Scotsman who introduced football to Brazil to be honoured with statue

A sculpture is to be unveiled in Busby in honour of the man who first introduced football to Brazil.

Thomas Donohoe, who lived in the East Renfrewshire town, emigrated to the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in 1894 following the decline of Scotland’s cotton mill industry.

A keen footballer in his homeland, one of Donohoe’s first moves in Brazil was to organise the country’s first ever football match in August of 1894. From there on in, he began setting up regular games at the Bangu Mill where he worked.

Football now plays an essential part in Brazilian culture, with the country holding more World Cups (five) than any other country. Donohoe’s contribution to Brazil is still appreciated today, with Bangu Atlético marking the start of the 2014 World Cup by unveiling a five metre statue outside of their stadium in honour of the Scot.

The statue of Donohue which stands in Rio de Janeiro (Picture credit – Clecio Regis).

A sculpture is now set to be unveiled in Busby in August by East Renfrewshire Council, with support from the Scottish Government and the Busby Community Council. The local authority said it is hoped that the statue attracts visitors to the village, as well as adding to the cultural and sporting links between Scotland and Brazil.

Artist Kate Robinson will design and create the new sculpture to be placed in Busby. She said, “The international aspect of Thomas Donohue’s story was one of the things that inspired me – the connections between people in Scotland and Brazil. I am creating the bust of Thomas in clay and then the model is cast in carbon fibre. Modelling in clay is like telling a story in three dimensions.”

East Renfrewshire Council leader, Tony Buchanan, said, “Already honoured with a sculpture in Brazil, I think it is fitting that we pay tribute to football legend Thomas Donohoe, in his home town of Busby. I look forward to seeing the finished sculpture and would encourage people to visit Busby and discover the great range of local businesses on offer.”