Outside the factory where he worked, there is a statue to Thomas Donohoe, a master dyer from Busby, just south of Glasgow. It was erected as a result of Bangu fans realising there was a Charles Miller Square celebrating the ‘pioneer’ of Brazilian football.
Donohoe arrived in Bangu (in the west of Rio de Janeiro) 21st May 1894. He was sent out there by Platt Brothers of Oldham, who provided the equipment for the Fabrica Bangu. He was there to work in the newly opened Factory, on their new machines. The site is now a shopping mall, with the statue of Donohoe standing on a globe, holding a football in his left hand with the index finger of his right pointing up to heaven.
At this point some of you might be mentioning Charles Miller; the Anglo-Scot from Southampton, who appears in every general history. Know this: Miller was playing the dying style of football. The English style of dribbling like a lunatic. This was known as Bombazo by Brazilians. Donohoe turned up as a fully formed Scotch Professor and immediately started demonstrating the scientific game to his new Brazilian pals.
The Brazilian histories note that there were English workers in Bangu, but that they didn’t play football in ‘tropical lands’ i.e. it was too hot and humid. This would be sensible, if you played the English dribbling and running game. Play ‘Bombazo’ and get heatstroke. It doesn’t do it for me, either
His wife Elizabeth brought out a football at Thomas’ request, when she arrived in September 1894. The legend says that this was the first football in Rio. Hard to prove or disprove, but irrelevant. Donohoe had already arrived with that most precious gift in his brain: the Scottish Combination game.
Charles Miller apparently played his first game in September 1895. Donohoe played in September 1894. This is besides the point. Donohoe spread the Scottish game to the people - Miller the English game to the social elite. Donohoe is the father of Rio football and a major influence on the Brazilian game.