KEIR RADNEDGE at DEAD SEA: Osvaldo Ardiles believes that fellow Argentinian Leo Messi would swap every prize he has collected in his club career to win the imminent World Cup in Brazil.
Messi, 26, has won 21 prizes in European and Spanish club competition with Barcelona whom he joined at 13; at national team level he has won ‘only’ a World Youth Cup in 2005 and Olympic Games gold in 2008.
As for the World Cup Argentina, with Messi on board, lost to Germany in the quarter-finals in both 2006 and 2010.
Ardiles was playmaker when Argentina, as hosts, won the World Cup for the first time in 1978 and was a member of the team dethroned in the second round group stage four years later. Hence his career spanned the interim years between World Cup ‘greats’ Pele and Diego Maradona.
Addressing a World Cup discussion here at the Soccerex Asian Forum, Ardiles said: “Messi might be regarded as the greatest player in the history of the game but he would exchange all the medals he has won with Barcelona just to win one World Cup. That is how important it is for him.
“To be considered alongside the top guys like Pele and Maradona he not has to be in the World Cup but he has to win the World Cup.”
Ardiles also had warning words for Brazil who will be favourites when they play hosts to the world next month.
With memories of 1978 still bright, Ardiles said: “If you’re playing at home it’s an extra pressure . . . It will be good for Brazil to have home advantage going into the World Cup but if things don’t go well it then could be like a boomerang and go against them.”
Ardiles also had mixed memories of the 1978 experience. He said: “You don’t enjoy the World Cup; you are IN the World Cup.
“You are performing so you are worried about the other teams and how you are going to score goals. Afterwards, if you win, then it’s pure ecstasy, pure joy, a unique moment in all your life and the feeling lasts for a long, long time but that is the emotion after the World Cup – not during the it.”
Ardiles, now 61, was also not an advocate for a World Cup team involving the wives and girlfriends along the way. Thinking back to Argentina’s preparations and training camps in 1978 he recalled that the players’ favourite film was Escaope To Victory.
He said: “In 1978 it would have been a very bad idea to have the women with us. Some players have wives plus girlfriends – and that would have created one or two problems.
“In 1978 we didn’t have wives with us for months but in 1982 we had the wives with us – and we were terrible.”
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