Uruguay “exported” 1.414 football players during the last decade, (equivalent to 128 teams) to such different places as Argentina, Italy, Iraq, Russia or Romania according to a report from a local Montevideo newspaper.
Uruguay with a population of only 3.4 million and a glorious football tradition went through an international re-launching when it managed a fourth place in the 2010 World cup in South Africa.
In spite of the small population Uruguay has sent overseas almost as many players as Brazil and Argentina that have significant larger populations, 180 and 40 million.
The main destination for most Uruguayan players between 2000 and 2010 has been neighboring Argentina with 238 professionals followed by México with 113; Italy, 112 and Spain 102.
The most prolific year was 2007 with 163 overseas passes among which stars such as Luis Suarez, who became the striker of Holland’s Ajax; Edison Cavani in Naples and Martin Cacers defense of Sevilla.
In 2010 the number of transfers was 111, one of the lowest of the decade, mostly because of the Uruguayan government measures intended to retain players in the country. But that same year fourteen coaches left with contracts for such different countries as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Peru and Guatemala.
By foreign teams, Olimpia from Paraguay incorporated 21 Uruguayan players in the decade followed by Huracan from Argentina with 14, Independiente from Santa Fe, Colombia, 12 and Gimnasia y Esgrima from Argentina, with 11.
Nacional from Montevideo, one of Uruguay’s great national teams (together with Peñrol) was the club which most players sent overseas followed by Peñarol with 84, Defensor Sporting 71 and Danubio, 69.
Uruguay won the first world cup in 1930 defeating Argentina in the final; again in 1950, defeating Brazil and was fourth in 1954, 1970 and 2010. In 1924 and 1928, before the existence of the World Cup Uruguay won the equivalent Olympic gold medals.