César Luis Menotti obituary – Yahoo Sport

<span>César Luis Menotti speaks at a press conference <a class=Argentina‘s World Cup final against the The Netherlands in 1978.Photo: Mirrorpix/Getty Images” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/fQ99ONfXnxp4CtONf2anZw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/57dec78bc67864305f9 426a6446361ae” data-src= “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/fQ99ONfXnxp4CtONf2anZw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/57dec78bc67864305f9426a 6446361ae”/>

Football manager César Luis Menotti, who has died aged 85, led Argentina to their very first World Cup trophy in 1978: a 3-1 victory on home soil against the Netherlands in the deafening noise of the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires on a pitch. littered with ticker tape. It was a joyous occasion, but one that was soured for many – including Menotti himself – by the fact that the country was led by a ruthless military junta, for whom the victory was valuable propaganda.

Long-haired, intellectual and left-leaning, Menotti was, as Esquire magazine once said, “the embodiment of everything the junta opposed.” But there was a symbiotic relationship between the two parties, for Menotti’s job as manager depended on the protection of dictator Jorge Rafaél Videla, who had come to power in a coup two years earlier, and Videla was wise enough to recognize that Menotti was the representative of the government. Argentina’s best chance at glory.

Although Menotti and his players did not fully understand the extent of state violence at the time, he had to navigate a moral maze throughout the World Cup, privately urging his players to win the tournament not so much for national pride, but for the sake of ordinary football viewers whose family and friends began to bear the brunt of the torture, murders and “disappearances” that became the junta’s modus operandi.

He also derived satisfaction from fostering a freer, more attacking style of play – featuring flair footballers of the caliber of Osvaldo Ardiles, Alberto Tarantini, Daniel Passarella and Mario Kempes – which was the antithesis of what he called ‘right-wing football’: the cynical, dirty methods that had predominated before his arrival in Argentina. While some later accused him of being a collaborator, the more common view was that he did what he could in difficult circumstances.

Menotti was just 39 years old when Argentina won the World Cup and was a skinny, chain-smoking café-society philosopher who took an intellectual approach to football. Although he occasionally had a tendency to make obscure statements about the game – once declaring that ‘a football team is above all an idea’ – he did much to change the attitudes of coaches around the world, and his influence was broad, encouraging the emergence of a manager of sorts. committed to exploring tactical possibilities in all their details. One of his biggest admirers was Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Menotti was born in Rosario in the central province of Santa Fe, and started his football career for local side Unión América, where as a teenager he managed to get himself sentenced to 30 days in prison for writing graffiti on the walls of the club’s stadium. in protest against what he saw as a slide into commercialism. He was already tall and was also a good basketball player, but when Menotti was 16, his father, Antonio, died of cancer, and his dedication to football took on greater significance afterward, as the money would help him support his mother.

An elegant player with a powerful shot, Menotti signed for Rosario Central, where he became known as “El Flaco” (the thin one) and made his La Liga debut as a striker in 1960, where he spent four years until signing for the Buenos Aires club Racing in 1964. The following year he went to Boca Juniors, with whom he was part of the 1965 Argentine championship-winning squad.

By 1967 he had left again, this time for the US, where he played a season for the New York Generals in the fledgling North American Soccer League before signing for Brazilian club Santos, where he played alongside Pelé as they won the Brazilian title won in 1967. 1968. In what turned out to be an itinerant club career, his final step came in 1969, when he signed for Clube Atlético Juventus in Brazil before retiring as a player in 1970, having also won eleven caps between 1963 and 1968 had won for Argentina.

Menotti went straight to work as a coach at Rosario and had a year as assistant manager at Newell’s Old Boys before being appointed manager at Buenos Aires’ Huracán club in 1971, where he developed his distinctive attacking philosophy and made such an impression made by winning the 1973 Metropolitano Championship. that he was appointed manager of Argentina the following year.

In contrast to the chaos that had often preceded him, Menotti’s nine-year era as Argentina manager was stable, based on his insistence on a well-organized fixture list and a government-backed ban on Argentine players under the age of 25 playing abroad. . This allowed him to work more effectively with the young talent at his disposal, including through a newly established national youth team.

By the time the military seized power in 1976, he had already put in place a detailed program to deliver the 1978 World Cup, which dovetailed nicely with the junta’s desire to burnish its global reputation. Menotti showed his mettle and resisted popular calls to include 17-year-old Diego Maradona in the squad, believing he would succumb to the pressure of expectations.

In the 1978 tournament Argentina started well, with wins over Hungary and France taking them through the first group stage, then beating Poland and drawing with Brazil before winning 6–0 against Peru – viewed with suspicion ever since given that Argentina had to winning by four goals or more to progress – took them from the second group stage to the final.

In the final, Kempes gave Argentina the lead in the 38th minute, and after the Netherlands took the match to extra time with an 82nd-minute equalizer from Dick Nanninga, Kempes scored again to make it 2–1, after which Daniel Bertoni sealed the victory.

There was further success for Menotti when Argentina won the World Youth Championship in Tokyo in 1979. But at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, just as Argentina and Great Britain became involved in the Falklands conflict, his side disappointed. With Maradona included in the full squad, this time there was internal division between the younger and older players, and they were eliminated in the second group stage after losses to Italy and Brazil.

Menotti resigned afterwards but was quickly hired by Barcelona, ​​who had also signed Maradona. Although Menotti led his new team to the Copa del Rey, the league cup and the Spanish Super Cup in 1983, there was no domestic competition or European glory, and he decided to leave in 1984.

His later managerial career spanned many clubs, including Boca Juniors (1987), Atlético Madrid (1987-88), River Plate (1989), Peñarol de Montevideo (1990), the Mexican national team (1991-92), Independiente (1991-1992). (1996-1999, interrupted by a short spell at Sampdoria), and then, with increasing gaps between appointments, at Rosario, again Independiente, Pueblo and Tecos.

In 2019, he became director of the Argentina National Football Organization, and held this position until 2023.

• César Luis Menotti, footballer and manager, born October 22, 1938; died May 5, 2024

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