Not a particularly big player, Juan Alberto Schiaffino defied those who thought he would fail against some of the toughest defenders in international soccer and became one of the best inside-forwards of the 1950s. Born in Montevideo in 1925, Schiaffino broke into the Peñarol youth team as a 17 year old and a year later was a first-teamer. At 19, he was a member of Uruguay’s South American championship squad.
In the 1950 World Cup he was the second highest goal scorer with five goals, including an equalizer against Brazil in the final, which set Uruguay on the road to victory. Four years later, an injury to Schiaffino in the semifinal against Hungary saw the South Americans defeated. AC Milan paid a world record £72.000 for Schiaffino shortly after the 1954 World Cup. Six months later he played his first game for Italy and then helped his club to three Championships and to the 1958 European Cup final.
When he was 33, he moved to AS Roma and spent two seasons with them before retiring in 1962. In 1976, after nearly 15 years away from the game, Schiaffino took charge of Peñarol and had a brief spell as the Uruguayan national team manager. He played for Uruguay 48 times and Italy on four occasions.