Now that Luis Suárez has reached 500 goals in his career, the day when another great Uruguayan nine, Fernando Morena, reached half a thousand in the Rayo Vallecano jersey, comes to mind!
That Morena signed for Rayo Vallecano was a great surprise. It happened in the summer of 1979, and although Rayo was in the First Division, Morena was a major international figure that exceeded the dimensions of that friendly neighborhood club.
Born in Montevideo, he made his debut at age 17 in the First Division with River Plate de Montevideo. At 21 he jumps to the great club in the country, Peñarol, with which he is the top scorer of the championship six consecutive years, from 1973 to 1978, and of the Copa Libertadores in 1974 and 1975. In seven years at Peñarol he averaged 1, 28 goals per game.
He was 27 years old, he was tempted by many European clubs and surprisingly he chose Rayo. He was convinced by the coach, Héctor Núñez, from Uruguay, who assured him that Rayo was the best place for a safe landing in Europe. Its cost ($ 500,000) could be paid in part by the transfer of Landaburu to Barça. His arrival was sensational. He was a gentleman from head to toe, with a cultured and slow way of speaking that surprised here.
The count of his goals came to us from Uruguay: he came with 484. On December 9, he scored 499 against Athletic in Vallecas, with nine in the League, three in the Cup and three in friendlies. The next game, December 16, 1979, was the visit to Mestalla. There the formidable Kempes awaited him. On the bench, Di Stéfano. Uruguayan scorer and coach against Argentine scorer and coach.
This took on a sensational dimension in the Río de la Plata. Valencia received accreditation requests from numerous journalists from both countries, including the famous rapporteur Víctor Hugo Morales, the same one who years later would leave for history his narration of Maradona’s goal to the English.
And he did not make the trip in vain, because from the booth assigned to him, at the corner of the amphitheater with Gol Gran, he was able to narrate, with his peculiar style, elegant and noisy at the same time, Morena’s 500th goal. It happened at 5:23 p.m. (the game had started at 5:00 p.m.). It was not a clean goal, it came in a free blow that brushed the barrier. But it was goal 500, which came to escort Pelé’s 1,000, 10 years before.
In the second half, first Saura and then Orlando Giménez, Paraguayan, scored for Valencia. “A Paraguayan resolved the duel between the Argentine and Uruguayan giants,” it was said with pride in Paraguay. Immediately, Rayo traveled to Montevideo for a friendly arranged in the transfer. It finished 2-2, with goal 501 from Morena.
Morena completed a great campaign, with 21 goals. Fourth of the Pichichi, preceded only by Quini (24), Santillana (23) and Kempes himself (22). But his goals failed to save the modest Rayo and he signed precisely for Valencia, who paid 65 million pesetas for him. In Valencia he made a couple with Kempes, but he returned to River Plate mid-season. Morena left 24 goals, including the highly celebrated Nottingham that was worth the European Super Cup. He suffered an eight-game sanction after being sent off for insistently protesting Sánchez Arminio a penalty from Arteche.
But we enjoy it more here. Uruguay suffered from his absence. Among the fans of Peñarol (half of the country) a spontaneous movement arose to re-fish him with the motto We all bring Morena, the first verse of this quatrain that was repeated everywhere: Morena we all bring it / because we are all Peñarol / A fan that is played entirely / for Morena, a great scorer.
Valencia demanded a million dollars. Many people came to the claim of radios and newspapers and put what they could. Also companies of all kinds. And the money came out. Morena returned and the year of his return, 1982, Peñarol won the championship, the Libertadores and the Intercontinental. In 1983, a tibia and fibula fracture against Venezuela in the Copa América (won by Uruguay) stopped him. He played a few games for Boca Juniors and returned to Peñarol to repeat the national title in 1984. Once retired, he agreed to return in 1986, although only for the Copa Libertadores, with a symbolic 50-cent contract. He scored his last and final goal against Boca at La Bombonera, the one that made the 668th of his career, 334, just half, in official matches.