‘Messi is liberated’: Jorge Valdano on Argentina, politics and his goal in ‘86

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Former striker discusses his World Cup triumphs and heartbreaks, and the current Argentina side’s chances against the NetherlandsJorge Valdano should have been at the Monumental; instead he was standing alone in a bar. He can still remember its name: Rincón de la Victoria. Just him and a group of Dutch fans looking at the screen, wondering what might have been. Mention Argentina and the Netherlands, who face each other on Friday night, and that’s the moment that comes to his mind. The 1978 final. Ticker tape, Mario Kempes and, clearest of all, Rob Rensenbrink hitting the post. “I watched with ‘long teeth’, envy,” he admits.He was missing out on Argentina winning their first World Cup; he couldn’t know it then, but he wouldn’t miss out on the second. Thirty-six years on from Mexico 86, Valdano would love a third, a spectator again but in the stadium, not some bar. “I asked [the coach César Luis] Menotti. He said if the World Cup started that day, I’d be in the squad. ‘What I can’t promise,’ he said, ‘is that I’ll be coach tomorrow, given this chaos.’ Continue reading...

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