Little About Morena…
With grit and determination Fernando Morena became one of the greatest goalscorers in South American football history.
One of Peñarol’s greatest stars came to this world on February 2nd, 1952. Born in Punta Gorda, Uruguay Fernando Morena Belora would become one of the greatest players in the rich history of the Uruguayan giants. His temperament, goal scoring knack, and ability to generate space made him one of the great goalscorers in South American football very much in the same mold as his childhood idol José Sanfilippo. Morena is currently the all-time leading scorer in Uruguayan football history as well as the 2nd leading scorer in the history of the Copa Libertadores behind another Peñarol idol, Alberto Spencer.
From the time he was a young boy, his obsession for the game would take him to the summit of the football world, much to the dislike of his family. When he was six years old and attending the Colegio Maturana, he wore the legendary aurinegro, despite his family being rabid Nacional fans. “I was a huge Nacional fan growing up, but that changed when I started playing for River Plate. Then I started to have feelings for Peñarol afterwards,” said Morena.
At age 11, he was brought in to Baby Defensor where he would score 54 goals. He would begin making waves at the youth level and he would capture the eye of Argentine side Vélez Sarsfield, but would reject the move.
He would end up at Grupo América where he would end up being brought in by his family’s greatest club. Despite shining with El Bolso there was something that was missing and he was not able to make the click that would unleash his complete potential at the youth level.
He would head over to Racing and then to River Plate where he would start in the fifth division. At the darsenero, he was brought up slowly and would show his goalscoring prowess, thus making him a star in Uruguay. In his three seasons at River Plate, he scored 27 goals in 48 matches. During this time, Morena would end up earning his first cap with the Uruguayan national team in 1971. He would make his debut against Chile on October 27th, 1971 and would score in his debut. He would then make the big leap to super stardom.
Peñarol won the battle of wills against Nacional and signed Nando in 1973 and thus began one of the greatest goalscoring streaks in the history of the game in South American football history. During his first stint with the manya he averaged well over a goal a game. He was the leading goalscorer in Uruguayan football for the six years he was there.
In 1979, Morena signs with Madrid minnows Rayo Vallecano. Morena would shine on a team that would not be able to survive relegation. He would put up gaudy numbers for Rayo and caught the attention of Spanish powerhouse Valencia who looked for a player to step for the oft-injured Mario Kempes who at the time suffered a shoulder injury. That dream attacking duo would last very little as Kempes would head back to Argentina to play for River Plate half way through the season. Even though he would win the Spanish Super Cup with the Ches, he would be their leading scorer, and would fight for the league title until the final week of the season the club was starting to fall apart administratively and he decided to head back to Peñarol for a second stint.
Who Said Sequels Were Bad?
Morena would play with Peñarol another three seasons and they would be just as memorable for the manya as his first.
He would win two more scoring titles and league titles, but this time he would also add a Copa Libertadores title and an Intercontinental Cup to his resume. The 1982 Copa Lib was one of the most memorable finishes in tournament history. After a scoreless first leg in Montevideo against Chilean side Cobreloa, things looked like they were going for a third and deciding match in Buenos Aires (which was the designated neutral site). With second left in the match, Morena would score the eventual title-clincher for el Carbonero. It was to be the club’ s fourth Libertadores title and their first since 1966.
Later on that year, Peñarol would also defeat Nottingham Forest in the Intercontinental Cup.
He would end up making a cameo move to Boca Juniors where he would only take part in seven matches and cross the River Plate once again for a third and final stint with his beloved aurinegro.
Fernando Morena holds every single scoring record in Charrúa football even having walked away from the game 25 years ago. He scored 667 goals in his illustrious career. He is the all-time leading scorer in Uruguayan football (235) and holds the single season record for goals (36). He also has the record for goals scored in a single game (7)
Leading goalscorer Uruguayan league (1973-78, 1982)
Uruguayan League Champion (1973-75, 77-78, 81-82)
Copa Libertadores Champion (1982)
Intercontinental Champion (1982)
Liga Mayor Champion (1978)
Spanish Supercopa (1980/81)
Copa de Oro (1982)
For my Spanish speaking friends, you can listen to the interview here.
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