Athletico 100 years: Petraglia, the lord of reason

Athletico 100 years: Petraglia, the lord of reason


Mario Celso Petraglia turns 80 this February 11th. Every Atletico fan knows that the club’s history and, consequently, his own life, would not be what it is if in the last 30 years Petraglia had not been the driver of the most successful transformation process of any institution in history. No one who left where Athletico left got to where Athletico got to as it was under his leadership.

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One can dispute his stance on many things, his statements diminishing the club’s history, traits of his complex personality that made him break with fundamental allies, political choices and stances and the cambaus. I’ve caught myself doing it myself, and sometimes in dens and low-level places.

But you have to be a bastard of a father and mother not to recognize that even if Petraglia didn’t score bicycle goals like Sicupiraor been the star of Furacão like Jacksonmuch less saved penalties like Cashew or scored eight decisive goals like Alex Mineiro, he is the most important character in the club’s 100-year history.

It is still necessary to write the entire story of this man, the eighth of ten children that the Uruguayan couple José Benito and Maria gave birth to. Young Mario was born in Rio Grande, grew up in Curitiba, always attending Baixada until graduating from the Faculty of Law of Curitiba (FDC), in 1971.

During that decade, he became one of the leaders of large business groups such as Enco and Inepar. His professional success led him to be one of the names of Retaguarda Atleticana, a group that, drawing their checkbooks from the leather henchmen, saved the club from insolvency in the 1970s.

In 1984, he took on an official role at Athletico for the first time, curiously on the same day that my father also took on his. But at that time, Petraglia was very busy with his participation in the political group headed by Jaime Lerner that would be very powerful in Paraná in the coming years.

Power, in political science, is the ability to impose one’s will on others. In this point of view, Petraglia was the most powerful football manager who ever existed, after dedicating all his hours to the club.

Because the entire final design of the transformation that CAP has undergone since 1995 was always in his head. Petraglia was the one who knew where we wanted to get to and did so by extracting talent from each of his collaborators to achieve his goal.

MCP may have many flaws, but it has never been contaminated by the provincial curse that makes even the talents here in the “village” look at the ground. As a result, he has had many very traumatic fights and has always made bold moves in the particular chess game he plays with time, in which he is almost always several moves ahead.

+ On Petraglia’s 80th birthday, remember 15 of the leader’s memorable phrases

Complex leaders like him should only have their legacies judged by history, as their biographies are the sum of their actions, the circumstances of their time and the work they left behind. Getúlio Vargas, for example, was the ambitious revolutionary, the dictator who persecuted opponents or the charismatic leader who promoted profound changes in the country’s infrastructure and social rights with effects still felt today?

It was the sum of all of this, but the strongest image is the final one, as it is measured by what changed the lives of the people. In 2024, when former teammates with whom they had broken up “forever” are finally back at the table to think about the future of the club, I see “plow attendant” projecting how history will see him, as he knows better than anyone that the sun will have to continue shining in CT do Caju, even when he is no longer there.

The CT and the piazada that continues to sprout in it, in fact, are just one of the many tangible symbols that its leadership will bequeath to red-black history. In the Petraglia era, Athletico built its arena three times, took the World Cup “bullet train” and managed to settle the bill, passed the tractor on local rivals and former big clubs in the country, it was a case of unparalleled marketing and put his name in the time capsule, anticipated the SAF model by 30 years and then changed his name, taking over the four winds.

We won the Brazilian Series A and B championships, went to nine Copa Libertadores and played in two finals. We lifted two cups from the Copa Sudamericana and also won the Copa do Brasil. Not to mention the world title that will come, but hasn’t come yet. In this time of our existence, Petraglia was the beginning, the end and the middle. Love him or hate him, he is the lord of athletic reason.

See too:

Petraglia, the lord of reason

Petraglia, the lord of reason

From 1995 onwards: 80 historical photos by Mario Celso Petraglia

From 1995 onwards: 80 historical photos by Mario Celso Petraglia

On Petraglia's 80th birthday, remember 15 of the leader's memorable phrases

On Petraglia’s 80th birthday, remember 15 of the leader’s memorable phrases

The Petraglia way of negotiating: how Athletico became the biggest seller in Brazilian football

The Petraglia way of negotiating: how Athletico became the biggest seller in Brazilian football



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