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Francisco Varallo Obituary

Francisco Varallo (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Former Argentina footballer Francisco Varallo, the last surviving player from the first World Cup in 1930, died on Monday at the age of 100. His death in La Plata, Argentina, was confirmed by Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima, which did not specify the cause of death.

Varallo played in the final between Uruguay and Argentina in Montevideo, Uruguay - a match that Argentina famously lost 4-2.

Varallo began his career with the club Gimnasia, but made his mark with Boca Juniors. He is Boca's second-leading scorer with 194 goals, behind only the club's current striker Martin Palermo. Varallo was nicknamed "Canoncito" (little canon) for his powerful shot.

He won national titles with Gimnasia in 1929 and with Boca in 1931, 1934 and 1935. He retired as a player in 1940 and worked as a coach with Boca's lower-division teams and coached Gimnasia in 1957-59.

Varallo gave an interview earlier this year to FIFA - the world governing body of football - to mark his 100th birthday. He said the loss to Uruguay was his greatest disappointment.

"I achieved a lot of nice things in my career," he said in the interview. "I represented the national team and was Boca's record goalscorer. However, in my whole life I've never felt such a bitter pain as losing that World Cup final against Uruguay in 1930."

Varallo started all three group games in the 1930 World Cup: a 1-0 victory over France, a 6-3 win against Mexico and 3-1 defeat of Chile. However, he missed the semifinal - a 6-1 victory over the United States - after picking up an injury in the Chile game.

He told FIFA he was doubtful for the final against Uruguay.

"I was a young lad of 20 years of age and I was ready to take on the world," Varallo told FIFA. "I tested the injury on the morning of the final and I felt fine so I decided to play. It was a risk because there were no substitutions back then. But it was worth it. I wasn't going to miss that game for anything in the world."

Argentina led 2-1 at halftime. After that, Varallo said the Argentines were soundly beaten.

"We ran out of steam, to tell you the truth," Varallo said. "With all due respect to my teammates, we weren't gutsy enough. How I cried that day. Even now when I look back it still makes me angry."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press