After spending almost 40 years in Mexico after his initial arrival to Atlas, El Tuca Ferretti is more Mexican than Brazilian. His Spanish is singular; he maintains the accent of someone who grew up kicking soccer balls on the beaches of Copacabana, but the vocabulary of someone raised in Tepito.

We have heard Tuca say to journalists: “No soy ojete” (I’m not an asshole); “Escriban lo que se les hinche el huevo” (write whatever you want); “Mendigos partidos moleros” (fucking pointless games); “El naco patán Huicho Dominguez que confundo con el señor Jorge Vergara” (I confuse ghetto-ass Huicho Dominguez with Mr. Jorge Vergara); “¿Podemos hacer esta conferencia de prensa de forma civilizada para que no me estén fajando?” (Can we do this press conference in a civilized manner so you’re not groping me?). These are only a few expressions from El Tuca’s colorful repertoire.

Photo by Femexfut

Photo by Femexfut

Ferretti is an authentic, genuine, and honest person; there are few – practically none – like him in Mexican soccer.

Ferretti is an authentic, genuine, and honest person; there are few – practically none – like him in Mexican soccer.

His reliability – as much as his fidelity – speak for him. He is the coach with the most seasons managed in Mexican professional fútbol (24 consecutive seasons on five different teams). He has never been fired, or taken over a team halfway through the season. Statistics portray him as a stable and trustworthy man, who takes few risks in his play. He is a captain that takes the vessel safely into the port, just like he did in 2006 when he saved Pumas from relegation. El Tuca took over the chaotic Universitarios left behind by Hugo Sánchez, who went from the famous Bicampeonato to struggle with relegation in only one year.

But El Tuca’s accomplishments go far beyond saving Pumas from the feared descenso. In 2007, he lost a final managing Pumas against Atlante, and in 2009 he won the Mexican League with the same team. Just like he did in 1991 playing for the Universitarios, where in a final against America, El Tuca scored one of the most epic goals in Mexican soccer history, an amazing drill shot from outside the goal area.

tucazo

Tuca repeated that achievement at a another public university when he coached the Tigres of Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León to their first title in 29 years with an Apertura win over Santos Laguna in 2011, and added a Copa championship two years later.

tucacampeon

Photo by Club Universidad

The mustache has always been El Tuca’s trademark. He grew it during his youth looking to imitate his idol, Brazilian player Rivelino. El Tuca was able to imitate his mustache, but not his great dribble and magic plays. Ferretti was always a more direct and organized player, who would run straight for the goal. It could be said that El Tuca’s style of play was more similar to Brazil’s motto of Ordem y Progresso than La Canarinha’s Jogo Bonito.

El Tuca’s style of play was more similar to Brazil’s motto of Ordem y Progresso than La Canarinha’s Jogo Bonito.

It’s tradition for El Tuca to shave his mustache every time he wins a championship, almost as if to uncover and show off his smile and happiness.

At this point, it’s no secret that El Tuca has a fascination for military culture. In several interviews, he has stated that his childhood dream was order, but not necessarily authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

El Tuca is more of a military leader, like Pancho Villa, who once seized hacienda land to distribute it to peasants. He’s a stubborn Mexican who always fights for what’s his. There are countless anecdotes of how Ferretti has fought for players’ rights, which are often violated in Mexico. Claudio Suárez once told me that El Tuca always advocated for good salaries for his players, and that he once helped him negotiate a good contract.

tucatucatucatuca

Photo courtesy of Club Universidad

A player that trusts El Tuca is a player that has a father watching his back.

There is no one like him who can take the vessel safely into the port.

The list of soccer players that have stated they love him as a father are many. It includes Antonio Sancho, Claudio Suárez, Ramón Ramírez, Guillermo Vázquez, Francisco Palencia, Marco Antonio Ruiz, and the list keeps going almost for as long as Ferretti’s vocabulary of Mexican slang.

El Tuca is taking over the Mexican team (for free) as a thank you to the country that has given him so much. He’s not a man with a set style, but one that looks for equilibrium and who loves the nation. There is no one like him who can take the vessel safely into the port against a crucial game against United States in October. El Tuca Ferretti deserves his shot as a Mexican coach, because he’s the only person to whom Pancho Villa loaned his mustache.