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Copa Libertadores

Why are River Plate known as 'Los Millonarios?'

Ahead of the eagerly awaited Copa Libertadores Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate, AS takes a look at the origin of River's nickname.

Why are River Plate known as 'Los Millonarios?'

River Plate are known as Los Millonarios and to get to the root of the Buenos Aires side’s nickname it is necessary to look back almost a century to the beginning of the 1930s.

In 1931, football in Argentina became a professional sport and River took the opportunity to splash the cash on Carlos “Barullo” Peucelle, a right winger who is considered one of the finest ever to represent Argentina and one of the architects of River’s successes in the 1930s. The fee paid to Sportivo Buenos Aires was 10,000 pesos, an eye-watering sum at the time.

Then, just a year later, River stumped up over three times as much when they signed Bernabé Ferreyra from Tigre for a fee of 35,000 pesos, which was equivalent at the time to £23,000, another massive outlay and a world record fee (although Bernabé would go on to score 185 goals in 200 games for the club).

The Millonarios' "Galáctico" era

River followed these astronomical signings with the additions of Ángel Bossio for 30,000 pesos from Club Atlético Talleres, Juan Arrillaga, from Quilmes, for 22,000 pesos, Alberto Cuello, also of Tigre, for 17,500 pesos, and Platense’s Carlos Santamaría for 15,000 pesos, fees that no other club in Argentina could imagine shelling out at the time.

Los Millonarios went on break their own transfer record in 1935, paying Gimnasia La Plata 37,500 pesos for midfielder José María Minella, who would go on to manage River through one of the most prolific spells in club history, winning five league titles in six years and completing the club’s first-ever treble in 1955, which represented value for those "millions." 


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