A religious experience for Pope Francisco

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A religious experience for Pope Francisco

San Lorenzo, the tournament champion in Argentina, is one of the greats of Argentine football with a century of rich history and with a religious undertone, because a priest helped establish the club and its most famous supporter is Pope Francisco.

The club was founded on April 1, 1908 by a group of youngsters from the neighborhood of Almagro who played in the street. But after one of the children was about to be hit by a tram, Father Lorenzo Massa allowed them to play in a small field behind the San Antonio Oratorio provided that they go to Mass on Sundays. He also donated to them some jerseys.

Originally the youth thought to christen the club as 'The forces of Almagro' but the priest was not convinced and, following a debate, the idea came for the name 'Lorenzo Massa'. The ecclesiastical representative was not to fond of this name either although he accepted San Lorenzo in honor of the martyr of the Christian church.

After a few years San Lorenzo joined the Argentina Football Association, as it was then called, and went up to the first division after winning promotion in 1915. It had good campaigns in the amateur era with three titles (1923, 1924 and 1927) allowing them to gain a large amount of fans.

With the need for a larger field, Father Lorenzo Massa was an influence in the club purchasing some land on La Plata Avenue, were the famous stadium 'The Gasometer' would be built. Even the priest himself donated money to help with the purchase. The stadium would have capacity for 75,000 people and was the first stadium with lights.

The first title for the 'Cyclone' arrived in 1933 when they beat Boca by one point on the final day. Three years later they won the Copa de Honor. But from then they had to wait until 1946 to celebrate again with a team comprised of strikers Armando Farro, René Pontoni and Rinaldo Martino, baptized as the 'golden trio'.

Those players were the ones who dazzled the Pope as a child.

After that title, San Lorenzo went to Europe on a tour in which they achieved some fantastic results with wins over Spain (7-5, 6-1) and Portugal (10-4). After that historic and remembered tour on Spanish soil, San Lorenzo had to wait until 1959 to conquer a new local championship.

Another title came in 1968, when San Lorenzo won the Metropolitano tournament with a team known as 'The Matadors'. They were the first team to get a championship undefeated with 16 wins and 8 draws.

But then would come the lean years as the team would be leveraged to the hilt, the Gasometer would close and San Lorenzo would go into a historic decline in 1981, being the first of the popular clubs to fall to the second division. Their year in the second division in 1982 was unforgettable, with crowds that followed the team where ever they played.

The drought would pass however and San Lorenzo would return to the new Gasometer stadium, opened in 1993. In June 1995, more than two decades from their last domestic title, they once again can be called champion. They squeaked out a 1-0 victory over Central which put them one point above Gimnasia La Plata in the table.

Although the club has never won a Copa Libertadores, they have had the pleasure of winning two continental trophies -the 2001 Copa CONMEBOL and the 2002 Copa Sudamericana.

They also added to their resume the 2001 Clausura with Chilean Manuel Pellegrini as manager in a campaign that included 11 straight wins. They also won the 2007 Clausura under the direction of Ramón Díaz.

In recent years they have alternated between good campaigns and not so good, and even narrowly escaped another relegation in the 2011-2012 where they saved themselves in the last round of the championship and then in a playoff. But just a year and a half later they can again be called champion.

 

Text and photo: conmebol.com

Edition: conmebol.com