Santa Cruz Futebol Clube is a Brazilian football team based out of Recife in the state of Pernambuco in Brazil. The team was founded by eleven youngsters who decided to formalize their street football arrangement into a team and named it after their church. In their very first game, Santa Cruz defeated Rio Negro by 7 goals to nil. Rio Negro demanded a re-match but placed a condition that Silvio Machado, who scored 5 in the first game, wouldn’t play. Santa Cruz went into the game with a changed line-up, without Machado, but his replacement Carlindo, scored 6 goals in a 9-0 win.
Racism in Brazil was prevalent with the sport being considered a playground for the elite. Santa Cruz became one of the first teams to select people solely based on their talents. This made the team extremely popular as there were a number of dark-skinned people in the population, who were rejected by other sides. In 1915, the Aflitos stadium in Santa Cruz witnessed one of the most incredible comebacks in the world of football. Losing 5-1 with 75 minutes gone, Santa Cruz won the match after scoring six goals in the last 15 minutes, an incredible feat that put them on the map. However, the win that changed everything was the 3-2 win over Botafogo in 1919.
In 1934, the team played a friendly game against the Brazilian national team wherein it lost 3-1 to the team. However, a delay in the national teams’ return meant that Santa Cruz got another shot at them and this time, beat them 3-2.
The team was part of many historic wins in national level competitions including a 3-1 win over Flamengo at the Maracana. The team also played against Santos, Pele’s 1000th game as a professional. Santa Cruz have been part of the Serie A on a number of occasions and each time, they proved that they were capable of being at the top level. Santa Cruz have 24 State championships to their name as well as a state cup (2008). The team has won three Pernambucano Superchampionships in 1957, 1976 and 1983. The Pernambucano Start Tournament was handed to Santa Cruz on 12 occasions as well.
Santa Cruz play their home games at the Estadio Jose do Rego Maciel, a 110,000 seater stadium. The stadium initially had a capacity of 64,000 people but after renovations in 1982, the capacity was increased to its current level. Santa Cruz have also won the Blue Ribbon title, presented by the Brazilian Football Confederation to teams having an unbeaten stint on a foreign tour.
The likes of Givanildo, Nunes, Carlos Alberto and Ramon have been a part of the team. But their greatest player ever has been a toss-up between Birigui and Ze do Carmo, both playing extremely important roles in the club’s success periods. Rivaldo started his professional career while playing at Santa Cruz in his early days and Ricardo Rocha, a 1994 world cup winner, also played in his early years at the club.