28th november 1980, Rome, Excelsior Hotel. There, on Via Veneto, in the 60’s the heart of Italian Dolce Vita, Nottingham Forest and Nacional Montevideo executives met UEFA and CONMEBOL representatives together with those of West Nally, a British sports marketing agency. The two clubs, which won European Cup and Copa Libertadores respectively, had to discuss a proposal to reinvigorate Intercontinental Cup, on the verge of collapse after a difficult moment in the second half of the 70’s due to repeated refusals to participate by European clubs. The promoter of this new project was Japan motor company Toyota. The multinational corporation would want to replace the traditional two-legged final with a single match to be played every year in Tokyo, awarding to the winners also another trophy, called Toyota Cup.
A new competion format, a mix between tradition and innovation which was accepted almost immediately by both confederations and clubs. Nottingham Forest and Nacional had few reasons to reject Toyota proposal.
Japanese motor corporation paid them to participate reimbursing also travel and subsistence expenses. Furthermore Toyota, UEFA and European Cup clubs signed annual contracts requiring the eventual winners of the European Cup to participate at the Intercontinental Cup in order to protect them from possible refusals by European clubs.
Toyota Cup organizers choose in advance also the referee of the match. His name was Abraham Klein, he was born in Romania but he held Israeli citizenship, the country where Abraham had emigrated after surviving the Holocaust. In his long career Klein had refereed in two different World Cups (1970 and 1978) and had a solid international experience behind us.
When everything has been arranged, the match was ready to be played. Under Toyota wing, every year European and South American champions would compete against each other for the World title. The first game has been scheduled on 11th February 1981, at “Olympic Stadium” in Tokyo, the main stadium of 1964 Olympic Games.
Club Nacional de Football and Uruguay
In February 1981 Uruguay was governed by a military dictatorship, established in 1973. but at the beginning of the 80’s this regime began to be short of breath. On 30th November 1980 voters rejected through a referendum the new Constitution drawn up by military government.
That was a clear signal that Uruguay was taking a different route.
In those days in 1981 people began to talk about “Dictablanda”, Uruguayans dreamt of a different future. Maybe pushed by this new atmosphere Nacional fans went to Porto Alegre to support their team in the first leg of Copa Libertadores final at “Estádio Beira-Rio” against Internacional led by future As Roma star Paulo Roberto Falcão (He would accepted the offer from Italy after that match).
From Montevideo to Porto Alegre the road was white, blue and red, Nacional club colours. According to some sources 25.000 fans travelled to Rio Grande do Sul, the biggest fans’ crowd for an away match in the history of Uruguayan football.
In Porto Alegre Nacional and Internacional draw (0-0) and in the second leg at home “The Tricolors” won 1-0 thanks to Waldemar Victorino‘s goal. They won their second Copa Libertadores.
After that triumph Nacional executives didn’t change their squad. They sold only Hugo De León to Brazilian side Grêmio. Of course they confirmed also coach Juan Martin Mujica, who had been a key player in Tricolor team that won Copa Libertadores in 1971, the first one in club history. Mujica was appointed as caretaker in the first months of 1980 to replace Argentinian manager Pedro Dellacha (a former Racing de Avellaneda player considered by Pelé one of the rudest defender he’s ever faced) and Juan Martin worked with Esteban Gesto, much more than a fitness coach, as Rui Faria would be for Mourinho.
After a convincing job as caretaker Mugica has been appointed as permanent manager. Together with Gesto they would make Nacional history.
A solid team whose defensive leader was “Cacho” Blanco (now he works as Nacional executive in Montevideo) and whose goalkeeper was Uruguayan “number one” Rodolfo Rodriguez. In that squad the central midfielder was Arsenio Luzardo, well-known for his powerful kick alongside Víctor Espárrago supporting the formidable attacking line made by Waldemar Victorino, Alberto Bica (current youth national team coach) and Julio César Morales, nicknamed “Cascarilla”.
Nottingham Forest and England
The end of 70’s was a crucial era for England and British football. That was time of reform and revolution. In 1970 TV programme “Match of the Day” brought for the first time into English houses football and fans violence, in some cases harnessed by media. The death of a Bolton supporter, the first one related clearly to hooligans clashes, was the first step of process made by researches and repression. Its last stage was Football Spectactor Act based on Taylor Act and approved in 1989 by Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher.
It changed the way of living football in England. As Nottingham Forest coach Brian Clough did on the pitch.
