JOSÉ ANDRADE: LA MARAVILLA NEGRA

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En los Juegos Olímpicos de 1924, celebrados en París, los aficionados europeos veían por primera vez jugar a los sudamericanos. Nunca antes habían presenciado a los jugadores de piel negra en este deporte, y quedaron deslumbrados con la habilidad de José Leandro Andrade, un mediocampista al que apodaron ‘La Merveille Noire’ (La Maravilla Negra). El crack charrúa se convirtió en la primera superestrella de la historia del balompié, y con su habilidad y dominio del balón lideró a Uruguay hacia el título tras vencer a Suiza (3-0),  en una final que pasaría a la historia no solo por ser el primer título mundial que se escribió en los libros de oro del fútbol, sino también por la aparición del primer gran jugador negro de la historia y el nacimiento de la famosa vuelta olímpica de los campeones: trofeo en mano los jugadores uruguayos se recorrieron el terreno de juego celebrando la victoria con la gente.

En aquella época dedicarse al fútbol no era presagio de un buen futuro. Los padres querían que sus hijos estudiaran medicina, letras o economía, pero no que se dedicaran a dar patadas a un balón para entretener a la plebe. El fútbol era visto como un deporte al que jugaban pobres y disfrutaban los ricos. Pero con la aparición de hombres como Andrade todo empezaría a cambiar. Porque, así como la historia de la humanidad necesita de grandes figuras para su desarrollo, el fútbol requiere de grandes futbolistas para crecer y mantenerse vivo.

Tal fue la fama que adquirió el uruguayo en tierras parisinas, que tras la finalización de la competición se quedó un mes en la capital francesa, donde llegó incluso a codiciarse con la clase alta de París. Muchos son los que afirman que lo vieron bailando tango con la famosa Joséphine Baker. Su depurada técnica con el balón le había elevado hacia el estrellato en un mundo que nada tenía que ver con los partidos de fútbol. De esta forma nació la primera estrella de la historia, que por azares de la vida, y en un deporte creado por la raza blanca, era de color negro. Así que, si la leyenda cuenta que los brasileños adoptaron una gran habilidad para superar la diferencia de fuerza con los jugadores blancos y fueron los inventores de los regates con el balón, lo cierto es que, ya en la década de los años 20, Leandro Andrade maravillaba al mundo con su desborde y dominio para esconder y proteger el balón.

Después de alcanzar la gloria y su estadía en París regresó a Uruguay y cambió el club que lo vio debutar en 1921 (Bella Vista) por uno de los grandes del país, Nacional. Con ellos logró el campeonato uruguayo de 1924 y volvió a brillar en el viejo continente en la Gira Europea de 1925 y, posteriormente, en la norteamericana de 1927. De Nacional pasó a Peñarol, club con el que lograría el certamen Uruguayo del Profesionalismo y un nuevo título en 1935. Éste fue el punto de inflexión que le haría cambiar de aires y decidir marcharse durante unos años a Argentina para jugar en Atlanta, Argentinos Juniors y Talleres de Remedio de Escalada. Finalmente regresaría a Uruguay para acabar su carrera en el Montevideo Wanderers. Allí se convertiría en una habitual del carnaval y la fiesta nocturna. Su mejor fútbol había quedado en la ciudad del amor (París).

Con la celeste de Uruguay logró también tres Copa de América (1923, 1924, 1926), repitió el título de campeón de los Juegos Olímpicos en Ámsterdam (1928) y levantó el primer trofeo Jules Rimet (1930) que se entregó en la historia del fútbol y que lo coronaba como campeón del mundo. Su país fue sede de aquel Mundial y él, aunque ya no estaba en su máximo esplendor, ayudó a su selección a la victoria final. Fue activo fundamental de la primera superpotencia que dominó el fútbol y, además, aportó su granito de arena a la Uruguay del ‘Maracanazo’ regalando parte de sus genes a su sobrino Víctor Rodríguez Andrade, que fue partícipe del último Mundial conquistado por la selección charrúa.

Su corazón dejó de latir el 5 de octubre de 1957. A la edad de 55 años fallecía José Leandro Andrade, considerado el primer gran futbolista negro de la historia. Al momento de su muerte, se encontraba en el asilo Pyñeiro del Campo, ciego y casi olvidado por todos. Aunque su talento y se recuerdo quedarán presentes siempre que encontremos un vídeo, un testimonio o una nota nueva sobre él. Porque el talento es inmortal. Y probablemente se encuentre jugando allá en el cielo junto a Sindelar, Garrincha, Di Stéfano… otros grandes que como él hicieron de este deporte una cultura maravillosa y a los que hay que estar eternamente agradecidos.

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En el fútbol hay que jugar al ataque, debe ser un espectáculo. Y si jugadores y aficiones no disfrutan no merece la pena jugar.

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