ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Argentinian domestic football, in which talent has largely gone to the winds, loses more of what skill remains with the definitive retirement this season of Estudiantes de La Plata’s Juan Sebastián Verón at 38.
After a long career, playing in England and Italy and also gaining 75 caps for Argentina, he has just returned to action for his original club when still in good form.
His appearance ?? was his 500th competitive professional match, although statistics showed only 187 played for Estudiantes at the start of the current championship.
He wanted to continue playing and even played in a La Plata amateur league recently for a season after he first “retired”, but returned to play for almost nothing to extend his career. But the legacy of injuries suffered during his long career have forced him to take the final decision this time.
Verón was the sort of tactically aware midfield organiser which every team need though today few remain.
Last home game
Argentinian football could shortly lose another in Juan Román Riquelme who considered that his appearance for Boca Juniors last weekend was his last at home in the Bonbonera.
The records state that Riquelme has played not quite 300 matches for the club but it seems more. He remains an idol of the fans who esteem him as the main reason for many of Boca’s honours this century.
Even today, at 35, the team won the majority of their points in the current championship when he was playing which, unfortunately, has not been all that often because of injuries.
Riquelme is the only technical player in the team today. Yet the committee is in two minds about renewing his contract which ends on June 30, because of his more frequent injuries and accusations that he has provoked divisions within the squad.
The midfielder also played in Spain and 49 times for Argentina though it could have been more but he withdrew “because of criticism which made my mother ill.”
Coinciding with these retirements in Argentina is that of yet another midfielder in Javier Zanetti. The 40-year-old who holds the national record of 145 internationals leaves Internazionale Milan this season after 1,113 professional matches of which he played 857 for them in 19 seasons, many as captain (with one more match to play).
His record says everything about his outstanding quality. Zanetti started at Talleres (Escalada) and also played for Banfield before leaving for Italy.
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