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Football In Pernambuco

Football in Pernambuco was also introduced by a Brazilian who had studied in Europe, in this case Guilherme de Aquino Fonseca, a Pernambuco native.

Football In Pernambuco

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 16/09/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

As with what happened in other Brazilian states, football in Pernambuco was also introduced by a Brazilian who had studied in Europe, in this case Guilherme de Aquino Fonseca, a Pernambuco native.

Son of João de Aquino Fonseca and Maria Eugênia Regadas de Aquino Fonseca, Guilherme went to study in England, at the age of 13, at Hooton Lown School, where he learned to play the game. In 1903, on his return to Recife and fascinated by the sport, he decided to form a club where football, cricket, rugby and tennis could be played. He brought all the material and equipment needed to play these sports from England, however he would have to face many difficulties.

At the time, there were already two sporting clubs in the city, Internacional and Náutico. Neither of the two, however, offered activities for an active sporting life. Internacional, originally a rowing club, was limited to hosting balls and card games. On the other hand, Náutico,founded on 7 April 1901 and dedicated exclusively to water sports such as rowing, practically had no competitions because of a lack of opponents.

Guilherme made several attempts to convince the directors of Náutico to adopt football, but there was an opposing group who claimed that football was not a sport, but merely passing a ball around. He then turned to the employees of the English company Great Western, who used to play on weekends at home, managing to have some games on improvised fields in the Derby neighbourhood.
In 1904, gathering together eleven players, he managed to play an experimental match against the team from Great Western. On 13 May of the following year, he officially founded Sport Club Recife.

On 22 June 1905, the first football match in Pernambuco was held between Sport Club Recife and the English Eleven, a team made up of workers from English companies based in Recife. The encounter was held on the Derby field, at the place where the football field of the Polícia Militar de Pernambuco (Pernambuco Military Police) is today located. Despite the pre-match favouritism of the English, Sport managed a 2-all draw, whose achievement was later praised by the press of the time.

The Jornal do Recife newspaper published a report on the match, which could be considered as the first sporting chronicle written in the Pernambuco press:

The promising association Sport Club Recife played, yesterday, in Dérbi, a match described in these lines. It was five o’clock in the afternoon when the fun began, with the notable presence of a large number of families. From the beginning of the match it could be clearly seen that the players from both Sport and the English Eleven were matched in strength, beginning the game with an attack by the former on the latter, well defended by the goal-keepers and by the backers. We note the lack of spite on the part of the combatants, with the result of the match a tie to be decided in a future bout. For Sport, Amorim Colander andTorquato Gonçalves, who made a splendid play with his head, stood out, and for the English Eleven we turn to the outstanding Bradford andMielar. We congratulate the futuristic club, hoping that the next game will be in better conditions and not like yesterday, full of mud, which dampened the good fun. During the match a Police marching band played.

In the first ten years of football in Pernambuco, the press reported the games calling the players “senhor” (sir) or “doutor” (doctor), using various English words, for example team, goal, goal-keeper, match, referee, foul, centre-forward, dribbling, corner, off-side, penalty, full-back. Some of these words were intentionally corrupted, like quipa (keeper), centrefó (centre-forward), dribe (dribble), córne (corner),while others were incorporated into football vocabulary in Brazil, like off-sideandpenalty.

The second game between Náutico and Sport, which finished nil-all, was played in August 1909, as described in this report published in the Jornal Pequeno:

It has been a long time since we have had a matchso anxiously awaited and with such competitiveness as yesterday at the Santana ground, played between members of the Sport Club and Náutico Capibaribe clubs, between Brazilian teams. [...] At 4:25 sounded the whistle of the referee, Mr Tonkinson, to begin the match.Thekick-offwas given to the forwardfrom the Sportteam, taking the ball straight in the direction of the Náuticogoal where it remained the whole time. [...] We greatly liked the beautiful shootadas (shots)of the bravefull-backsManoel GuimarãesJ únior and José Maia. Distinguishing themselves for their driblings (dribbling) and passes wereMessrs Américo Silva, Alberto Amorim, Horácio B. da Cunha and João do AmorimJúnior. [...] We congratulate the two societies for the outcome of the match.

After 1911, football teams began to appear from various Recife suburbs and in 1914, there wasn’t just Sport, Náuticoand Tramways –a team made up of Englishmen maintained byPernambuco Tramways, an electric company that was the origins of the Companhia de Eletricidade de Pernambuco (Pernambuco Electric Company), or CELPE. The clubs founded were Santa Cruz FutebolClube, Paulistano, Internacional, Centro Esportivo do Peres, ColigaçãoRecifense, AgrosEsporteClube, made up of students from the Escola de Agronomia de Socorro (Socorro School of Agronomy), replaced soon after by Torre EsporteClube, Caxangá, EsporteClubeFlamengo, Casa Forte, Olinda, João de Barros (América’s origin), Velox, Americano, Pernambuco and many others.

