CARDS P05: Trickster P07: Mazing Run P19: Chasing Back P20: Talisman S02: Passer S14: Quick Turn
SPECIAL ABILITIES: *Dribbling *Playmaking *Passing *Scoring
Attack/Defence Awareness Card: Balanced
Argentine football player who starred with the club River Plate during the 1940s and was a member of its celebrated La Máquina (The Machine) attack, considered by many as the best attacking line in the history of South American club football. In 1999, he was ranked among the 25 best players in the world in the 20th century and among the five best in South America, through a poll by the IFFHS.
'Charro' Moreno is still considered by many who saw him play to have been the greatest footballer of all time. He was a player with great technique, superior ball skills, creative in midfield, and lethal in the penalty area. He was equally adept with both legs and formidable heading the ball. In addition to his technical virtues, he played with great intelligence, and he also had that elusive instinct which is native to all superior goalscorers, as shown by his statistics which indicate he scored an average of half a goal per match throughout his career,
Moreno was an inside right for most of his career, but was equally at home in midfield as inside the penalty area. In River’s famous ‘La Maquina’ he would often withdraw to midfield to organize the team, and to help with ball recovery. He was a natural athlete who could outrun most players on the field, even though he payed little attention to training. He smoked, drank, was famous for his nighttime escapades, and yet his career outlasted that of most of his contemporaries, as he played until the age of 44.
Moreno was born August 3rd 1916, to a poor family in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of ‘La Boca’. He grew up playing football in the shadow of ‘La Bombonera’, Boca Juniors stadium, and was a huge fan of the club. At the age of 15 he tried out for Boca and scored two goals in a practice game, yet he was rejected. Moreno was crushed by this rejection by the club he loved, and he angrily told the trainer that he would live to regret that decision for the rest of his life. Shortly after he tried out and was signed by archrival River Plate.
His debut at River with the first division club was in 1934, at the age of 18, during a tour of Brazil, in a match against Botafogo which River won 2-1. At the beginning he lined up on the left side, alongside legendary players like Peucelle, Renato Cesarini and Bernabe Ferreira. In his first two full seasons with River, Moreno was the top goalscorer in the club, ahead of Bernabe Ferreira.
After these players retired, Moreno moved to the right, and the famous team called ‘La Maquina’ (the Machine) was formed, with Pedernera as centerforward, Labruna and Lostau on the left, and Munoz as the outside right.
At this time River Plate became the elite team in Argentina, and Moreno was its biggest star, displaying his great dribbling, his dominant air game, his strategic acumen, his ability with the ball, his power, his goals, and even his sacrifice in recovery. With River Plate, Moreno won the Argentine title in 1936, 1937, 1941, 1942 and 1947.
The forward line of 'La Maquina'
In 1944, he was lured to Mexico with a lucrative offer by Club Espana, and with this club he conquered Mexico and won the Mexican league title in 1945.
He returned to River in 1946, scoring three goals in his return match, a 5-1 victory over Atlanta and one of his greatest exhibitions. After the match, the ecstatic crowd broke down the protective fence and invaded the pitch, to celebrate with their idol. During this time Moreno was joined at River by a new teammate who later became one of the great players of all time, Alfredo Di Stefano. Di Stefano recalls Moreno fondly as a mentor and tells many stories about how Moreno influenced him as a young player.
One of these stories tells of a match against Tigre, when Moreno was hit in the head by a projectile from the stands and went down, bleeding profusely. Di Stefano recalls that he asked if he should call for assistance, and Moreno replied with an angry profanity. He got back up, called the young DiStefano and told him: ‘Kid, listen to me carefully. If a player goes down on the field and he doesn’t get back up on his own, it better be because he's dead.' Moreno continued playing as if nothing had happened. Di Stefano was impressed by that incident, and throughout his great career, no matter how hurt he was, he never asked for assistance from the bench. Di Stefano adds that he is glad that Moreno isn’t around to watch today’s players, as they shamefully fall down and stay down over the most minimal contact.
In 1948 Argentine players went on strike, and Moreno was transferred to Universidad Catolica of Chile for the sum of 1.5 million argentine pesos, an outrageous amount at the time. He led the ‘U’ to the Chilean title in 1949, at the age of 34, and in the process became a legend in yet another country.
In 1949 Boca Juniors had the worst season in its history, and needed a win in its final match of the season to avoid relegation. The club was depleted and saddled in debt. Moreno felt for Boca as much as the average fan, and so decided it was time to patch up with his first love, let bygones be bygones, and fulfil his childhood dream of wearing the blue and gold shirt. He joined Boca Juniors and brought his magic to ‘La Bombonera, but was unable to give them a title, leading them to a second place finish in 1950.
After playing some time in Uruguay, he joined Deportivo Independiente Medellin of Colombia. Now playing primarily deeper in midfield, he served as Player/Coach for three years, winning two Colombian league titles. He retired in 1957, but in 1960 he was called back by DIM. Again, he served as player/coach. By this time he would primarily coach from the bench, but he would put himself in for a few minutes whenever he felt his team was in trouble and needed help, often bailing them out by scoring one or two goals. With this arrangement, they almost won another league title, finishing in second place.
Moreno retired in 1961 at the age of 44. He played a final exhibition match for Independiente Medellin against Boca Juniors, scoring two goals.
Throughout his career Moreno played 359 official first division matches, scoring 179 goals.
For Argentina’s national team Moreno played 33 matches and scored 20 goals. With Argentina he won the South American title in 1941 and in 1947.
After his retirement, Moreno coached several clubs, including both Boca Juniors and River Plate, as well as Argentina's national team.
Moreno died August 26 1978. But he remains alive in memory to every fan who watched him play.