Club Nacional de Football is famous for a lot of things, but most football fans would first point to their collection of trophies. With 46 Primera División titles and 3 Copa Libertadores trophies (along with 562 overall points), Nacional is the second most successful club in both competitions. Nacional is also identified by their red-white-blue kits -- an hommage to José Gervasio Artigas -- and their cross-town rivalry with Peñarol. Club Nacional de Football shouldn't be confused with the Colombian club Atlético Nacional or the Portuguese club Clube Desportivo Nacional.
Estadio Gran Parque Centrali (1899–)
Primera División: 49
Copa Libertadores: 3
Héctor Scarone, Andrés Mazali, Ángel Romano, José Leandro Andrade, Pedro Petrone, Schubert Gambetta, Atilio García, Gustavo Munúa
Most games played: Emilio Álvarez (511)
Top goalscorer: Atilio García (208)
In 1899, Uruguay Athletic Club and Montevideo Football Club decided to join forces, which led to the foundation of Nacional. Next year, the new club opened its doors to Club Defensa as well, solidifying its player base. This proved to be a smart move since the club claimed its first league title in 1902. In 1903, they represented the Uruguayan national team in their very first international match, beating Argentina 3-2.
From the very beginning, Nacional paid great attention to their football philosophy. Shirking the physical style of play in favor of smart tactical positioning and quick passing, they were able to dominate the majority of the amateur era. By 1932, they had already won 11 league titles.
The arrival of professionalism didn’t do much to change the status quo, either. During the first decade, Nacional was undoubtedly the team to beat in Uruguayan football. Their dominance was best exemplified by their 5-year championship streak from 1939 to 1943; during that period, Nacional won 18 of 23 clãsicos against Peñarol. This team was led by Atilio García, who remains the club’s top goalscorer with 208 goals in 210 appearances.
As the years went by, however, the Tricolores started losing their grip on domestic competitions. The following decade was still a successful one -- they claimed an additional 7 titles between 1946 and 1957 -- but from that point onward, they had to settle for playing second fiddle to Peñarol.
Soon enough, the club’s focus shifted to international competitions -- namely, the Copa Libertadores. Their first appearance in 1962 ended with a semi-final defeat to Peñarol, but the overall impression was undoubtedly a positive one. During the seven years that followed, they reached the finals on three separate occasions (1964, 1967, 1969), but the famed trophy kept eluding them.
Nacional finally broke the “curse” by defeating Estudiantes de la Plata 2-0 in the 1971 Copa Libertadores final. They followed it up by winning two more Copa Libertadores titles in 1980 and 1988, becoming the first team in the competition’s history to claim three titles. However, this proved to be somewhat of a swansong for the club’s international ambitions, as they faced financial troubles for most of the ‘90s.
Fortunately for the club’s fans, things changed for the better by the end of the millennium. The appointment of club legend Hugo de León as coach led to a Primera División title in 1998, while preventing Peñarol from obtaining the first Sexenio (six straight titles) in Uruguayan football. They continued to perform well during the following two decades, winning 10 more league titles in that period.
By Martin Wahl
The logo has the form of a shield and included the three colors associated with the club, white, blue and red. The "C.N. de F." texted diagonally is obviously the initials for the club name, Club Nacional de Football.
Club Nacional de Football timeline
1899 The club is established.
1902 First domestic top-league victory.
1905 Winning their first Copa de Honor.
1971 Winning their first Copa Libertadores.
1971 Winning their first Intercontinental Cup.
1971 Winning their first Copa Interamericana
2019 First time winner of the Supercopa Uruguaya.
Football clubs also founded in 1899