Arthur Friedenreich is among the most prominent Brazilian idols at the time of amateurism, during the 1910s and 1920s, in a long trajectory that lasted until the beginning of the 1930s. Fried, as he was known, was São Paulo's top scorer nine times and won international titles for the national team, such as the South Americans of 1919 and 1922. Nicknamed “El Tigre” for his exploits in the matches against Uruguayans and Argentines, he was praised for his ability to make body dribbles, goals tipping the ball over the goalkeeper and feints with one-two passes.
Fried was born in the last decade of the 19th century, a few years after the Abolition of Slavery and the Proclamation of the Republic. Son of an immigrant of German origin, the architect and engineer Oscar Friedenreich, and of a black mother, Mathilde de Moraes e Silva, a descendant of slaves and a teacher in the public school system, his presence in football carried the fight against the racial inequality, which caused discomfort and ambivalence in football . An example of the atavistic marks of Brazilian slavery was the veto by the then President of the Republic, Epitácio Pessoa, for Friedenreich to represent the Brazilian National Team in a match in Argentina, in 1921, with the aim of preventing Brazilians from being called “macaquitos” (little monkeys) ” by rivals.
A contemporary figure of the modernists, Friedenreich became a reference for authors of this generation, who saw in football a modern manifestation, typical of the rhythm of life in cities. His name is mentioned in the Modern Art Week of 1922, during the opening conference of the writer Menotti Del Picchia. He also later wrote the screenplay for a film about football in which Friedenreich participated as an actor. The idol also caught the attention of Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade who, throughout the 1920s, invoked idolatry of this player in several poems, chronicles and manifestos of modernism.
In a frontal pose, Arthur Friedenreich appears wearing the Club Athletico Paulistano uniform, the association for which he stood out as a great scorer, taking him to the Brazilian National Team. Photograph: Unknown Author | Club Athletico Paulistano Collection.
In his side, Friedenreich in a match valid for the Brazilian Championship of State Teams – Rio de Janeiro X São Paulo, competition created in 1922. Photograph: Unknown Author | Jcom / D. A Press Collection.
In the 1940s, Arthur Friedenreich, idol of amateurism, meets Leônidas da Silva, icon of professionalism, when he played for São Paulo. Photo: in História do Futebol no Brasil – 1894-1950 | Edições Leia.