Thursday, September 14, 2006

Riquelme retires from international football

I...don't know what to write. What a shock for all Argentina fans, both those who love Roman and those who critique him constantly.

Juan Roman Riquelme is one of my favourite players and one of the reasons I fell in love with the Albicelestes, winning me over with his elegant passing, brilliance with deadballs and that strange, ponderous sorrow always etched into the lines of his face.

Highpoints of his time with the Albicelestes include a dazzling 3-1 win over Brazil in qualification for the Germany World Cup in the Monumental, in which he scored a brilliant goal from outside the box and provided the freekick that led to one of Crespo's goals; that World Cup opener against the Ivory Coast in which he provided the assists for both goals including a perfect disguised pass for a sublime goal by Saviola; and of course a game that will live long in the memory - Argentina 6, Serbia and Montenegro 0. FIFA gave him man of the match for a performance in which he ran the game and was involved in the build-up to 4 of the 6 goals, including that 24-pass dream of a team goal finished off by Cambiasso.

The thought of never getting to see him split a defence with a single pass or float in a perfect freekick in the sky-blue-and-white again is depressing, to say the least.

I believe he will lead Villarreal to further glory for a while yet, being only 28 years old and in the prime of his career. But what now for Argentina? With Roman's retirement the team Pekerman built has been completely dismantled, because how can a team be built around a player who isn't there anymore?

Who will be the new no. 10 under Basile? Will it be the newly resurgent Aimar and D'Alessandro, given new leases of life at Zaragoza? Tevez, if he gets off to a good start in the Premiership? Or one of the new boys - Aguero, who carried Independiente but has yet to settle at Atletico, or the undoubtly talented Messi, whose best position has yet to be found?

A player like Roman would be a great loss to any team, but thankfully Argentina have a wealth of playmaking options that would be the envy of quite a few other nations. That upcoming friendly against Spain is looking ever more interesting.


Lynda said...

A really nice piece on one of my favorite players too. This news put a real damper on my day yesterday. Now with Pekerman, Sorin, AND Riquelme gone, what will become of the Argentina squad some of us fell in love with during the World Cup?

Oh, that Argentina v Serbia and Montenegro game. Words fail me.

linda said...

Thanks! By the way, I really enjoy reading 'a pretty move'. You guys do a great job.

I was shocked and sad in equal measure. The best we can hope for now, I guess, is that Basile's Argentina continues where Pekerman's left off.

I keep re-watching that game. Never gets old. Or like the Argentine writer who occasionally works for the Guardian's Football section said when asked if she had seen the game: "I'm still seeing it."