría (1970-74 and 1980-85)
- Américo Gallego (1974-81)
- Mario Zanabria (1970-75)
- Jorge Valdano (1973-75)
- Víctor Ramos (1978-84 and 1987-89)
- Roque Alfaro (1975-80)
- Marcelo Bielsa (1976-78)
- Sergio Almirón (1978-89)
- Gerardo Martino (1980-91)
- Juan Manuel Llop (1981-94)
- Norberto Scoponi (1982-94)
- Fabián Basualdo (1982-1988)
- Jorge Theiller (1983-89 and 1993)
- Julio Zamora (1985-87, 1990-93 and 1997-98)
- Roberto Sensini (1986-89)
- Abel Balbo (1987-88)
- Gabriel Batistuta (1988-89)
- Mauricio Pocchetino (1988-94)
- Fernando Gamboa (1988-93 and 1999-2000)
- Julio Saldaña (1989-93 and 1996-2002)
- Diego Maradona (1993-94)
- Maximiliano Rodríguez (1997-02)
- Ariel Ortega (2004-06)
- Justo Villar (2004-08)
Top Goal Scorers Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys
- Víctor Ramos – 104 goals
- Santiago Santamaría – 90 goals
- Alfredo Oberti – 89 goals
- Maxi Rodríguez – 85 goals
- Ignacio Scocco – 70 goals