Pedro Rocha: Stylish, languid midfielder and striker whose skill and goals took him to four World Cups with Uruguay

 

The exquisitely skilful Uruguayan attacker Pedro Rocha was billed as the man most likely to deal an early blow to England's dreams of footballing glory in the opening match of the 1966 World Cup finals at Wembley.

In the event the contest was a drab, goalless stalemate which Alf Ramsey's men placed thankfully behind them on the way to confounding their countless doubters and lifting the Jules Rimet trophy on home soil that summer. But there were enough stylish touches from Rocha – who was prominent in Uruguay's progress to the quarter-finals, where they lost to West Germany – to underline his burgeoning reputation as a world-class talent.

Whether performing as a midfield link man or as an out-and-out striker, the Uruguayan moved with a casual and sinuous grace, at his best seeming to drift past opponents at will, displaying control, imagination and precision at the creative core of the team. There was dynamite as well as silk in the Rocha repertoire, and he was capable of erupting suddenly and explosively, delivering powerful shots with either foot. His critics accused him of slowing the play unduly, but if his style could seem languid, still it was a delight to the eye.

Having entered the senior game with Penarol as a 17-year-old in 1959, Rocha soon hit the heights, excelling as the Montevideo side won the Uruguayan championship that season, then seven more times before his 1970 switch to Sao Paulo of Brazil. His Penarol haul also included three triumphs in Copa Libertadores, South Amercia's leading club competition, and victory over Real Madrid in the world club championship of 1966.

He was a success with his new club, too, wielding immense influence as they lifted the state titles of 1971 and '75 and took the national crown for the first time in '77, after which his career wound down with brief stints at three more Brazilian clubs – Coritiba, Palmeiras and Bangu – and Deportivo Neza of Mexico.

Rocha, who retired in 1980, collected the first of his 52 full caps in 1961, scored 17 goals for his country and figured in the World Cup final tournaments of 1962, '66, '70 and '74, the first Uruguayan to complete such a quartet. Later he coached in Japan.

IVAN PONTING

Pedro Virgilio Rocha Franchetti, footballer and coach: born Salto, Uruguay 3 December 1942; played for Penarol 1959-70, Sao Paulo 1970-77, Coritiba 1978, Palmeiras 1979, Bangu 1979, Deportivo Neza 1979-80; capped 52 times by Uruguay 1961-74; coached Kyoto Purple Sanga 1997; died Sao Paulo, Brazil 2 December 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'