In the pre-television world he was football’s first international superstar. He was also its first black superstar and its first rags-to-riches-to-rags player whose life story would make a good film. Some have called him ‘the first Pelé’. Others see him more as ‘the first David Beckham’, a sporting sex symbol with a touch more style than substance.September 4, 2019
Footage of the first World Cup final in 1930 is scarce. The clips on YouTube are grainy, brief and hard to follow, so it is impossible to tell what part José Leandro Andrade played in Uruguay’s 4-2 victory over Argentina.
According to accounts from those who were there his form, speed and influence had started to wane; yet his name still appears in the Fifa team of the tournament. That final would be his last appearance for Uruguay, the best team in the world in the 1920s.
There is a little more footage of him in the Olympic Games of 1924 and 1928, in Paris and Amsterdam, both won by Uruguay. As Andrade stylishly controls a pass and tricks his way past a Swiss defender in the Paris final he is described by the commentator as “the Black Pearl, the first global star of international football”.