When Guillermo Stabile struck the ball into the bottom left corner of the post to give Argentina 2-1 lead in the final of 1930 World Cup, he etched his name in Football history forever.
Stabile’s goal in the first half of the match earned him the Golden Boot making him the first recipient of the award. Stabile was the highest scorer of the tournament with 8 goals in four matches, a total bettered only four times since.
Guillermo Stabile was born in 1905 in Parque Patricios, a region in Buenos Aires. He had a seeming talent from an early age that helped him to join the local youth club Sportivo Métan. By 1920, he was picked up by Club Atletico Huracan and by 1924 he was promoted to the first team. That was the beginning of a six-year fantastic career of Stabile at Huracan.
He started out as a right wing but soon evolved into a centre forward. Huracan had already won the Primera División in 1921 and 1922. Stabile’s inclusion further strengthened the team and he became instrumental in giving his club two more league titles- in 1925 and 1928.
Stabile quickly established himself as a strong contender for the national jersey with 102 league goals in 119 club appearances. But still he was unable to find a place in the much-talented Argentine squad.
Argentina, at that time was one of the strongest South American football nations having won four South American Championships and the 1928 Olympic silver medal as well. Just before the 1930 World Cup, Stábile got an unexpected call to join the national squad. But no one expected him to play a match as the regular playing eleven were in best of form.
But fate played its part as Stábile was picked up in the playing eleven in the second match against Mexico due to the backing out of Roberto Cherro for anxiety attack. He scored the first, third and final goals in the 6-3 win of Argentina and became the first hat-trick scorer on debut. He followed up this performance with impressive braces against Chile in the final group game and the USA in the semi-final. His goal against Uruguay in the final was one of the finest in the tournament.
Famously known as the ‘Infiltrator’ for his ability to pierce through opponent’s defense, Guillermo Stabile never played for his country again after that thrilling final, though being just 25. His talent was noticed across nations and he was offered a lucrative deal from the Italian club Genoa. In those days when cross-continental shifting of players was nearly impossible, Stabile stood out against all odds. He signed for Genoa leaving his alma matter Huracan and instantly became famous in Europe.
Guillermo Stabile’s career in Genoa took off a flying start as he turned this debut too into a highly successful one. He scored a hat-trick against league leaders Bologna. His high-skilled performance continued but two severe injuries in his right leg- one in 1931 (he fractured his fibula after colliding with keeper Giuseppe Rapetti) and the other in 1933 (he broke his tibia following a clash with Fiorentina Galluzzi)- mired his playing career. It is rumoured that Benito Mussolini himself wanted to include Stábile in the Italian national team for the 1934 World Cup. But his injuries took away all his chances of playing for Italy. Stabile, left Genoa in 1934 after playing there for five years with 41 games and 16 goals.
The next season at Napoli was devastating for Stabile. He was far too away from his elegant form and scored only 3 goals in 20 games. The only bright side during this unsuccessful playing career was Stabile’s learning of coaching and management techniques during his long injury layoffs.
His last stint as a player was with Red Star Paris where he joined as a player-manager. ‘The new idol of Paris’ led his team to the 9th position in the 1936–37 season but was relegated in the very next season. During the 1938–39 season, his team performed remarkably well to win the Ligue 2 and was promoted back to the Ligue 1. With that, Stabile ended his European career on a high note and returned to Argentina some weeks before the World War broke out in the European mainland. He went back with a vast managerial experience that helped him in serving his nation as a brilliant manager.
Guillermo Stabile enjoyed more success and longevity as a coach in the Argentine national team. He took charge of Argentina in 1939 and continued for the next 19 years at the helm of the side. His first success came in 1941 when Argentina won the Campeonato Sudamericano de Football (the precursor of Copa America) in Chile.
By then, Argentina had one of the best forward lines in its history and Stabile used it to the utmost to win three Copa Americas in a row- 1945, 1946 and 1947. During this historic triple winning campaign, Stabile’s Argentina remained undefeated and the side scored 67 goals in 18 games.
As a coach, Guillermo Stabile again won the Copa America in 1955 and 1957. He was temporarily removed as a coach after Argentina’s dismal performance in 1958 World Cup but was called back in 1960. With Argentina, Stabile was the coach for 123 official matches gaining 83 victories.
While managing the national side, Stabile also remained coach in three clubs. In 1940, he took charge of his boyhood club, Huracan. Although, there was no success in tournaments, but under him Hurcan learnt how to adopt new training methods. Next he joined Ferro and after that moved to Racing Club de Avellaneda. The Racing Club won the league title in 1948-49 season. They repeated the honour in 1950 and 1951 and hence became the first Argentine team to win the ‘tricampeonato’, or three in a row.
Guillermo Stabile retired from management in 1960. Post-retirement, he was appointed director of the Argentine national school of football managing, a post he held, until his death in 1966.