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Born: Saturday 1 September 1900, Redondela, Spain (or Montevideo, Uruguay)
Died: Friday 18 September 1970, Montevideo, Uruguay (aged 70)
Inside-left Pedro Cea was one of the stars of the great Uruguayan team which dominated international football through the 1920s. He enjoyed a hugely successful playing career in South America as was as playing a crucial role in Uruguay's success in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, and later went on to complete a unique double when he also coached his country to international success at continental level.
Born José Pedro Cea on 1 September 1900, there is some dispute about his actual place of birth, with some sources stating that he was born in Montevideo. Others however claim that he was actually from the town of Redondela in Galicia, Spain and that when he was still a young child, his family then migrated to South America. Regardless of which story is correct, it is certain that Cea spent most of his childhood in Montevideo and that it was there where he first learned about football.
Cea's senior playing career began in 1922, with Montevideo side CA Lito. He developed a reputation as an incredibly skilful player with the ball at his feet, using his dribbling skills to confuse opponents. At the end of his second season with Lito he found himself called into the national squad for the first time for the South American Championship, which Uruguay were to host. The opening game against Paraguay marked Cea's international debut, and his first goal came in the next match against Brazil as he scored with 15 minutes to go to give Uruguay a 2-1 win. Victory over great rivals Argentina in the final game gave Uruguay the title and Cea a major international trophy after just his third cap.
The following year, Cea travelled to Paris with the national team for the Olympic Games, the most important international tournament at the time. In their first game, he scored twice in a 7-0 thrashing of Yugoslavia and in the semi-final, his equalising goal turned the match just as Uruguay were facing a shock defeat to the Netherlands. Having won that game 2-1, Uruguay went on to beat Switzerland 3-0 in the final, with Cea scoring the second goal just after the hour mark. With a gold medal safely won, Cea also helped Uruguay claim another South American title later in 1924, scoring in the win over Paraguay in Montevideo.
For the 1928 season, Cea left Lito and moved to Bella Vista, where he would spend just one season. During that season Uruguay travelled back to Europe for the defence of their Olympic title in Amsterdam, and Cea was once again a crucial part of the squad. After wins over the Netherlands and Germany took them into the semi-finals, Uruguay fell behind to Italy before Cea's equalising goal turned the match in their favour. Beating Italy 3-2, Uruguay went on to beat Argentina after a replay in the final to give Cea his second Olympic gold medal.
In 1929, Cea moved to play for Nacional, one of the leading clubs in Uruguay, where he would remain for the rest of his playing career. At the end of his first season with Nacional, he was again chosen to represent his country in the South American championship but this time the tournament in Argentina was a disappointment. Cea played in two of Uruguay's three games but failed to score as the team could only finish third out of four teams. Attention at international level, however, was focused on the first World Cup in 1930, which Uruguay would host and in which Cea would have his greatest impact.
As hosts and double Olympic champions, Uruguay were clear favourites for the title and having started with a 2-0 win over Peru, their second and final group game against Romania gave Cea his first World Cup goal and the team a place in the semi-finals with a 4-0 victory. In the semi-final against Yugoslavia, Uruguay surprisingly fell behind early on, but it was Cea who scored the important equalising goal on 19 minutes. Three more goals gave Uruguay a comfortable 4-1 lead before Cea added two more goals of his own to complete a 6-1 win with a famous hat-trick. Uruguay scored first in the final against Argentina, but trailed 2-1 at half-time and as in the semi-final, it was Cea who grabbed the equaliser. They would go on to win 4-2, giving him a World Cup winner's medal to go alongside two Olympic golds. With five goals, Cea was the second highest scorer in the tournament.
Cea's final international appearance would come on 4 December 1932, in a 2-1 defeat to Brazil in Montevideo. In all, he scored 13 goals in 27 games for his country, with ten of those goals coming in either the Olympic Games or the World Cup. Success at club level had been hard to come by, but the later years of his career would put that right. Having missed out in the inaugural season of professional football in 1932, Nacional claimed league titles in both 1933 and 1934 as Cea, by now in his mid 30s, finished his career in style. After the league title of 1934 he would play on for one more year before retiring in 1935.
Six years later in 1941, he returned to the national team as coach and twice led his country in the South American Championship. They finished second in 1941, but the following year went one better. Cea's team won their first five matches, and just as had been the case so often in his playing career, he found himself facing Argentina in the decisive match. Uruguay won 1-0, giving Cea a title as coach to go with the two he won as a player. He left the national team job following that success, and spent the later years of his life working as a journalist. Cea died in September 1970, less than three weeks after his 70th birthday.
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- Published on Monday, 05 December 2011 00:30