Friday, 16 July 2010

Clube Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)

Atlético Mineiro hail from the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, the third largest municipal area in the country. Founded in 1908 they are considered one of the grand old dames of Brazilian football. Since their foundation, they have only spent one season outside of whatever the country's top flight happened to consist of in any given season.

They were the first official national champs back in 1971 - the title only starting that late because of the huge distances between the major clubs in this enormous country. On top of that they won the very first running of their state championship, the Minas Gerais State Championship, in 1915, before going on to win it a record 40 times.

Perhaps their most revered player was José Reinaldo de Lima, more popularly known as Reinaldo, or simply, The King. He remains the club's top scorer with an amazing 255 goals over a twelve-year period. In their unbeaten season in 1977 he scored an amazing 1.55 goals per game - a record still to be beaten anywhere in Brazilian football. Despite his success that year, he was forbidden from playing in the championship final that year, as his goal celebration - a raised left fisted salute - was considered to be a political statement by the military government of the time, which contributed to Atlético only finishing in the runner's-up spot - despite having the most successful season ever.

Their Mineirão stadium, built in 1965, is the second largest in the country, after the Maracana, and holds a whopping 75,783 punters, and is pegged to be remodelled for the 2014 World Cup. Their biggest rivalry is with fellow Belo Horizonte club Cruzeiro - also known as The Dark Beast. After almost 500 games played between the two battling sides, Atlético currently has the upper hand, but they are always fiercely contended battles.

Atlético are also known as Galo - or The Roosters - after their team mascot, a giant, muscley chicken beast. Designed in the 1940s by cartoonist Fernando Pierucetti, he chose the bhord because he thought that it summed up their fighting passion, and the fact that, like fighting birds, they never gave up until the final whistle. 

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