Riquelme – Argentina vs Bolivia – 2007

7 10 2010

Goals … And The Stories Behind Them …

Lionel Messi is widely acknowledged as the finest player in the world today. In 2007, his talents were well known but the Argentinian footballing public had seen only glimpses of his abundant talent. Messi had been hustled out of South America whilst still a boy and the people were anxious to see that the youngster from Europe was the real deal.

Juan Roman Riquelme on the other hand, they knew all about.

Riquelme, the personification of the Argentinian enganche, was and is a Boca Juniors legend. A sublime footballer of breathtaking vision. The following passage sums it up best:

‘Riquelme’s brains,’ Jorge Valdano said, ‘save the memory of football for all time … he is a player of the time when life was slow and we took the chairs out on the street to play with the neighbours.’
Jonathan Wilson, Inverting The Pyramid

But he had been chewed up and spat out by European football and by 2007, at just 28 years old, he was back pulling the strings for his beloved Boca.

Not that Riquelme was blameless. He had refused to train for Pekerman at Villarreal and, more recently, for all Diego Maradona’s eccentricities, the No.10’s exile from the national team is self-imposed.

Even with fellow players, Riquelme was an obtuse character – enduring a difficult relationship with fellow Boca legend Martin Palermo. Remarkably, there are well documented stories of Riquelme even disrespecting the boy wonder Messi himself  by dismissing him with the line “Get out kid, the adults are talking” at the 2007 Copa America.

However, for one blissful moment against Bolivia later that year, old and new still managed to mesh together quite beautifully to produce a superb goal for Argentina.

The goal encapsulates much of what is exceptional about both players – Messi with his close control and dribbling perfection; Riquelme with the languid swish of that bewitching right foot.

For Argentinian football it is a fleeting moment, a wistful regret that hints at what might have been.

For the rest of us, it is simply a wonderful goal.





2 responses

8 10 2010

Riquelme nearly joined West Ham in the summer I believe.

Would have been intriguing to see how he performed in the Premiership.

Not sure about the commentary on that video.

“This man has got a walkie-talkie directly to heaven gods”.

Can’t imagine Andy Gray using that one anytime soon.

11 10 2010

Hi Thomas
The commentary on some of these youtube clips is a real eye-opener!
I make no apologies for saying I love Riquelme. He is a genius hampered by chronic lethargy – which I find a strangely alluring combination. Doubt he would have been a good fit for The Prem – actually it may well have been a disaster – but his achievements with Boca and Villarreal are remarkable.

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