César Luis Menotti obituary


The soccer supervisor César Luis Menotti, who has died aged 85, led Argentina to their first ever World Cup trophy in 1978, a 3-1 victory on dwelling territory towards the Netherlands within the deafening noise of the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires on a pitch strewn with ticker tape. It was a joyful event, however one which for a lot of – together with Menotti himself – was soured by the truth that the nation was led by a brutal army junta, for whom the win was invaluable propaganda.

Lengthy-haired and left-leaning, Menotti was, as Esquire journal as soon as mentioned, “the embodiment of every part the junta opposed”. However there was a symbiotic relationship between the 2 events, for Menotti’s job as supervisor was reliant on the patronage of the dictator Jorge Rafaél Videla, who had come to energy in a coup two years earlier, and Videla was clever sufficient to recognise that Menotti represented Argentina’s greatest likelihood of glory.

Though the size of state violence was not then totally understood by Menotti or his gamers, all through the World Cup he needed to negotiate an ethical maze, privately urging his gamers to win the match not a lot for nationwide delight however for the odd soccer watchers whose household and associates had been starting to bear the brunt of the torture, homicide and “disappearances” that grew to become the junta’s modus operandi.

He additionally gained satisfaction from nurturing a freer-flowing, extra attacking fashion of play – that includes aptitude footballers of the calibre of Osvaldo Ardiles, Alberto Tarantini, Daniel Passarella and Mario Kempes – that was the antithesis of what he referred to as “rightwing soccer”: the cynical, foul-ridden strategies that had held sway in Argentina earlier than his arrival. Whereas some later accused him of being a collaborationist, the extra common view was that he did what he might in tough circumstances.

Solely 39 years of age when Argentina gained the World Cup, Menotti was a gaunt, chain-smoking, café society thinker who took an mental method to soccer. Though sometimes given to creating obscure statements concerning the recreation – as soon as declaring that “a soccer staff is above all an thought” – he did a lot to alter teaching attitudes around the globe, and his affect was vast, encouraging the emergence of a model of supervisor dedicated to exploring tactical potentialities in all their element. Certainly one of his biggest admirers was the Manchester Metropolis supervisor Pep Guardiola.

César Luis Menotti, right, with Diego Maradona, centre, during an international football tournament in Bordeaux, France, in 1983. Both player and coach were hired by Barcelona shortly after the 1982 World Cup.
César Luis Menotti, proper, with Diego Maradona, centre, throughout a world soccer match in Bordeaux, France, in 1983. Each participant and coach had been employed by Barcelona shortly after the 1982 World Cup. {Photograph}: Rene Jean/AFP/Getty Pictures

Menotti was born in Rosario within the central province of Santa Fe, and commenced his footballing profession for the native facet Unión América, the place as a young person he managed to get himself sentenced to 30 days in jail for writing graffiti on the partitions of the membership stadium in protest at what he perceived as its slide into commercialism. Already tall, he was additionally an excellent basketball participant, however when Menotti was 16 his father, Antonio, died of most cancers, and his dedication to soccer thereafter took on larger significance, as the cash would assist him assist his mom.

A chic participant with a robust shot, Menotti signed for Rosario Central, the place he grew to become often called “El Flaco” (the skinny one) and made his debut within the Primera División in 1960 as a striker, spending 4 years there till signing for the Buenos Aires membership Racing in 1964. The next yr he went to Boca Juniors, with whom he was a part of the 1965 Argentinian championship-winning facet.

By 1967 he had moved on once more, this time to the US, the place he performed a season for New York Generals within the fledgling North American Soccer League earlier than signing for the Brazilian membership Santos, the place he performed alongside Pelé as they gained the Brazilian title in 1968. In what proved to be a peripatetic membership profession, his remaining transfer got here in 1969, when he signed for Clube Atlético Juventus in Brazil earlier than retiring as a participant in 1970, having additionally gained 11 caps for Argentina between 1963 and 1968.

Transferring straight into teaching again in Rosario, Menotti had a yr as assistant supervisor at Newell’s Outdated Boys earlier than being appointed supervisor on the Huracán membership in Buenos Aires in 1971, growing his trademark attacking philosophy there and making such an impression by successful the 1973 Metropolitano championship that he was appointed as Argentina supervisor the next yr.

In distinction to the chaos that had typically preceded him, Menotti’s nine-year period as Argentina supervisor was a secure one, based mostly round his insistence on a correctly organised fixture record and a government-supported ban on Argentinian gamers below the age of 25 enjoying overseas. This allowed him to work extra successfully with the younger expertise at his disposal, together with by a newly created nationwide youth staff.

By the point the army seized energy in 1976, he had already set in practice an in depth programme to ship the 1978 World Cup that chimed neatly with the junta’s want to shine its world status. Exhibiting his mettle, Menotti resisted the final clamour to incorporate the 17-year-old Diego Maradona within the squad, judging that he would possibly crack below the strain of expectation.

Within the 1978 match Argentina started nicely, with victories over Hungary and France that took them by the primary group stage, then beat Poland and drew with Brazil earlier than a 6–0 win towards Peru – since considered with suspicion on condition that Argentina wanted to win by 4 targets or extra to progress – took them to the ultimate from the second group stage.

Within the remaining Kempes gave Argentina the lead within the thirty eighth minute, and after the Netherlands took the sport to additional time with an 82nd minute equaliser from Dick Nanninga, Kempes scored once more to make it 2-1 after which Daniel Bertoni sealed the victory.

There was additional success for Menotti as Argentina gained the World Youth Championship in 1979 in Tokyo. However on the 1982 World Cup, held in Spain, simply as Argentina and the UK had turn into concerned within the Falklands battle, his facet disillusioned. Now with Maradona within the full squad, this time there have been inner divisions between the youthful and older gamers, and so they had been eradicated on the second group stage after losses to Italy and Brazil.

Menotti resigned afterwards, however was swiftly employed by Barcelona, who had additionally signed Maradona. Though Menotti led his new staff to the Copa del Rey, the league cup and the Spanish Tremendous Cup in 1983, there was no home league or European glory, and he determined to depart in 1984.

His later managerial profession ranged throughout many golf equipment, together with at Boca Juniors (1987), Atlético Madrid (1987-88), River Plate (1989), Peñarol de Montevideo (1990), the Mexico nationwide staff (1991-92), Independiente (1996-99, interrupted by a quick interval at Sampdoria), after which, with rising gaps in between appointments, at Rosario, Independiente once more, Pueblo and Tecos.

In 2019 he grew to become director of the Argentina nationwide footballing set-up, and held the place till 2023.


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