On 16 June 1915, the LigaSportivaPernambucana(Pernambuco Sporting League – LSP) was created, today the Federação Pernambucana de Futebol (Pernambuco Football Federation – FPF), which promoted the first Pernambuco championship, taking place from August that year, with the following clubs: Santa Cruz, Torre, América, Centro Esportivo do Peres and Coligação Esportiva Recifense. The event was won by the undefeated FlamengoEsporteClube, after they beat the team from Torre 3-1.

The second championship was held the following year, 1916, with the participation of four more teams: Clube Náutico Capibaribe, Sport Club Recife, Paulistaand Casa Forte. The champion was Sport, who also won it in 1917. Santa Cruz won its first title in 1931 andNáutico in 1934.

Up until this time, football matches were held at the Derby field. From 1916, games began to be played at the field of the Britsh Club, located in Ponte d’Uchoa, which had its clubhouse at the place where today the Museu do Estado (State Museum) is situated, onRui Barbosa Ave.In 1917, the LSP opened its official ground, Eládio de Barros Carvalho, located in the neighbourhood of Aflitos, which today belongs to ClubeNáuticoCapibaribe.
In 1919, Sport opened its stadium on Malaquias Ave, which was considered the best of its time. There was also the pitch of América, América Park, located in the neighbourhood ofJaqueira.

Em 1928, ABC’s stadium was also opened, inApipucos, which became known as Bebinho Salgado. TheIlha do Retiro stadium, also belonging to Sport, was opened in 1937, and in 1966, the José do Rego Maciel stadium opened, known as Colosso do Arruda (The ArrudaColossus), with a capacity of 60 thousand people, owned by Santa Cruz Futebol Clube.

Today there are various stadiums in the interior of Pernambuco, such as the Gigante do Agreste Meridionaland the Gerson Emery, in Garanhuns; Severino Cândido Carneiro, inVitória de Santo Antão; Pedro Victor/Luis Lacerdaand Antonio Inácio de Souza, both in Caruaru; Manoel A. da Mota (Galegão), in Petrolândia; Otávio Limeira Alves, in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe; Cornélio de Barros, inSalgueiro; Nildo Pereira (Pereirão), in Serra Talhada; Souto Maior, in Arcoverde; that of the Associação Rural, in Petrolina; Vila Olímpica do SESC, in Belo Jardim; Gaudenção, inItacuruba; Carlos Alberto Oliveira, in Surubim; José Vareda, inLimoeiro; Gileno de Carli, inCabo de Santo Agostinho; Jéferson de Freitas, inJaboatão dos Guararapes; Ferreira Lima, inTimbaúba; Carlos Santana, inIpojuca; Agamenon Magalhães, in Goiana; Estádio Municipal, in Nossa Senhora do Ó.

From 1919 to 1981, Pernambuco football held the TorneioInício (Starting Tournament), which officially opened the championship. Sport was the team that obtained the most number of trophies in the competition, winning eighteen, followed by Náutico, with fourteen, Santa Cruz with twelve and Américawith eleven. Also becoming champions of the TorneioInício wereÍbis, known today as the worst team in the world, in 1948 and 1950; Auto Sport, in 1951; Ferroviário, in 1961, and the teams from Caruaru:Central, in 1973, and Caruaru, in 1981. Despite the public interest, which filled the stadiums, due to a busy schedule and a lack of interest from the clubs, the Pernambuco Football Federation retired the competition in 1981.

The first night game in Pernambuco was on 13 May 1928, at the Ambolê ground, belonging to the Varzeano Futebol Clube, located in the Várzea neighbourhood, in celebration of the eleventh anniversary of its foundation. Wooden posts with powerful reflectors were installed on each side of the field, along with a network of many lamps around the field.The same system, designed and installed by the firm George Kirilosand Co. – was later set up on the field at MalaquiasAve and at the field of ABC, inApipucos. At this time, Recife suburban football was on a roll, with the creation of the

AssociaçãoSuburbana dos DesportosTerrestres (Suburban Association of Land Sports – ASDT), on 1 February 1929. Its first affiliates were the following teams: Tráfego, Aurora, Fluminense, Afogadense, Arruda Diversional, Monteirense, Santo Dumont, Independência, Varzeano, Cordeirense, Rio Branco, Palmeiras, Torre, Associação Atlética do Arruda, Auto Sport, Nacional, Pina, Recife, Rio Corrente, Jutaí, Ateniense, Tuiuti, ABC, Íris, Great Western and Tejipió.

On 28 April that year, with the participation of 38 clubs, the ASDT held its TorneioInício (Starting Tournament), at América’s ground, whose champion,Ateniense, also won the championship that year, becoming called by supporters ‘pai dos subúrbios’ (‘father of the suburbs’).

In 1930, the large growth of suburban football, which drew crowds to the grounds, led newspapers to create a page dedicated exclusively to the ASDT games. Because of the quality of football on display, some of these teams made it into the first division of the Pernambuco championship.

With the outbreak of the 1930 Revolution, there was great disruption for Pernambuco football, especially in October, with the deposition of the governor, Estácio Coimbra. The championship hadn’t finished, with Torre being declared champion, as they were leading the competition.
From 1930 to 1939, professional football grew in Brazil. The first player to sign a contract in Pernambuco wasLuizGago, signing with Central,from Caruaru, in 1937.

