Two World Cup finals, two countries - One Luis Monti

After finishing runner-up in 1930 World Cup with Argentina, Luis Monti won the World Cup in 1934 with Italy.

Luis Monti (2nd L) before playing for Italy in the 1934 World Cup final against Czechoslovakia.   -  AFP photo

The only player to feature for two countries in World Cup finals, Luis Monti was perhaps the most critical component of both the Argentina side that was runner-up in the 1930 edition and the victorious Italy side of 1934.

As centre-half in the 2-3-5 system that dominated football in the 30s, Monti brought to his role (which would correspond roughly to that of the midfield anchor in modern formations) not just rugged tackling and positional sense but also composed, unfussy distribution.

Monti's 1930 World Cup was mostly fruitful — the 29-year-old scored the only goal in Argentina's 1-0 group win over France with a 81st minute free kick, and the first goal in Argentina's 6-1 semifinals thumping of the USA. The final, however, saw the Albiceleste succumb to a 2-4 defeat to host Uruguay.

Later, rumours surfaced that Monti had received death threats before the final.

Monti would get his hands on the Jules Rimet Trophy four years later in Italy, playing for Italy as one of the several oriundi (immigrants of Italian ancestry) in Vittorio Pozzo's side, having qualified after playing in Serie A for Juventus.

Monti replaced the cultured Fulvio Bernardini as Italy's centre half, with Pozzo preferring the former's sweeping, direct distribution to the latter's more deliberate style, which he felt slowed down the team and wasn't suited to the counterattacking system he favoured.

Monti's more robust defensive qualities also played a part in the coach's decision, and proved crucial in the end, the centre-half's man-marking effectively shutting out Mattias Sindelaar (the cerebral deep-lying centre forward, who was arguably the best player in the world during the era of Hugo Meisl's Austrian 'Wunderteam') in Italy's 1-0 semifinals win over Austria.

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