087. Pedro Cea
One of the first real superstars of international football, Uruguayan inside-left Pedro Cea was renowned as one of the best in his position despite being predominantly right footed. Having started his playing career with Lito FC, it was with one of Uruguay’s biggest clubs, Nacional, that he would spend most of his career.
Cea’s first real breakthrough came while he was still playing with Lito. Some of the top clubs in Uruguay formed a breakaway federation, so the team for the 1923 Copa America featured a lot of newcomers from teams still within the official competitions, and it was there that Cea got his chance. He scored once in three games as Uruguay won the tournament on home soil, and then exactly repeated the feat as they retained the title a year later.
Cea and Uruguay really came to the world’s attention at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, where they cruised through the tournament to take the gold medal, Cea himself scoring in the final against Switzerland. His performances in the Copa America and the Olympics alerted bigger clubs to Cea’s abilities and in 1925 he moved to Nacional, where he would spend two spells over the next decade.
In 1928, Uruguay went to Amsterdam to defend their Olympic title. Again they cruised through to the final, but needed a narrow 2-1 replay win to overcome fierce rivals Argentina and give Cea his second Olympic gold medal. Two years later, Uruguay hosted the first ever World Cup and Cea turned out to be one of the players of the tournament. He scored five goals in four games, including a hat-trick in the semi-final against Yugoslavia and a crucial equaliser as Uruguay came from behind to once again beat Argentina in the final.
After leaving Nacional in 1930, Cea returned four years later and won his only domestic honour, as Nacional took the Uruguayan League title in 1934. After ending his playing career in 1935, Cea coached the Uruguayan national team to second place in the 1941 Copa America and to victory in the competition a year later. Spending his later years working as a radio commentator, he died in 1970 shortly after his 70th birthday.