Carlos Scarone was born in barrio Peñarol, Montevideo, not long after his father arrived from Savona, Italy in 1887. The entire Scarone family, headed by Don Giuseppe, became immersed and enamoured in the local Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club, known simply as Peñarol. It was in the streets of that barrio where Carlos adopted a love for the ball, and skills that guaranteed his future.
An aggressive, technically brilliant centre forward, Scarone lasted only one season at River Plate before he was picked up by Peñarol in 1909. It was there he linked up with a young Jose Piendibene, with the two developing a formidable attacking partnership which led to a Uruguayan title in 1911.
Scarone’s quality didn’t go unnoticed. Tempted by an adventure abroad and a handsome wage, the youngster made the journey to Buenos Aires to sign for Boca Juniors. His time in Argentina was cut short, however, with a supposed illness resulting in a return to Montevideo the following year.
Don Giuseppe was delighted. His son had left too soon, falling victim to the allure of wealth and the appeal of the unknown. With his little adventure over, it was now time to return home to Peñarol.
Then one night, Carlos made an announcement.
“I’m going to play for Nacional”.
His father was speechless. How could his son do this? Not only a betrayal of his former club, a move to Nacional was an affront to his father, his family, and to the place of his birth.
Don Giuseppe demanded answers. Where was his loyalty? What did Buenos Aires do to him? For what possible reason could he go to the Other team? The debate raged, arguments descended to insults. Don Giuseppe lambasted his son, calling him a coward, a traitor.
Carlos wasn’t interested. He claimed that Peñarol didn’t show the attention he deserved upon his return from Buenos Aires. While his childhood club neglected him, their rivals saw an opening. Nacional’s directors swooped, showered him with attention and made an offer he would be crazy to refuse.
His father was adamant, “you must return to Peñarol”.
Then Scarone, as incensed as his father, replied in his family’s native tongue. “Go to Peñarol? ¿A qué? ¿A mangiare merda? To what? To eat shit?!”
Scarone’s motivations were clear. He was only interested in money, and would pursue it even if it meant breaking his father’s heart. Pleas from his family fell on deaf ears, and Scarone made the move to Nacional.
Despite existing only fifteen years, the Peñarol-Nacional rivalry had already consumed the lives of the football lovers of Montevideo. What was the main attraction of the season now had the added element of Scarone’s return, but to the Other team. Trams were filled to capacity, thousands marched to the Parque Central, and Scarone was about to face it all.
July 26, 1914.
Scarone was battling more than those on the pitch. Indeed, Don Giuseppe was there in the stands, like he had been for every Peñarol game. This time, he was there cheering against his son, abusing him in the most lamentable manner, for he was now just another Nacional player.
It was an intense, emotional encounter. Hounded by an aggressive Peñarol, and with his father in the stands, a determined yet desperate Scarone went out with everything. He kicked out at his former teammates including Piendibene, John Harley, and especially his direct opponent, Manuel Varela. Accompanying Scarone’s kicks were his constant provocations.
“Come on! You’re all a bunch of shit eaters!”… “Manyas!!”
Peñarol won 2-1. Scarone’s performance was off, to say the least.
Seemingly focused on getting one back at his old side, the football Scarone was known for gave way to theatrics. La Razón noted that instead of playing the ball, Scarone dedicated the entire match to diving and fighting his opponents. Perhaps it was nostalgia. Maybe arrogance? More likely a preoccupation with his father right there, cheering against him. Whatever it was, Scarone and Nacional endured an afternoon to forget.
While it was a terrible Clásico debut for Scarone, he soon bounced back and forged a long, successful career for club and country. In another blow to Don Giuseppe, Carlos was joined at Nacional by his younger brother. His name was Hector, and he became Uruguay’s star forward at the Olympic and World Cup triumphs, and the country’s all-time top scorer for over eighty years.
Carlos Scarone’s legacy is perhaps more enduring at Peñarol than his adopted team. He had turned his back on both his family and childhood club, and anything other than the best pay was the equivalent of eating shit. That Italian insult used by Scarone, Mangia Merda, was taken, creolized, and is now used proudly by Peñarol fans. Manya is as a statement of loyalty, as well as the expectation that the players put the institution, and the fans, ahead of their own desire for fame and fortune.