The date 1 April 2008 will go down in the history of Argentinian football as the 100th birthday of one of the country's best-loved teams: Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro. FIFA.com brings you the story of El Ciclón, who have grown from humble beginnings to their current status as one of the country's biggest clubs.
Birth of an institution
Our tale begins way back in 1908, when a youngster kicking a ball about the streets of Almagro in Buenos Aires was nearly hit by a passing tram. Looking on aghast was Father Lorenzo Massa, who promptly offered the use of the land surrounding his chapel, on the condition the street starlets attended mass. And it was not long before the group, children of the neighbourhood's predominantly immigrant and Creole families, were such a formidable force that forming a football club was the logical next step.
Having called a general meeting to finalise this decision, the first name proposed was El Club Forzoso de Almagro (The Unstoppable Almagro Club), though Father Massa vetoed the idea. And though the second suggestion of San Lorenzo de Almagro also met with the modest clergyman's disapproval, he agreed providing it was a tribute not to him but to the saint of the same name as well the Battle of San Lorenzo - a landmark event in Argentinian history. Thus, on 1 April 1908, Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro was born.
The making of a legend
The club's first strip, a set of blue-and-crimson striped jerseys, was provided by Massa himself and these same colours are still used today. Another constant in San Almagro history has been a wide variety of nicknames, the club quickly picking up the tags of los Forzosos (the Unstoppables), los Santos (the Saints), the Azulgranas (Blue and Crimson) and even los Cuervos [the Crows], after the black cassock Father Massa wore when attending matches.
The nicknames did not stop there, and have often served to encapsulate key periods in the club's history. In 1932 for example, San Lorenzo signed several players from Argentina's inland regions, who would help the club to their first professional title one year later. In recognition of this feat, the team were nicknamed the Gauchos de Boedo (Cowboys of Boedo) in reference to the stars' country origins and the Buenos Aires district of Boedo, where the club's ground was located.
This legendary team also became known as El Ciclón de Boedo (The Boedo Cyclone). The sporting press at the time chose the name to sum up the team's emphatic style and further set them apart from fierce rivals Club Atletico Huracan - known as El Globo (The Balloon).
Another side living long in the memory of San Lorenzo fans were the class of 1946 who, after winning the league title, went on an extensive tour of Europe. A 4-1 victory over Atletico Aviacion (now Atletico Madrid) was followed by an identical reverse at the hands of Real Madrid before the Azulgranas went on an impressive eight-match unbeaten run. This included heavy defeats of the Spanish national team (7-5 and 6-1) and their Portuguese counterparts (10-4).
Still to come was the club's golden era between 1968 and 1974, four titles in six years earning the team the name Los Matadores (The Bullfighters). And though poor financial management helped make San Lorenzo the first big club to suffer the ignominy of relegation in 1981, El Ciclón stormed back to the top flight at the first attempt.
As well as boasting noted goalscorers such as Jose Sanfilippo (fifth in the country's all-time scorers' list) and Hector Scotta (who fired a record 60 goals in the 1975 campaign), San Lorenzo are also the first Argentinian team to win the title unbeaten (in the 1968 Metropolitano championship). Besides which, the club's 47-point tally in the 2001 Clausura is the best achieved since the shorter league format was introduced while their run of 13 consecutive wins spanning the 2001 Clausura and 2002 Apertura is another record. As if that were not enough, it is claimed the club have sold the third most tickets in the history of Argentinian professional football, behind Buenos Aires behemoths Boca Juniors and River Plate.
The present day
Despite this illustrious past, San Lorenzo remain Argentina's only big club not to have won the Copa Libertadores de America. Though they were the country's first participants in the competition at the inaugural edition in 1960, los Santos have yet to reach the final - three semi-final appearances their best performances to date. Anxious to end this drought in their centenary year, the club's owners moved to renew the contract of coach Ramon Diaz, who masterminded the Clausura 2007 success, while investing heavily in players such as Andres D'Alessandro and Diego Placente, both Argentina internationals.
Without a settled arena during their early years, San Lorenzo subsequently hired an area of land in the Boedo district. It was there in May 1916 that their first real home, the Estadio Gasometro, was formally opened. And having acquired the funds to purchase the land outright by 1928, its later sale in 1982 during the club's worst ever financial crisis remains a painful memory for all involved. The nomadic period that followed was finally brought to an end in December 1993, with the official unveiling of their current ground, known as the Nuevo Gasometro.
Title wins and notable feats
Amateur era: 1923, 1924 and 1927.
Professional era: 1933, 1946, 1959, the 1968 Metropolitano, the 1972 Metropolitano and Nacional championships, Clausura championship 1995, 2001 and 2007.
International trophies: 2001 Copa Mercosur and the 2002 Copa Sudamericana.
Top scorer: Jose Sanfilippo (204 goals).
Most appearances: Sergio Villar (446 games).
Club legends, past and present
Vicente de la Mata, Armando Farro, Rene Pontoni, Reinaldo Martino, Oscar Silva, Jose Sanfilippo, Hector Scotta, Hector Veira, Horacio Doval, Alberto Rendo, Sergio Villar, Roberto Telch, Jose Albrecht, Carlos Buttice, Rodolfo Fischer, Victorio Cocco, Juan Carlos Lorenzo, Ruben Darío Insua, Jorge Reinaldi, Ruben Cousillas, Norberto Ortega Sanchez, Oscar Perazzo, Claudio Biaggio, Oscar Ruggeri, Nestor Gorosito, Alberto Federico Acosta, Leandro Romagnoli, Bernardo Romeo, Sebastian Saja, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Agustin Orion.