Cesar Luis Menotti, Argentina 1978 World Cup-winning coach, dies aged 85

Argentina’s World Cup-winning coach Cesar Luis Menotti has died at the age of 85.

Menotti guided Argentina to glory on home soil in 1978 after excluding Diego Maradona from his squad, feeling the 17-year-old was too young to face the pressure of the tournament.

Running the risk of being cast a villain throughout Argentina, the chain-smoking Menotti – who was know as ‘Flaco’ (Slim) – would eventually became a national hero as the South Americans won the World Cup for the first time.

“The Argentine Football Association regrets to report with great sadness the death of Cesar Luis Menotti, current director of national teams and former world champion coach of @Argentina,” the AFA posted on X.

“Goodbye, Flaco dear!”

Menotti’s birth was registered in Rosario in November 1938 and he spent his playing career as a midfielder in Argentina and Brazil, as well as spending time in the North American Soccer League with the New York Generals.

He was technical director at Buenos Aires-based Huracan before being appointed Argentina manager in 1974.

Menotti, with players such as Daniel Passarella, Mario Kempes and Osvaldo Ardiles at his disposal, guided Argentina to World Cup glory four years later with a 3-1 final victory over the Netherlands.

Argentina could not repeat the feat in Spain four years later as the 21-year-old Maradona had a disappointing tournament and Menotti’s side exited at the second group stage.

Menotti managed Barcelona in the 1983-84 season and won the Copa del Rey, Copa de la Liga and the Supercopa de Espana in Catalonia.

He continued to manage until 2007  with Atletico Madrid, Boca Juniors, Independiente and Sampdoria among a plethora of clubs.

Menotti returned to football in his ninth decade, appointed director of the Argentina national teams in January 2019 at the age of 80.

His former club Boca posted on X: “The CABJ deeply regrets the death of Cesar Luis Menotti, former player and coach of our institution and the Argentine national team.

“We warmly greet your family and loved ones. Goodbye, Flaco.”

Barcelona also paid tribute, saying: “FC Barcelona deeply regrets the passing of former Barca coach, Cesar Luis Menotti. Rest in peace. Farewell, Flaco.”

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