Arthur Friedenreich was born in 1892. He was born on the corner of Vitoria (victory) and Triunfo (triumph) streets. The joke has been made that he was destined for success from birth. His father Oscar was a German businessman and his mother Mathilde an Afro-Brazilian. Because his father was a European, Arthur had contact with football at a very early age.
In the early, 1900’s the sport of football was reserved for member of the white ruling elites. However, Friedenreich was allowed to play because he had white features. As a mulatto he merely looked like he was a tanned white male. Also convincing, Friedenreich had green eyes.
Physically he was a fairly small guy. He was about five feet and seven inches tall and weighed about one hundred and twenty pounds. He was nicknamed “El Tigre” by Uruguayan and Argentinian footballers because of his aggressive and determined attitude.
Friedenreich has often described as a “green eyed mulatto dancer” because his dribbling skills were so good they looked choreographed. He was also known as “Latin America’s sweetheart” because he set many pulses racing. In many ways he paved the way for another famous dribbler, Garrincha.
It was not until Friedenreich was an old man that reporters realized what an interesting story his tale would make. Reporters that attempted to interview him and verify his amazing football career found that it was too late.
When Friedenreich passed away in 1969, he had forgotten not only his name but his achievements as a football player. It is believed that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Profiles Of The Great and Good: Arthur Friedenreich: The Original “Black” Pearl. | Bleacher Report.” The Web’s best destination for sports community, news, opinion, photos, and more | Bleacher Report. Web. 12 Dec. 2009. <http://http://bleacherreport.com/articles/70531-profiles-of-the-great-and-good-arthur-friedenreich-the-original-black-pearl>.