BUENOS AIRES: Roberto Perfumo, one of the pillars of Argentinian football in the 1960s and 1970s, has died aged 73 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A minute’s silence was held at the Estadio Monumental last night before River Plate’s 1-1 draw against Sao Paulo in the Copa Libertadores. River’s players wore black armbands.

Perfumo was an iron-willed and resolute central defender nicknamed El Mariscal (The Marshal), who played in the 1966 and 1974 World Cups and totalled 77 appearances for his country.

Roberto Perfumo: World Cup star in 1966 and 1974

The 1966 team, possibly the most technically talented squad at the finals in England, lost in the quarter-finals, beaten by their hosts and their own temperamental instability. In 1974 Perfumo captained the side who reached the second round in West Germany.

Perfumo was born in Sarandi on October 3, 1942, and, as a teenage hopeful, was turned down after trials with Lanus, Independiente and River Plate.

Club champion

Racing offered him a “last chance” and he took committed advantage. Originally a halfback, Perfumo switched initially to leftback and made his Racing debut in an international tournament against Brazil’s Flamengo in Santiago in January 1964.

Coach Juan Jose Pizzutti converted him subsequently to become one of the best centre-backs in the history of Argentinian football and he was at the heart of the Racing team who won the league in 1966 and then the Copa Libertadores and World Club Cup in 1967.

These were years when Argentina’s club and national teams became notorious for their cynicism and violence. But the failure to reach the finals of the 1970 World Cup prompted a reappraisal of style.

In 1971 Perfumo transferred to Brazil’s Cruzeiro where he was three times a Mineiro state champion and once winner of the Copa Minas Gerais. He returned home to lead River Plate to three Argentinian league titles in 1975 and 1977.

Perfumo retired in 1978 at 36 and tried his hand at coaching with mixed results. Sarmiento of Junin sacked him after relegation but he later returned to work with Racing, Olimpia of Paraguay and Gimnasia da La Plata – whom he guided to success in the Copa Centenario, oreganised to mark the 100th anniversary of the AFA.

In recent years he was a regular TV football analyst.

Perfumo slipped and fell on a staircase in a restaurant in Puetro Madero on Wednesday night. He suffered head, hip and leg injuries and died yesterday after being taken to the Los Arcos hospital.

Perfumo’s football philosophy:

Some of Perfumo’s aphorisms about the game became famous, such as:

Tenacity is one of the most important qualities for a footballer;

For a footballer there is no-one better than another footballer – as long as he is on your side;

Defence can make you invincible but attack makes you a winner; and

Good players are the ones who stand up to be counted when your team are losing.