Mascherano is captain, but Messi must play the Maradona role

November 11, 2008

When Carlos Bilardo began his job as Argentina coach in January 1983, the first thing he did was to visit Maradona in Spain where he was playing for Barcelona.

Bilardo told Maradona he wanted him as Argentina’s captain, that he was the only player sure of his place and that he would build a team around him to win the World Cup.

Maradona, who had had an unhappy first World Cup in Spain six months earlier, reacted by promising himself nothing would stand in their way.

“The first thing I resolved in that moment was to create something, a conscience: to play for the national team had to be the most important thing in the world,” he said many years later in his autobiography.

“If we had to travel thousands and thousands of kilometres, do it; if we had four matches in a week, play them; if we had to stay in little hotels that were falling apart, accept it…Everything, everything for the national team, for the blue and white.

“That was the style I wanted to transmit.”

Maradona became a pioneer in trans-Atlantic commuting to play for Argentina, something dozens of South Americans, and rather reluctantly their European clubs, now take for granted to turn out for their national teams in World Cup qualifying matches.

It did not happen right away because Maradona, having moved on to Napoli, risked sanctions from the Italian football authorities for skipping club training sessions and even Serie A games.

Maradona would surely have won a lot more than his 91 caps if he had played some of Bilardo’s 24 first matches in charge and captained the side more than 57 times. He went nearly three years without playing for his country, from the loss to Brazil in the World Cup on July 2, 1982, in Barcelona, to his first match under Bilardo, a friendly with Paraguay in Buenos Aires on May 9, 1985.

However, once qualifying in South America, not the 18-match marathon it is now, got under way that year, he was there leading the team…and the rest is a well-known chapter or two in history.

Maradona is not placing the same responsibilities he shouldered on to one member of Argentina’s present generation of players.

He has told Javier Mascherano that he wants him to captain Argentina, but he also met with Lionel Messi during his European tour last week for, no doubt, he sees Barcelona’s wonder kid as the player who can embody his inspirational game on the pitch.

Messi goes into the 2010 World Cup, assuming Argentina qualify, with a similar background to Maradona’s pre-1986, both with a World Youth Cup victory under their belts followed by frustration in the senior tournament.

Messi was the substitute Argentines wanted to see unleashed on Germany’s two tall and lumbering central defenders during the second half of the 2006 quarter-final in Berlin. Coach Jose Pekerman had other ideas, Germany equalised and then won the penalty shootout.

A Maradona-like resurrection would put Messi and Argentina on top of the world in 2010.

PHOTO: Messi emulates Diego Maradona’s “hand of god” goal with an equaliser against city rivals Espanyol, Barcelona, June 9, 2007. REUTERS/Albert Gea


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[…] Source: Rex Gowar […]

Posted by Soccer Camps » Blog Archive » Mascherano is captain, but Messi must play the Maradona role | Report as abusive

I dont agree with what Maradona did. He should have made Messi captain since he is the heart & soul of the national Team. Plus he is young and you have to build a team around him. This will effect how Argentina plays; mark my words. Plus Javier Mascherano is too cocky and will let it go to his big head and ruin how they play.

Posted by Kenny | Report as abusive

I don’t agree with Kenny here … if Maradona is building his team around one of the best mid-fielders in the world then he must have kept so many things in mind. by doing this, he is not changing Argentina’s style of play. Instead if the team is around Mascherano, then there will be alot of space provided for Messi and Alguero and imagine what will happen to other teams. a simple destruction

Posted by Umar | Report as abusive

umar u r so funny haha

Posted by farid | Report as abusive

The AFA are bound by their agreement with Barca priot to the Olympics – making Messi a captain only when his club allow him to play would be madness. Mascherano will be the perfect captain directing from midfield.

Posted by meatandmalbec | Report as abusive

Javier Mascherano must be the best candidate of captain,tigerish and tenacious, Javier will give a fresh image to the world as a new role.Middlefield is prior,that is the point I cannot agree with Diego any more.

Posted by Gabriel | Report as abusive

seems like u dont have any footballing sense. I guess you dont even know how to differentiat between Narrative Intelligence and Footballing Intelligence

Mascherano is the best and plays for the best club in da world

Posted by Umar | Report as abusive