Amadeo CarrizoArgentina



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Born: Saturday 12 June 1926, Rufino, Argentina
Position: Goalkeeper


Credited with being the first goalkeeper to wear gloves on the pitch, Argentinian Amadeo Carrizo was very influential in developing the way his position was played and his style can be seen reflected in future generations of South American keepers.  Although unorthodox for his time, Carrizo was also a very effective goalkeeper who was at the heart of the great River Plate team which dominated Argentinian football for much of the 1950s.


Carrizo was born in the town of Rufino on 12 June 1926.  From an early age he played as a goalkeeper, although in his early years he also occasionally appeared as a forward, joining neighbourhood team El Fortin at the age of ten.  Growing up a fan of Independiente, it would be with their rivals River Plate that he made his move into top level football after former Olympic athlete Hector Berra recommended him to the club.  Carrizo signed for River in 1943 and made his debut two years later at the age of 19, coincidentally against Independiente in a match that River won 2-1.


River Plate won league titles in 1945 and 1947, but Carrizo's opportunities were extremely limited and by the end of the 1947 season he had still only made three league appearances for River Plate.  In the 1948 season however he did finally get a run in the team, playing 17 times, and from 1949 onwards he was first choice, remaining so for almost 20 years.  He became known as a player who was prepared to advance far outside his penalty area to break down opposing attacks, one of the first goalkeepers ever to do so.  He also developed the skill of using longer goal kicks to set up attacks for his own team.


Carrizo became established in River's first team at a time when they were largely rebuilding their team after the break-up of the side which had won four league titles in seven seasons in the 1940s.  In 1951 he narrowly missed out on a first league title as a regular player when River finished third in the league after a tight three-way battle with Racing Club and Banfield, but success was not far away.  The 1952 season brought a first championship in five years, reversing the outcome of twelve months earlier as River finished a single point ahead of Racing Club.


Another league title followed in 1953 and the following year Carrizo finally got an opportunity to play at international level, although he never won as many caps as his abilities may have suggested he should.  Argentina were not very active in international football during the early years of his career, having not taken part in the World Cups of 1950 and 1954.  Even when they did take part in South American Championship tournaments in the 1950s, he was often overlooked in favour of other goalkeepers.


At domestic level however the success continued to come.  Although River Plate lost their league title in 1954 they won it straight back twelve months later and would go on to win three championships in a row by 1957.  In 1958 Carrizo did at last have the chance to play in a major international tournament when Argentina qualified for the World Cup finals in Sweden, but the national team was at something of a low ebb in its history and clearly lagged some way behind the European teams they had to face.  Although they beat Northern Ireland 3-1, defeats to West Germany and Czechoslovakia saw Argentina finish bottom of their first round group, with the 6-1 loss to the Czechs one of the low points of Carrizo's career.


As with the late 1940s, River Plate entered another period of transition in the late 1950s as their previously all-conquering team began to break up.  In 1959 they finished a full 13 points off the pace and although they would recover somewhat to finish runners-up five times in seven seasons during the 1960s, they did not win another title during Carrizo's career.  The 1960s did however bring perhaps the highlight of his international career when he returned to the Argentinian team for the one-off 'Nations Cup' tournament in Brazil.


That tournament was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Brazilian FA, with Argentina being invited to take part along with Portugal and England.  Although he was very nearly 38 years old, Carrizo played all three of Argentina's games and kept three clean sheets, as the team won the competition with a 100% record.  The 3-0 win over Brazil was his finest performance, making save after save to deny the star-studded line-up of the reigning world champions.


As he approached his 40th birthday in 1966, Carrizo was still a regular in the River Plate goal. That year the club reached the final of the Copa Libertadores for the first time, where they would face Peñarol of Uruguay. River lost the first match but won the second to force a play-off, where they led 2-0 at half-time. On the hour mark, Carrizo made a relatively simple save with his chest rather than his hands, which Peñarol took as an affront to their pride and would later credit for inspiring their subsequent fightback. They scored twice to force extra-time and two more in the additional period to leave River derided as chokers by the media.


Over the next couple of years, Carrizo's appearances for River gradually became less frequent.  By the end of the 1968 season he had fallen out of favour and made the decision to leave the club after 23 years as a first team player, moving to Millonarios in Colombia.  In all he played 513 top flight games for River, a record at the time.  During his time at the club Carrizo also set a record for consecutive clean sheets with eight.  After two years with Millonarios, he finally brought an end to his long playing career at the age of 44.


Returning to Argentina in his retirement, Carrizo had a short spell as coach of Deportivo Armenio but soon returned to River Plate where he worked in a public relations role.  He has continued to be fondly remembered by his former clubs, with River Plate and Millonarios playing a friendly match for a cup named in his honour in 2004.  His influence has continued to be seen in the style of goalkeepers in South American through flamboyant stars like Colombia's René Higuita and José Luis Chilavert of Paraguay, who also made regular forays outside their penalty areas.


References (all accessed 19 March 2012):ético_River_Plate