Menotti, the “skinny one” who removed the inferiority complex from Argentine soccer players

05/06/2024

That tall, white, thin man, with long blonde hair always combed back, who dressed in clothes that made his appearance walk on the border between looking like a spy, a private investigator, and a seventies South American rocker, was a revolutionary. .

His ideas – ahead of their time – changed the history of Argentine football. After being an elegant footballer, with a good mid-distance punch, but who did not have great physical capacity (tired, as the newspaper El Clarín defined him), César Luis Menotti became the coach who named his country’s National Team (until then without much international prominence, far from these lands), to sound throughout the world.

After winning champion Hurricane –always with a cigarette in his hand that gave him an air of a calm, serene, thinking intellectual when he was sitting on the bench; but that he used to calm his nerves, cope with the pressure and, from time to time, enjoy the visual spectacle that mixes the tactical order that required and the freedom he gave to the geniuses, the talented ones on his team to attack and crush the rivals– He became the coach of the Argentine National Team.

It was in 1974. The Albiceleste team was eliminated from the second phase of the World Cup that was played that year in West Germany after finishing last in group B, where they were Netherlands, Brazil and Democratic Germany. They lost 4-0 against the Netherlands and 1-2 against Brazil, and drew 1-1 against the Germans. They only added one point.

After that failure, David Bracuto, a director of the Argentine Football Association (AFA)saw in “Flaco” and his way of see, live, think about football, the “angel” who would restore the essence of the national team. César Luis Menotti, at 35 years old, debuted as a national coach in September 1974 against the Spanish National Team (1-1).

Later, his tireless work turned him into a myth. He was the coach who guided the Argentine National Team to its first world title in 1978. He achieved it at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires on June 25. In the final they beat the Netherlands 3-1 (double by Mario Kempes and another by Daniel Bertoni). The group directed by Menotti gave the Argentines a joy that was like a balm for the social reality they lived under the dictatorship of Jorge Videla.

That happiness was the consequence of a change of mentality that he implemented in Argentine footballers. In the book “the 11 powers of the leader”written by the former Argentine soccer player Jorge Baldanoone of the best anecdotes that reflect the character of “Flaco” was recorded.

He took his players on a tour of Europe. He did it with the intention of denitrifying European footballers. He did it. “European football intimidated us because of its speed and physical strength. Germany, from the same presence, confirmed its legend. Nobody said anything, but we looked at that physical spectacle with a certain inferiority complex,” said one of those led by Flaco.

Then one of them told him that the Germans were very strong. The coach, calm, responded: “Powerful? Don’t talk nonsense. If we take any of those blondes to the house where you grew up, three days later they will take them out on a stretcher. Strong you, who survived all that poverty and play football ten thousand times better than those guys.” Afterwards he continued smoking a cigarette, as he did until last Sunday, when he died at 85 years old. Menotti? Eternal.

When will the funeral services take place?

According to information released by the Argentine Football Association on its social networks, César Luis Menotti’s wake will take place this Tuesday, May 7, at the Lionel Andrés Messi property owned by the AFA in Ezeiza. The body will be exposed between 10 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. The ceremony will be intimate for his family, close friends and Argentine soccer personalities.

 
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