Tag Archives: Argentina

Why Does Córdoba Province Produce So Many Players?

CordobaFootball

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.

Why?

    • 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.

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Weekend Reading

The lead character from Mario Benedetti‘s short story, Sábado de Gloria, from his collection Montevideanos, on the joy of waking up at the weekend, “Knowing that I can become serious and think about important topics like life, death, football and war.”

This weekend’s reading:

Newell’s Old Boys… de Laguna Larga

Paulo Dybala was born and raised in the small town of Laguna Larga in Córdoba province, Argentina. He played his first organised football at Sportivo, but when he later returned to Laguna Larga for a brief time, it was to play for the town’s other club: Newell’s Old Boys.

NewellsStand

How did the famous red and black of Newell’s Old Boys of Rosario, the club where Lionel Messi was once a youth team player and which launched the careers of Jorge Valdano, Gabriel Batistuta and Mauricio Pochettino, among many others, end up in Laguna Larga?

In 1945, two neighbourhood teams, Estudiantes and Chacarita, decided to merge. They sent letters to all of the Primera Division sides in Argentina asking for shirts for their new team. None responded. However, later a traveller from Rosario came into town and said he would arrange for Newell’s Old Boys to comply.

They did, and in their honour, the new club took on not only their colours but their name too. And so Club Atlético y Biblioteca Newell’s Old Boys de Laguna Larga was born.

Before Dybala became internationally renowned, the club’s primary claim to fame had been a visit from Diego Maradona in 1993. Maradona was playing for Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario at the time and surprisingly accepted an invitation to dine at the club house of their namesake in Laguna Larga. More than 3,000 people turned up to greet him. The police and fire service had to set up temporary barricades to hold back the crowd. The local newspaper quipped that any robbers would have had a free run at the town that evening.

A clipping of that article and a shirt signed by Maradona hang proudly above the desk in the club office. On an adjacent wall, the distinctive pink of Dybala’s number 9 shirt at Palermo enjoys equal billing.

Last year, the club unveiled a mural to its most famous son, painted on the side of the solitary stand at their Juan E. Verdichio stadium.

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.

The Surprising Subtlety of Claudio Borghi

With his pit-bull build and current employment as a grumpy and bitter television pundit, it is perhaps easy to overlook just how smooth and subtle a player Claudio Borghi was in his time.

Indeed, his standout performance for Argentinos Juniors against Juventus in the 1985 Intercontinental Cup final even briefly saw him touted as a future world star.

That never came to pass, but in the later years of his career, at various Chilean clubs, he produced a series of exquisite goals and assists, among them some wonderfully laconic lobs, that underlined his talent and inventiveness.

03:13 and 04:26 are particular favourites.

Have a Nose Around Some South American Stadiums on Google Street View

This came to my attention through Danny Last (@dannylast) on Twitter.

I’ve tried it out on a few other South American stadiums with similarly good results:

Why not give it a go.

Can MLS Become a Bridge Between South America and Europe?

This seems to be a topic of interest right now. At time of writing, 22 South American players have signed on with Major League Soccer teams ahead of its 2018 season.

The large majority of those players are aged between 18 and 22, and the assumption seems to be that by signing up talented youngsters, MLS can become a bridge between South America and Europe.

I was thinking about this topic while writing a feature on new Atlanta United signing Ezequiel Barco for Soccer 360. Personally, I’m not convinced. Here are a couple of tweets I published last week:

This debate is not a new one. Similar things were said when there was a large influx of Colombian players into MLS following the success of Fredy Montero at Seattle Sounders.

Indeed, I wrote about that very issue for the now sadly defunct XI Quarterly back in 2013. It was my first attempt at a long-form article and benefited greatly from the patient help of my editors, David Keyes and Tom Dunmore, to wrestle some form of coherence from an overload of information and quotes.

Looking back on it now, it includes some of my pet peeves as a reader of long form (including quoted characters who appear randomly across various sections), but its central point remains relevant:

“The perceived financial and social stability available in the United States will continue to attract players aged between 25 and 30 for whom moves to Europe are improbable, but younger players have greater reason to pause before accepting moves to MLS. The league is growing in stature, yet needs to offer a clearer route to Europe and a better platform for call-ups to the national team if it hopes to continue attracting young talent.”