The province of Córdoba in Argentina has produced numerous players of note. Franco Vázquez, Javier Pastore and Paulo Dybala are some of the contemporary names, but it is a proud history that goes back much further than that.
In Argentina, perhaps only Buenos Aires and Santa Fe can surpass it.
- Three traditional clubs in the provincial capital of Córdoba city with motive to seek out the best players in its interior: Belgrano, Instituto and Talleres.
- Legendary scouts such as Santos Turza, a flamboyant character who bears a striking resemblance to the late wrestling great Dusty Rhodes. He has worked at Instituto for more than 40 years. From neighbourhood kickabouts to a kid doing keepy-uppies in a bus station car park, wherever talent is to be found, he is there.
- Francisco Buteler, coach of Dybala at youth level at Instituto de Córdoba: “Why Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Córdoba? Because in addition to having spaces to play in, they are also provinces that are more or less affluent. The kids are well fed. Because if you go to Rioja, Cajamarca, Jujuy or Salto you will also find kids who do amazing things with the ball. But they are undernourished and have a different mentality. In my time at Instituto and also at Talleres, we brought in a number of kids from those provinces, but they were always weak in relation to players from other areas. Or they missed their homes: they were often 300-1,000 kilometres away and found it difficult to adapt.”
- Pablo Álvarez, head of youth teams at Instituto de Córdoba: “I don’t know if it’s the geography or the inherent cheekiness and daring of the Cordobeses. That could be the reason…”
- Walter Obregón, ex-player and coach of Dybala at Newell’s Old Boys of Laguna Larga: “Football is big in Córdoba. Very big. It is the most played sport and the most attractive. Córdoba has a lot of football players. It has a lot of kids playing, lots of leagues… And I think this means that more and more, the big clubs come here looking for players.”
This is part of a series of posts on football in Córdoba province intended to complement my feature for Bleacher Report: Paulo Dybala: A Story of a Son and his Father. All of the entries can be found here.