Raimundo OrsiArgentina



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Born: Monday 2 December 1901, Avellaneda, Argentina
Died: Sunday 6 April 1986, Santiago, Chile (aged 84)
Position: Forward


One of several South American players who moved to Italy in the 1930s and switched allegiance to represent his adoptive country, Argentine-born striker Raimundo Orsi played a vital role in Italy's 1934 World Cup success.  He enjoyed a successful club career both in South American and in Europe, in particular with the legendary Juventus side that won five consecutive Italian titles in the first half of the 1930s.


Raimundo Bibiani Orsi, often known as 'Mumo', was born in Avellaneda in Argentina on 2 December 1901.  His father was of Italian ancestry, a fact which would later allow him to represent that country as well as Argentina at international level.  Orsi's senior career began with Avellaneda's leading side Independiente in his late teens, and in eight years with the club he developed a reputation as one of the quickest and most skilful players in South America.


He won the first major honour of his career in the 1922 season as, in an era of two competing leagues in Argentina, Independiente claimed one of the available titles as they finished four points clear of River Plate.   His time at the club would prove to be extremely successful as Independiente, with Orsi mostly playing on the left wing, won three consecutive cup competitions between 1924 and 1926.  They also added another league title in the 1926 season, this time edging out San Lorenzo by a single point.


Orsi broke into the Argentinian national team in 1924, playing in two matches against Uruguay, but had to wait until 1927 to make his next appearace.  It was then that he finally became a regular member of the squad, and was chosen to go to the South American Championship in Peru.  He missed the first two games, but played in the final match against the host nation, which Argentina had to win to be sure of the title.  They duly did so and Orsi had the first international title of his career.


The South American title guaranteed a place in the Olympic Games in Amsterdam, and it was there that Orsi came to the attention of leading European clubs.  He scored two goals in Argentina's first game against the USA, a crushing 11-2 victory, and netted another in the second round against Belgium.  Argentina went all the way to the final, where they were defeated by Uruguay to finish with the silver medals, but Orsi's performances had attracted the attention of Italian giants Juventus.


He signed almost immediately after the Olympics, but did not make his debut for the club for almost a year.  In his first season in the Juventus first team, Orsi played in all 34 league games and helped the club to a third place finish in the first professional Serie A season.  He was quickly drafted into the Italian national team, the first of the South American imports to gain such recognition.  On his debut for Italy, Orsi scored twice in a 6-1 win over Portugal in Milan.  The policy of importing players like that was unpopular with some, but Orsi set a trend that many would follow, including his fellow Argentinian and Juventus team-mate Luis Monti.


Following the third place finish in his first season, the rest of Orsi's time at Juventus was characterised by nothing but success.  Between 1930 and 1935, Juve won five league titles in a row with Orsi almost an ever present for the first three of those triumphs.  1930-31 was perhaps his greatest season, as he scored 20 league goals in 33 games to finish as the club's leading goalscorer.  His form seemed certain to earn him a place in Italy squad for the World Cup of 1934, which they would host.  His participation in that tournament was placed in jeopardy however, by a broken leg which he suffered late in 1933.


Out of action for several months, some thought that Orsi could not possibly be fully fit for the World Cup but coach Vittorio Pozzo had full confidence in him and included him in the squad.  Orsi immediately repaid the faith that Pozzo had, as he scored twice in Italy's 7-1 first round thrashing of the USA.  He proved his fitness beyond doubt by playing in every game as Italy beat Spain (after a replay) and Austria to reach the final against Czechoslovakia.  In the final, Italy fell behind on 71 minutes and still trailed with 10 minutes to go.  With their hopes apparently slipping away, it was Orsi who found the equalising goal from a near-impossible angle and forced extra-time.  Angelo Schiavio's goal completed the fightback and Orsi had a World Cup winner's medal with his adopted country.  Having initially seemed unlikely even to play in the finals, he ended up being named in the tournament's All-Star team.


Orsi left Italy in 1935, having scored 13 goals in 35 matches for the national team and 77 in 177 league games for Juventus.  As well as the World Cup win, he had also played a part in two successes for Italy in the Central European International Cup.  On his return to South America he rejoined Independiente, narrowly missing out on another league title as Boca Juniors finished three points ahead.  Orsi himself would have a brief spell with Boca in 1936, and also represented Platense and Almagro over the next four years.  Most unusually, he even returned to the Argentinian national team for one final appearance against Uruguay, eight years after his last match for Argentina and having won the World Cup with another country in the mean time.


In 1939, Orsi moved to Brazil to play for Flamengo, helping the team win the Rio State Championship in that year.  By now edging towards his 40th birthday, his playing career was coming to an end but there was still time to make a brief stop in Uruguay with another of South America's top clubs, Peñarol.  His final club was Santiago National in Chile, before his retirement from playing at the age of 42.  After his playing career, Orsi briefly coached several clubs including Rosario in Argentina and Atlante in Mexico.  He returned to Chile later in his life and it was there where he died in April 1986, at the age of 84.


References (all accessed 16 December 2011):