Established in 1908, Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro began as a street gang, based in Almagro, playing street football with other gangs. When playing street football, especially due to the advent of tram cars and buses, became dangerous, Catholic priest Lorenzo Massa, invited the gangs to play in the backyard of his church. Under his guidance, the club was formed and to honor his contribution, the club was named after him, as well as the Battle of San Lorenzo and also the barrio, or neighborhood.
With blue and red vertical stripes as their official colors, San Lorenzo soon became one of the strongest teams in Buenos Aires. The establishment of professional football on cemented their place further, and San Lorenzo now forms one fifth of the Top Five, which comprises of River Plate, Independiente, Racing and Boca Juniors.
Their first professional title win was in 1933, and the team consisted of players from the provinces, also known as los gauchos. In 1946, San Lorenzo established themselves as strong contenders, after winning the league title, breaking River Plate’s winning streak. The win was followed by a tour to Portugal and Spain, and this became one of the highlights of their history.
San Lorenzo, though losing to Real Madrid, managed to defeat Barcelona and also the Portuguese and Spanish national teams. Their fame increased manifold, so much so that the Spanish press touted them as the ‘best team in the world’. Lorenzo player, Rene Pontoni was offered a spot on the Barcelona team, which he declined, though fellow player Reinaldo Martino remained in European football and attained considerable success there.
Sporting several nicknames, the team and its players have seen a constant transition. Titled carasucias or dirty faces, the team in the 1960s was famous for their careless and offensive tactics and their bad boy antics off the field. The team was nicknamed matadores in 1968, following a championship without a single loss. From 1968 till 1974, San Lorenzo bagged four league titles, their peak period.
This was followed by a period of financial constraints and the team even lost its stadium due to poor administration. In 1981, the team suffered another setback when they were relegated, but in the very next season they returned to the first division. But their troubles were far from over, as the team was burdened with debt and other financial irregularities. Fernando Miele, a controversial president, granted them both, a new stadium as well as two league titles, which included the Clausura 1995 and 2001.
In 2001, Alberto Guil became president and a month after this, San Lorenzo won their first international title, the Copa Mercosur. The next year, San Lorenzo went on to win the first edition of the Copa Sudamericana.
Currently the club president is Rafael Savino, and even today the club is financial debt of nearly half a million dollars every month. With Huracan as main rivals, the team’s new stadium, known as Nuevo Gasometro, though the official name is Estadio Pedro Bidegain, was opened in 1993.
Some of the teams most famous former players are Jorge Olgiun, Dario ‘Pampa’ Biaggio, Diego Garcia, Armando Farro and Walter Perazzo.