The history of Peruvian football has many curiosities that remind us of a time when things where different. The Peru-Chile rivalry is one that both countries look forward to every time it happens as a symbol of cultural, political, and economic battles we have fought off the pitch. Yet there was a time when the two countries united efforts and travelled through different countries to showcase their football talent together.
In July of 1933, Chilean club Colo-Colo showed up in Lima to play a series of friendly matches against local teams as part of the Independence Day celebrations. On the 28th it played against a Circolo Sportivo Italiano/Sporting Tabaco team, then on the 30th it faced Alianza Lima while reinforced by Universitario players.
After seeing the great talent found in the Peruvian capital, Colo-Colo president Walter Sanhuena decided to form a bi-national team with the help of Peruvians Jack and Reynaldo Gubbins. This team was comprised mostly of Universitario players with some from Alianza Lima, Atletico Chalaco, and Colo-Colo for a total of 21. In total, 17 were Peruvian and four were Chilean. The team would be known as El Combinado del Pacífico or The All-Pacific. Their jerseys were white with the flags of the two countries on the chest side by side as a crest.
Sanhuena left Lima with some of the players on Aug. 25th and was later joined by the rest of the Alianza and Universitario players who stayed behind for the Peruvian league final which was played on the 27th. The All-Pacific was unsuccessful in its first attempt at finding worthy opponents in Manta, Ecuador. It would then trash both Curacao 7-0 on Sept. 11th and Panama 5-1 on the 14th before sailing for the United Kingdom.
A great Peruvian legend was almost lost along the way as Luis Emilio de Souza Ferreira, Peru’s first World Cup scorer, suffered of appendicitis for the last 11 days of the transatlantic trip. Luckily, British doctors were able to save Souza’s life during emergency surgery, even though he was unable to play any game during the rest of the European leg of the tour. In fact, this forced him into an early retired during which he served as a club leader at Universitario and as the chief architect of the Estadio “Lolo” Fernandez.
The Chilean players who made up The All-Pacific were winger Juan Montero and strikers Roberto Luco, Eduardo Schnëeberger and Guillermo “Chato” Subiabre. The latter was a 1930 World Cup veteran who scored the winning goal against France and his country’s only goal against Argentina.
On the Peruvian side, there was Juan Criado, Arturo Fernandez, Ricardo del Rio, Eduardo Astengo, Vicente Arce, Alberto Denegri, Placido Galindo, Enrique Landa, “Lolo” Fernandez, Carlos Tovar, Pablo Pacheco, Luis Emilio de Souza Ferreira, and Alfredo Alegre, all from Universitario. Alianza Lima was represented by Alejandro Villanueva and Juan “El Mago” Valdivieso. Antonio Maquillón and Alfonso Saldarriaga of Atletico Chalaco made up the rest of the Peruvian contingent.
The team was well-received in England and the rest of Europe as a never-seen-before-type spectacle. Early success included a 1-1 tie against Bohemians from Dublin in front of 35,000 fans. Sanhuena and the Gubbins Brothers saw how profitable this enterprise could be, so they continued to schedule games for the overworked players.
The All-Pacific went from Ireland to Scotland, then England, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. They faced the likes of Celtic, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Bayern Munich, Montpellier, Nice, Barcelona, Tenerife and Las Palmas before returning home.
The British press highlighted the game against West Ham as the most interesting. Chilean Roberto Luco – who signed for Boca Juniors after the European tour – scored the equalizer in a 2-2 tie, after which he fainted.
Before that, after the very first game in Ireland, the English media pointed out that “the great defect that we have noticed on the forwards is that they do not shoot at goal from a long distance … The visitors would have won the match against the Bohemians if they had not failed so many final rebounds.”
The All-Pacific were welcomed by many high-profile politicians along their journey. The lord mayor of Liverpool received the team shortly after The All-Pacific’s arrival on British waters. The Irish president greeted the squad when they first arrived in Ireland as well. As another diplomatic curiosity, the newly elected German chancellor, Adolf Hitler, also received the team.
Hitler was impressed the most by Chilean striker Eduardo Schnëeberger, who was of German (and obviously Arian) descent and, thus, spoke perfect German. Hitler is said to have tried to convince the Chilean of staying in Berlin and playing for Hertha Berlin and even going as far as giving Schnëeberger a medal.
It’s alleged that Schnëeberger thanked, but rejected, the Führer’s offer and even lost the medal. One can only imagine what the reaction of the Nazi leader was at seeing a bunch of Mestizo, Afro, and Caucasian players would have been like. Did he ever get around to shaking Villanueva’s hand? Or did he refuse just as he would Jesse Owens a few years later? Of course, the countless Peru-Germany legends would continue to grow in years to come with the infamous 1936 Olympic Games.
The lowest point of the tour was the beginning of the Spanish leg. By December of 1933, our heroes must have found themselves tired and homesick with Christmas on the horizon. The businessmen thus hired two Frenchmen and an Austrian as reinforcements to face both Barcelona and Real Madrid on Dec. 8. It is said that Reynaldo Gubbins also announced his candidacy to the Peruvian presidency on the same day.
Both of the All-Pacific teams were shamefully defeated that day. They lost 4-1 to Barcelona and 10-1 to Madrid. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back as the Peruvian FA stepped in an called for the return of the Peruvian players as soon as possible.
The tour promoters toned things down after that. The players where given time to rest and the remaining games were played against lesser teams. By the time the players finally made it back to Callao, in February of 1934, they had played 39 matches. Curiously, they had won 13 matches, lost 13, and tied 13.
The Peruvians had nothing but praise towards their Chilean counterparts and vice versa. This, of course, was before the Combinado del Pacífico became the Clásico del Pacífico, a rivalry that was inaugurated during the 1935 South American Championship. The rest is history.