He was a football genius and that era of “Garibaldi Reds” was maybe the best example of his game philosophy. A new way of playing football not based on long passes and crosses, but on ball played on the ground because “If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there“ as Cloughie repeated frequently. Nottingham Forest coached by former Middlesbrough striker was one of the proponents of the golden era of English football in European Cup. After three titles won in a row by Bayern Munchen “Garibaldi Reds”, alongside Liverpool and Aston Villa held European titles between 1977 and 1982. Clough led a great group of players and also a great group of men, like defender Viv Anderson the first Black footballer to wear England national team jersey or Scottish midfielder John Robertson compared with Picasso by his manager and beloved by Cloughie for his precise crosses.
The same Robertson scored the winning goal in 1979-1980 European Cup final against Hamburger SV held in Madrid on 28th May 1980. That goal brought “Garibaldi Reds” to Tokyo.
I think it will be an even game, though arriving two days before the match is a big handicap for us”.
Brian Clough was clear when he talked to international press after landing in Tokyo on Monday 9th February, On Saturday Nottingham Forest had played against Manchester City at “Maine Road” leaving England on Sunday unlike Nacional were already training in Japan over the previous few days. Despite this situation English side were favourite according to bookmakers. Althrough after only ten minutes Nacional scored thanks to Victorino who was able to convert an assist from right side provided by José Hermes Moreira. In the first half “Garibaldi Reds” were put under pressure by Mujica‘s side and Israeli referee disallowed two Uruguayan goals, the first one scored by Luzardo and the second one by Bica at the beginning of the second half .
In the last thirty minutes Clough‘s team took control and Nacional began to defend with so many players in the penalty area. Then Uruguayan goalkeeper became decisive giving to the “Tricolors” the second Intercontinental Cup of their history.
The football rivalry between Europe and South America was back.
Man of the match: Waldemar Victoriano
One of innovations, introduced by Toyota was “man of the match award”, voted by Japanese journalists who followed the game at “Olympic Stadium”. At the end of the final the Most Valuable Player of the match was also rewarded by new sponsor Toyota with a car, a brilliant marketing strategy. The winner of the first Toyota Celica was the only match goalscorer, Uruguayan striker Victorino.
He won the duel with the other centre forward Trevor Francis. Former Birmingham City player had scored the winning goal in the first Nottingham Forest European Cup final against Malmö in 1979 and after a short spell at Manchester City he would join Sampdoria in 1982, after the World Cup. In Italy Francis would meet again Victorino, who played for Cagliari. During 1982-1983 season, the only one with Victorino and Francis playing in Serie A, the English striker was praised much more than the Uruguayan one. In Sardinia Waldemar played only ten games without any goal, a disappointing experience that meant to him the first stage of his decline.
Despite the unlucky Italian spell Victorino will be always remembered not only for his role in Nacional “golden era” at the beginning of the 80’s but also for a goal scored with Uruguayan national team. He was the match winner in World Champions’ Gold Cup final played against Brazil at “Estadio Centenario” in Montevideo between December 1980 and January 1981. Brazilian side coached by Telê Santana wanted to take revenge on Uruguay for Maracanazo, but they lost 2-1 thanks to Victorino’s goal. After the decisive goal sports reporter and wonderful storyteller Victor Hugo Morales pronounced one of those words that make history. Talking to 1950 squad captain Obdulio Varela he said:
Don’t worry Odbulio, the guys didn’t let history change. Uruguay 2 Brazil 1. Don’t worry Obdulio I tell you”.
In Uruguay history of football has been always written with capital H.
Club Nacional de Football Montevideo-Nottingham Forest Football Club 1-0
Intercontinental Cup (Toyota Cup), Tokyo, National Stadium
Nacional Montevideo: 1 Rodríguez, 4 Blanco, 2 Moreira, 3 Enríquez, 5 González, 16 Milar ,6 Espárrago (C), 10 Luzardo, 7 Bica, 9 Victorino, 11 Morales. (12 Pereira, 13 Molina, 14 W. Cabrera, 18 J. Cabrera, 19 Perez). All.: Mujica
Nottingham Forest: 1 Shilton , 2 Anderson, 5 Lloyd, 6 Burns (C), 3 F. Gray, 7 O’Neill, 8 Ponte (12 Ward 68’), 15 S. Gray, 11 Robertson, 9 Francis, 10 Wallace. (13 Needham). All.: Clough.
Referee: Abraham Klein (Israel)
Goalscorer: 10’ Waldemar Victorino
Yellow cards: Espárrago, Lloyd.