From 1940, Pernambuco football began to be recognised nationally. Two factors contributed to this: the number of good players “exported” to clubs in the South and Southeast regions, and a tour by Sport Clube do Recife to the States of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul at the end of 1941 and beginning of 1942, which was a brilliant campaign with them managing to defeat great southern teams like Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Atlético Mineiro, Coritiba, Internacional and Grêmio.

Pernambuco had the honour of hosting an official match of the 1950 World Cup between the teams from Chile andthe United States, which was held at Ilha do Retiroand won 5-2 by Chile. The first Pernambuco football idol was Pitota (AlcindoWanderley), record goal scorer in the 1917 and 1919 championships – who was a player for TamoioFutebol Clubefrom Olinda and later for Santa Cruz. The leading goal-scorer is the Espírito-Santo-born Baiano, who set a mark of 118 goals in three seasons (1981 – 1983 championships), who is also the record-holder with 40 strikes per championship and the highest goal-scorer in official games in Brazil in a season, winning, in 1982 and 1983, the Golden Boot trophy, awarded by Adidas. Another great striker was Tará (HumbertoViana), a forward who for years played for Santa Cruz, and also for Náutico (1943-1947), managing to score nine goals in one game, a record that was only broken in 1976 by another Pernambuco player, Dario ‘Peito de Aço’ (‘Steel Chest’),who achieved the feat of scoring ten goals in a single game.

Pernambuco has always provided stars to national football, with various representatives in Brazilian World Cup teams: Ademir Menezes (Ademir Marques de Menezes, “Queixadá”), in 1950 – the first Brazilian to be leading goalscorer in World Cups, with nine goals; Vavá (Edvaldo Izídio Neto), known as “peito de aço” (“steel chest”) (1958 and 1962); Zequinha (José Ferreira Franco, 1962); Rildo (da Costa Menezes), who played in the 1966 Cup in England; goalkeeper Manga (Hailton Correa de Arruda, 1966); Ricardo Rocha (1990 and 1994); Rivaldo (VitorBorba Ferreira, 1998 and 2002), voted world player of the year in 1999 and second best at the 2002 World Cup; JuninhoPernambucano (Antonio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Júnior, 2006) and Josué (Anunciado de Oliveira), born in Vitória de Santo Antão, who played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

From the 1990s, there was a great push for promoting Pernambuco football in the interior of the state, driven by the Pernambuco Football Federation, creating opportunities for cities like Caruaru, Garanhuns, Serra Talhada, Petrolina, Arcoverde, Salgueiro, Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, Vitória de Santo Antão, and others, to have representatives in the official competition.

The team from Salgueiro, in 2010, achieved a great victory: being promoted from division C to division B in the Brazilian Football Championship.

From the beginning of football championships in Pernambuco, in 1915, until 2010, Sport Clube do Recife was the team that won the most number of Pernambuco championships, with 39 titles (the first in 1916), followed by Santa Cruz, with 24 (the first in 1931) and Náutico, who won 21 titles, with the first being in 1934.

Santa Cruz FutebolClubeis the only team to have participated in every championship (1915 to 2010),andClubeNáuticoCapibaribe is the only one to win six straight titles (1963 to 1968).

Also champions were Flamengo Esporte Clube, in 1915, América Futebol Clube, with six titles, and Tramways Sport Club, a team made up of workers from the English company Pernambuco Tramways and Power Company Limited, responsible for the tram and electrical energy services in Recife at the time, with two titles.

Below are the champion Pernambuco teams from 1915 to 2010, with the years they won the title:
FlamengoEsporteClube – 1915.,
Sport Club do Recife – 1916-1917, 1920, 1923-1925, 1928, 1938, 1941-1943, 1948-1949, 1953, 1955-1956, 1958, 1961-1962, 1975, 1977, 1980-1982, 1988, 1991-1992, 1994, 1996-2000 (5 consecutive championships), 2003, 2006-2010 (5 consecutive championships). América Futebol Clube – 1918-1919, 1921-1922, 1927, 1944.
Torre Futebol Clube – 1926, 1929-1930.
Santa Cruz Futebo lClube – 1931-1933, 1935, 1940, 1946-1947, 1957, 1959, 1969-1973 (5 consecutive championships), 1976, 1978-1979, 1983, 1986-1987, 1990, 1993, 1995, 2005.
Clube Náutico Capibaribe – 1934, 1939, 1945, 1950-1952, 1954, 1960, 1963-1968 (6 consecutive championships), 1974, 1984-1985, 1989, 2001-2002, 2004.
Tramways Sport Club – 1936-1937.



Recife, 17 november 2010.

sources consulted

ALVES, Givanildo. História do futebol pernambucano (1903/1950). Recife: Governo de Pernambuco, Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1978.

CARVALHO, Lucas. Pernambucanos na Copa. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 9 nov. 2010.


FERREIRA, José Maria. História dos campeonatos: memória do futebol pernambucano (1915 a 2007). Recife: CEPE, 2007. 

A HISTÓRIA ilustrada do futebol brasileiro. [S.l.]: Edobras, [1968?]. v. 2.S


how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Football In Pernambuco.  Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009