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Never forget your roots – Palmeiras’ illustrious history

Football Videos | Article posted on February 25th, 2015

February 25th, 2015by Tomos Knox

One of the most successful clubs in Brazil, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras have won eight league titles, as well as two Copa do Brasil trophies.The champions of South America in 1999, having beaten Colombian side Deportivo Cali to claim the Copa Libertadores, with their success culminating in the awarding of “Best Team of the 20th Century of Brazil” by the Sao Paulo State Football Federation, they are a club of immense power and wealth.
Palmeiras’ team is predominantly Brazilian, with ex Bayern Munich and Inter Milan defender Lúcio among their ranks. Apart from a smattering of Chilean, Argentinian and Uruguayan players, their squad is entirely made up of footballers from the “Futebol Nation”.

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Given that Palmeiras are situated in Brazil, the land of ‘futebol’, one would not feel obliged to be surprised in any way. However, delving deep into the rich history of a club deemed to be one of the most influential in the nation, will shock you somewhat: Palmeiras was originally an Italian club.
The idea of Palestra Italia came in the early 20th century, from Luigi Cervo, Vicenzo Ragognetti, Luigi Emanuele Marzo and Ezequiel Simone, four men from the Italian community within Sao Paulo. The team was to be created as a representative side for the community, and would face the biggest sides within Sao Paulo’s footballing scene.
The men contacted a number of local newspapers, including the ‘Fanfulla’ a publication largely dedicated to Italian-Brazilians, with their idea. It was met with much enthusiasm.
Fanfulla even wrote ‘In Sao Paulo we have… the football club of the Germans, of the English, of the Portuguese, of the Catholics and Protestants, but a club that might be composed exclusively of Italian sportsmen, and our colony (is) the largest in the state, (yet) still nothing has been tried!’ After several meetings, a total of almost 50 people formed Palestra Italia, a sports club for Italian-Brazilians.
Palestra Italia played its inaugural match in Votorantim, a town in Sao Paulo state. They won 2-0, with Bianco and Algretti on the score-sheet as they defeated Savoia, winning the Savoy Cup.
In 1916, Palestra Italia joined the Sao Paulo State Championship, and played its first official match. Just a year later, Palestra Italia finished second in the league, beating rivals and fellow Sao Paulo club Corinthians on two occasions. In just two years, the club that Luigi Cervo and Co had strived to create was blossoming; it was the pride of the Italian community.
Palestra Italia continued to grow, and by early 1934, had amassed six Sao Paulo State Championship trophies. Although there were other clubs representing different nations, for example CR Vasco de Gama, founded by the Portuguese community within the city of Rio de Janeiro, Palmeiras were

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