Luis Monti

Football's Pioneers: Luis Monti

Dr Mark Orton from De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History & Culture recalls Luis Monti, who appeared in two FIFA World Cup Finals for two different teams.
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In this World Cup season for both the men’s and the women’s teams, staff and students at the Centre will focus on those players, managers and administrators who have made their mark on the development of the competitions. 

Unique as the only player to appear in World Cup finals for both Argentina and Italy, Monti was born in Buenos Aires on 15 May, 1901. He began his career with General Mitre before making his reputation as a centre-half with San Lorenzo, with whom he played 202 games, scored 40 goals and won the Argentine Championship in 1923, 1924 and 1927.

Nicknamed ‘Double Wide’ because of his apparent ability to cover every blade of grass on the pitch, Monti’s rugged style made him a tough opponent. His form soon brought him to the attention of Argentine selectors, making his international debut in August 1924, going on to win the South American Championship in 1927 and a silver medal at the 1928 Olympics, where he captained the side.

Monti was a key member of the Argentine team that reached the final in the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, scoring the winner in the opening game against France. However, his below par performance in that final was a matter of huge controversy, with numerous conspiracy theories claiming that threats had been made against his life and that of his family if Argentina won.

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Luis Monti
Luis Monti

After featuring in the World Cup Final for Argentina (see lead image), Monti (second from the left) did the same for Italy in the 1934 showpiece.

Monti was subsequently scapegoated by his countrymen for Argentina’s 4–2 defeat to Uruguay. A year after his 1930 World Cup humiliation and after earning 16 caps for Argentina, Monti left for Italy, the land of his forebears to sign for Juventus, where he won four Italian league titles.

Following the 1926 Viareggio Charter, Italian teams were prevented from contracting foreign players, but clubs bypassed this ruling by signing South American players with Italian heritage to improve their squads. Along with three of his Italo-Argentine compatriots; Raimundo Orsi, Attilio Demaría and Enrique Guaita, Monti was selected for the Italian squad that won the 1934 World Cup on home soil.

In all, Monti played 18 times for Italy between 1932 and 1936, as well as making 225 appearances for Juventus before retiring in 1939. Despite Italy being involved in the Second World War, Monti remained in Europe to begin his coaching career, taking charge of Triestina, Juventus, Varese and Atalanta before returning to Argentina as coach of Huracán in 1947.

Monti died on 9 September, 1983 at the age of 82, with Italian journalist writing in his obituary in Tutto Sport that ‘Argentina has sent us great footballers, but Luisito Monti was different. A great player and a man of honour. The generation that knew him, smile in final homage and regret’.

For more information about sports history at DMU, click HERE

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