by J.P. Devetori
Today August 7th, Universitario de Deportes celebrates their 98th anniversary. 98 years of ups and downs, championship glory, hardships, memorable players, unforgettable moments, and the best fans in the world. 98 years ago, Universitario was founded by University of San Marcos whose mission was to create a league for the faculty and staff. Who would’ve thought at that time that the idea would later become Peru’s most successful club in history.
For 98 years players come and go, and many left memorable moments with the club and Peru. One of the club founding member, Luis de Souza Ferreria scored the 1st ever FIFA World Cup goal for Peru in 1930. Teodoro Lolo Fernandez won his first club title with Universitario in 1934 and won the 1939 Copa America for Peru. Lolo Fernandez’s historic achievements and devotion to the club made him immortalized with a statue in front of the Estadio Monumental. Universitario was dominantly represented in the 1975 Copa America championship team for Peru filled with iconic legends such as Hector “Capitan de America” Chumpitaz, Percy Rojas, Juan Carlos Oblitas, Oswaldo Ramirez, Enrique Casaretto, Julio Aparicio, and the late Otto Sartor. The 1990s was the club’s best decade, winning 5 titles out of 10 years. The successful decade was capped off with a title in 1999 in the “U”‘s arch rival’s stadium, where the cremas had their olympic lap around the field in front of the arch rival’s fans and “U” goalkeeper Oscar Ibañez was seen celebrating on top of the goal cross bar across from the euphoric Universitario fans, forever an iconic image. To kick off the 21’st century, Universitario accomplished their 1st three-peat led by Jose Luis “El Puma” Carranza. The recently-hired Peru national team manager Juan Reynoso led the “U” to their 25th title against their arch-rivals in the Estadio Monumental. MLS star Raul Ruidiaz helped led Universitario to their 26th title, 2 years after the Universitario U-20 squad won the inaugural U-20 Copa Libertadores.
I can’t forget to mention the best fanbase that makes up this great club. The main supporters group, La Trinchera Norte, created the most popular football chant in the world: Esta Tarde. The classic chant is used from countless clubs and national teams all over the world from MLS club New York Red Bulls, Liga MX giant Club America and the United States national team. The titles can be different but the lyrics are very similar which shows how impactful the chant is. Universitario has fans all over the world due to many Peruvians living abroad. With the club facing financial hardships, many Universitario fans from the United States and Canada help form non-profit NGO group Colectivo USA, a group aiming to help the club in different projects. There is also a non-profit organization, EmbajadUr Crema, founded by former Universitario players Rainer Torres, Carlos Galvan, Ali Orejuela, and Miguel Angel Torres, with the goal of fundraising to cover the club’s debts. And after 2 years, the group successfully covered over 150 former players and employee’s debts. The recent obstacles has united the fanbase like never before.
Lastly, Crema Tribune is already celebrating a year of work last month. This blog is dedicated to my grandfather Lucho who was the biggest Universitario de Deportes fan. He used to talk Lolo Fernandez, being at the Estadio Lolo Fernandez, and even going to Matute to watch the “U” win and got chased out (luckily he wasn’t hurt). I wasn’t much of an “U” fan when I was younger, I was more into Europe soccer and MLS. During the days that I last saw my grandfather, I wanted to learn more about the club. After his passing, I promised myself to continue living his passion and love for Universitario. All my work is dedicated to him. The experience led me to begin this blog as well as making new friends who share the same passion in the United States and Peru. I’m forever proud to be fan of Universitario de Deportes and I would like to thank my family who are all “U” fans for sharing this passion with me. Y dale U forever.