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Born: Friday 22 November 1901, Salto, Uruguay
Died: Saturday 5 October 1957, Montevideo, Uruguay (aged 55)
One of the stars of Uruguay's all-conquering team of the 1920s and early 1930s, right-half José Andrade was also one of the first black players to make an impact on the global game. An incredibly skilful and intelligent player who rejected some of the more cynical elements of the game adopted by team-mates, he also bridged the gap between Uruguay's leading teams Nacional and Peñarol by representing both with great distinction during his club career.
Andrade was born in the town of Salto, on the border of Uruguay and Argentina, on 20 November 1901. He was the son of an Argentinian mother and an African father, and at an early age moved to the Palermo district of Montevideo where he was raised by his aunt. His football skills were developed on the streets of Montevideo, and it was there that he also showed considerable musical ability. For much of his career football in Uruguay was amateur, and he used this ability to make a living when for some time he worked as a carnival musician.
As a teenager he represented Misiones, one of the smaller clubs in Montevideo. He was able to play in a variety of positions from full-back to winger, but it was as a half-back that he would spend much of his playing career. Unlike many of his contemporaries he was not a physical player but rather preferred to outthink his opponents, regularly using body feints to evade tackles. In 1921, he was encouraged by another of Uruguay's leading players, José Nasazzi, to join him at new club Bella Vista, with whom he broke through into the top division in Uruguay for the first time when they won promotion in 1922.
Bella Vista finished third in their first season in the top division, and Andrade gained international honours for the first time during that season when he made his debut for the national team in a 0-0 draw against Argentina. At the end of 1923, he represented Uruguay in the South American Championship, playing all three games as Uruguay claimed the title with three wins. He would also be part of the squad for the 1924 triumph in that competition, but did not play in the tournament.
It was another tournament in 1924 that had really brought Andrade to the attentional of the football world, namely the Olympic Games in Paris. For many European spectators, he was the first black player they had ever seen and his skills earned him the nickname 'the black marvel'. Uruguay stormed through the tournament to take the goald medals, with Andrade playing in every game. Although not a goalscorer, he created many scoring chances for the forward line. He remained in Paris for a short time after the tournament, enjoying the city's nightlife and demonstrating the carnival music that he had learned back in Montevideo.
Andrade was never likely to remain at Bella Vista for much longer, and a move to one of Uruguay's dominant teams came when he joined Nacional in the mid-1920s. His time at Nacional was characterised by frustration in the domestic league however, as both Rampla Juniors and rivals Peñarol regularly just edged them out in the quest for league honours. Despite this disappointment, Andrade enjoyed further international success as Uruguay remained the dominant force in South American, claiming another continental title in 1926 with Andrade being named player of the tournament. Although Uruguay could only finish as runners-up to Argentina the following year, that still earned them the right to defend their Olympic title in Amsterdam in 1928.
As in 1924, Andrade played every match as Uruguay claimed another gold medal, although this time only after a very tough final against great rivals Argentina, which went to a replay. Despite this success, the tournament had lasting implications for Andrade after he picked up an injury in the 3-2 semi-final victory over Italy. With Uruguay defending, Andrade collided with the goalpost and injured his eye, a problem which would grow gradually worse over the later years of his playing career and through his retirement.
Uruguay's Olympic titles had made them one of the leading countries in world football, and on that basis they were chosen to host the inaugural World Cup in 1930. They had only finished third in the previous year's South American Championship, which was Andrade's last continental championship, but that great team still had one last success to come. Andrade was still first choice at right-half, and played in all four matches as Uruguay became the first official world champions, once again overcoming Argentina in the final in Montevideo's Centenario Stadium. He was named as the tournament's third best player and also chosen as right-half in the All-Star Team for the competition.
The World Cup final was Andrade's 34th and final international appearance, but was certainly not the end of his playing career. Moving in to the 1930s, he left Nacional and joined their great rivals Peñarol, who had turned him down at the beginning of his career for reasons which some have alleged were racially motivated. It was with Peñarol that he was able to enjoy domestic title glory for the first time as they took the title by five clear points in 1932, and despite missing out to Nacional of all teams in 1933 and 1934, claimed the honours again in 1935. As his career wound down in the mid-1930s, he played for Montevideo Wanderers and also had brief spells with several Argentinian clubs including Argentinos Juniors before retiring in 1937.
After the end of his playing days, Andrade's life began to go downhill. He had long been a heavy drinker, and alcoholism combined with increasing problems with his sight led to him becoming something of a recluse. While many of his team-mates moved into coaching or radio reporting, Andrade was rarely seen. He made a rare public appearance at the 1950 World Cup, where Uruguay won their second title, as he watched his nephew Victor Rodriguez Andrade emulate his achievement of becoming a World Champion. By the time he reached his mid-50s, he was in very poor health and living in a run down apartment in Montevideo. It was there that he died on 5 October 1957, at the age of just 55.
References (all accessed 16 December 2011):
- Published on Friday, 16 December 2011 13:51