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Exeter City return to Rio to mark a special anniversary

Fluminense's current star, Fred, recently retired from international football
Action Images

The connection between Exeter City and Brazilian football is little known, even to those in both South America and south-west England.

En route home from their 1914 pre-season tour of Argentina, the Grecians stopped off in Brazil. They chose to play in Rio de Janeiro, instead of São Paulo, and in doing so forced the invention of a team with a combination of players from the two largest football states in Brazil. This group of players was christened the 'Selecão' (selection), a word which remains the Brazilian national team's nickname today.

The 3,000 fans that were packed into the Estádio das Laranjeiras were expecting to see some beautiful football from the country that had invented the sport but instead were surprised with the roughness of the visitors' play.

Although the star player of the Seleção, Arthur Friedenreich, lost two teeth in the game, the South American side, which boasting flair in abundance, ran out 2-0 winners with goals coming from Oswaldo Gomes and Osman.

Now, a century later, City are returning to South America to mark the centenary of the extraordinary history they share with the country and their national football side.

The Grecians will play three matches starting with their opening pre-season friendly against Fluminense at the famous Estádio das Laranjeiras on 20 July. They will then face Tupi on 23 July and Rio Cricket and Athletic Association on 25 July.

Exeter finished just five points outside the League Two relegation places in 2014 but this year’s trip is proof of the high regard the club are still held in by all those at the top of the Brazilian game.

 
 

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