Tom’s a footballing legend

editorial image

They may have been humiliated by the Germans during the World Cup, but Brazilians know how to remember their past — and who to thank.

That’s why when researching their original association with ‘the beautiful game’ they approached East Renfrewshire council for any help they could give them on Tom Donohoe, whointroduced football to Brazil.

Although there is some contention over whether it was Tom or Charles Miller, son of a Scot born in Sao Paulo, who originally brought the game to the Brazillians, for the residents of Bangu — a small suburb in western Rio de Janeiro — the answer is firmly Mr Donohoe.

Tom, from Busby, was born in 1863 and worked as a dyer at Busby Printworks.

In 1892 he secured a job with a Brazillian calico printing company which was about to open a new factory in Bangu.

A keen footballer Tom missed the sport so much that within two years he had imported some equipment and set about setting up teams from factory workers in the town.

The resulting game, said to be Brazil’s first football match, took place in April 1894.

Now an artist has immortalised Tom Donohoe in a bronze statue unveiled in Bangu

Clecio Regis (53), who designed the statue, is in no doubt who claims the bragging rights in the debate.

Clecio said: “Thomas Donohoe was the first to bring a football to Brazil, eight months before Charles Miller.”

The Miller supporters accept this, though they say it was just ‘for a kickabout’.

Regis pours scorn on this: “There’s no way Donohoe would have settled for just a kickabout for eight months.

“People always forget about Bangu, but the first football in the country was the one brought here, by Thomas Donohoe.”

And the new statue credits East Renfrewshire council’s local studies librarian, Amanda Robb, for the help she 
gave researcher, Julia 

Amanda said: “Since then, Julia has been in touch to send us images of the opening ceremony — and in among them were a couple of nice surprises.

“A piece of artwork designed by Julia using some of the photos we gave them from our heritage collection displays the East Renfrewshire council logo.

“And there is a credit on the statue itself to me and to 
John McVicar [a local historian].”