Friday, May 24, 2024

“El Flaco” César Menotti, Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-Winning Coach, Dies at 85

HomeSports News"El Flaco" César Menotti, Argentina's 1978 World Cup-Winning Coach, Dies at 85

The inimitable force of nature that was César Luis Menotti has shuffled off this mortal coil at 85 years old. Argentina’s eccentric, revolutionary coaching icon who captivated the world with his swaggering 1978 World Cup winners has taken his final bow.

In typical Menotti flair, the news arrived via the Argentine FA with shades of dramatic flourish – “The Argentine Football Association regrets to report with great sadness the death of César Luis Menotti, current Director of National Teams and former World Champion coach of Argentina.” The maverick’s demise follows a period of fading health after a spill months ago.

Nicknamed “El Flaco” (The Slender One), the slight, sinewy Menotti cut an unmistakable figure stalking touchlines and embedding his unique attacking DNA into teams. As a player, he was a prolific striker dazzling for Rosario Central, Racing, Boca Juniors and others across South America in the 1960s.

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But it was in the dugout where Menotti truly danced his disruptive tango. He announced himself by captivating Huracán with a Metropolitano title in 1973. This set the stage for his grandest work – that audacious, swashbuckling 1978 World Cup winning Argentina side.

With a sprinkling of Menotti magic on Mario Kempes and co., Argentina hosted and thrashed the Netherlands in the final to etch their name into immortality. Their offensive, free-flowing brilliance was the beautiful game’s history.

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Menotti rode that wave of glory to jobs at Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. His tenures were a whirlwind – winning trophies at the former while flustering the establishment with his abrasive, uncompromising methods everywhere he went.

You didn’t just get Menotti the coach – it was the whole Menotti experience. The same gravitational pull that drew players under his spell could also spectacularly combust into feuds with administrators, rivals and anyone defying his dogmatic vision of expressionism on the pitch.

After more dizzying spells at Boca Juniors, Mexico’s Pumas, Sampdoria and even a return to Argentina’s national team setup in his twilight years, Menotti’s incandescent star has finally burnt out. But his seismic impact on the sport’s essence remains seared into the culture.

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For Menotti was the Platonic ideal of the high-minded but volatile fĸfball ī̲ddꟻꞁ. Where his great coaching antithesis Carlos Bilardo embraced cold realpolitik, Menotti lived and breathed the romance of attack at all costs. He represented art over math, beauty over brutality in soccer’s endless ideological tug-of-war.

Love him or loathe him, the game’s pantheon has lost one of its most authentic, uncompromising voices. How fitting that even Menotti’s theatrical exit, like the man himself, shredded convention and kept us all guessing one last time.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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