What does (Vamos) Newell’s Carajo mean and why is it associated with Marcelo Bielsa?

A mural in Rosario featuring Marcelo Bielsa and the phrase ‘Newell’s Carajo’

Since taking over at Leeds United, the phrase ‘Vamos Leeds Carajo’ has become popular at Elland Road.


Vamos ‘Insert Team Name/Player Name’ Carajo is a well-known phrase used by Argentine football fans to express encouragement for their club. You are likely to hear fans of Boca Juniors say ‘Vamos Boca Carajo‘ or fans of Huracán cry ‘Vamos Huracán Carajo‘. While the phrase is not claimed by a single club, it has become intrinsically linked with Marcelo Bielsa and Newell’s Old Boys. Why?

In 1990, unknown 35-year old coach Marcelo Bielsa took his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys to their third championship in Argentina playing an attractive style of football and winning plaudits from fans, players and pundits in the South American country. Newell’s Old Boys secured the title on the final day of the season after drawing 1-1 with San Lorenzo at a game played in Buenos Aires at the home of Ferro Carril Oeste.

When news filtered through that other results had gone in Newell’s favour, and Bielsa had led The Lepers to the championship, the young manager ran to the stand where the Newell’s fans were located. Hoisted up high on the shoulders of another man, Bielsa asked for someone to give him a Newell’s shirt. Grabbing onto the shirt tightly, and with a helicopter flying overhead, El Loco started to shout:

Newell’s Carajo, Newell’s, Newell’s Carajo, Carajo Newell’s, Newell’s!

Bielsa shouts ‘Newell’s Carajo’ after winning the title in 1990

This moment has gone down in history in Argentine football, especially with fans of Newell’s Old Boys. The phrase has been immortalised and now features on many murals in Rosario, where Newell’s Old Boys are based.


What does Vamos Newell’s Carajo translate as in English?

Bielsa’s cry of ‘Newell’s Carajo’ was a shortened version of the phrase ‘Vamos Newell’s Carajo’. It is difficult to translate the phrase directly into English, but in most cases ‘carajo‘ is a swear word in the Spanish language. In English, the phrase ‘Vamos Newell’s Carajo‘, or indeed ‘Vamos Leeds Carajo‘ is comparable to:

“Come on the fucking Newell’s!”
“Come on to fuck Newell’s”
“Let’s fucking go Newell’s!”

or

“Come on the fucking Leeds!”
“Come on to fuck Leeds!”
“Let’s fucking go Leeds”!

It does not refer to anything sexual and is a positive phrase of encouragement when used in the context of a football team. Some media outlets have translated carajo as ‘damn’, but this word is too mild in this context.


How is Vamos Carajo pronounced in English?

Before attempting to say this phrase, non-Spanish speakers should note that the ‘j’ in Spanish is not pronounced the same as in English. A Spanish ‘j’ normally sounds like an English ‘h’. When an Argentine says ‘Carajo’, as is the case in Marcelo Bielsa’s cry of ‘Newell’s Carajo’, the ‘j’ sounds closer to an English ‘k’.

Therefore, the phrase ‘Vamos Leeds Carajo’ would be pronounced:

VA-MOSE LEEDS KA-RA-KO

If you can roll your ‘r’s, then try that too.

Listen again to how Marcelo Bielsa says it in the video posted above.


What other teams outside of South America have adopted the phrase?

Quite a few actually. Marcelo Bielsa’s famous phrase has been carried around the world and fans from both Athletic Club and Leeds United have used the phrase to support their club while El Loco has been in charge.


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3 thoughts on “What does (Vamos) Newell’s Carajo mean and why is it associated with Marcelo Bielsa?

  1. The accurate translation would be “Let’s fucking go, Newell’s!”. The word “fucking”, when preceding the verb, gives it (and the whole phrase) way more emphasis, and thus similar meaning and sense to “carajo”.

    1. Agreed and updated. I’ve led with “come on” as I feel it’s a much more common phrase of encouragement than “Let’s go” in British football fan culture. For example, “Come on you Spurs!” or “Come on United!” whereas I would associate “Let’s go” with American sport culture, particularly the NFL.

      1. You’re totally right. “Come on” is way more used in England, and that opens the door to another possible translation: “Come on Newell’s”, then adding something like “fuck yes!” or similar (although that specific phrase seems, again, more associated with US sports).
        In the end, it’s a matter of keeping the emphasis it has in its original language

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