soccer has almost always played second fiddle to the World Cup,
the quadrennial event has produced its fair share of great
teams, players and collectibles.
Olympic games have been the domain of Under-23 players, and for
the period after WWII were confined to "amateur" teams, they
were not always that way. In fact one of the sport's
greatest--and least known--dynasties performed a medal triple,
winning two Olympic Gold medals and the first World Cup
Uruguay first hit the world soccer scene in 1924, turning into
the sensation of what has become known as the Chariots of Fire
Olympics in Paris 1924.
was nicknamed the Black Pearl long before Pelé earned the
Uruguayans rolled over Yugoslavia 7-0 in the first game of the
tournament, behind the playmaking of Jose Leandro Andrade,
nicknamed The Black Pearl---Pelé was the second to be given that
on to beat the USA 3-0 and the Netherlands 2-1 en route to the
final, which was witnessed by a packed house of 60,000 at
Colombes Stadium. Uruguay then shut out Switzerland 3-0 in the
If there was
any doubt of Uruguay's prowess, it was all but dispelled as they
won a second consecutive gold medal at the the Amsterdam Games
While not as
spectacular as they had been in Paris, the Uruguayans stopped
the U.S. 3-0, Germany 4-1 and Italy 3-2 on the way to a final
matchup with Argentina. In the only all-South American Olympic
final ever, Uruguay and Argentina played to a 1-1 tie, with
Uruguay taking the replay 2-1 three days later.
years later, these two sides met again in the finals of the
first World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay, with the home team
prevailing to cap an amazing string of soccer titles.
early Olympic soccer memorabilia turns up from time to time both
on eBay and at major shows such as Atlantique City, newer items
are much easier to find, particularly programs, tickets and
pins have become such a huge collectible, organizing committees
and sponsors have produced single sport pins, making a variety
of soccer pins for each Olympic games.
Programs are a little more difficult to find, since organizers
of recent games have opted to replace single-sport programs with
one larger, corporate-produced book encompassing the entire
Games, which is usually the only one distributed off site
through mail order or news agents.