Buenos Aires: River Plate, one of the world's greatest soccer clubs, are hoping that the sight of the glories of the past in their new museum will influence the present and spark a recovery from a major slump on the field.
It is a paradox that the museum, feting the team's achievements from their foundation in the Buenos Aires docklands in 1901, should open at a time when a poor squad of players face almost certain exclusion from the South American Libertadores Cup in 2010 for the first time in 15 years.
Twice South American champions and winners of the world club crown in 1986, River Plate hold the record for national titles with 33 since the introduction of professional football in 1931.
The museum's centrepiece is a time tunnel highlighting championship seasons and the players involved. A dark stretch evokes the 18 years without a title between 1957 and 1975, a period rich in talent and playing style but riddled with runners-up spots. The tunnel emerges into a trophy room full of glittering silver cups.
There is a full-scale model of a steam locomotive crashing through a brick wall on which are painted the five members of River's famous forward line of the 1940s, a golden age of the game in Argentina, nicknamed La Maquina.
There is film of past idols, notably former European Footballers of the Year Alfredo di Stefano and Enrique Omar Sivori who made their names in Europe with Real Madrid and Juventus.
Goalkeeper Amadeo Carrizo, 83 and the club's biggest idol still alive today who helped River to win five titles in six years from 1952, said: "I played for three decades at this beautiful club and to be immortalised in the museum is enough for me."
The Monumental stadium also has its display room with a scale model of the centrepiece of Argentina's 1978 World Cup triumph and pictures of the club's previous grounds as they moved in several steps from their origins in La Boca port district.
First Published: Thursday, November 19, 2009, 14:30