Scorer Of One Of The Best World Cup Goals Ever Retires
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Esteban Cambiasso was a box-to-box midfielder who did a bit of everything, a prototypical Jose Mourinho player. The legendary Argentine retired on Friday at the age of 37 after two decades of play, most of which he played with his iconic bald dome.
Cambiasso won five Scudetti and one Champions League with Inter Milan, plus a La Liga title with Real Madrid. What he may be remembered for most — aside from that bald head — is scoring one of the most incredible World Cup goals of all time for La Albiceleste.
The shot itself was nothing special, with Cambiasso stabbing his left peg at the ball and punching it into the top of the net. The buildup play was nothing short of magnificent. Argentina played 26 passes prior to the goal, the assist coming off a clever back heel from Hernan Crespo. The goal was an ode to some of the magical players on the squad, including Cambiasso, Crespo, Juan Roman Riquelme, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Heinze, Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodriguez, Javier Saviola, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi. (Maxi’s goal against Mexico in the Round of 16 a week later was another thing of beauty and it was a shame Argentina was paired with Germany in Berlin in the quarterfinals.)
Cambiasso scored five goals in 52 caps with Argentina (one came against the U.S. in a 1-1 draw in a 2011 friendly). He found net 74 times in his club career, but the defensively midfielder wasn’t a star because of his goal-scoring abilities. He was a star because of his intelligence, defensive acumen, passing quality, technical ability and the always-hard-to-quantify heart.
Cambiasso was a club legend with Inter Milan, playing for 10 seasons at the San Siro, a ubiquitous bald presence in the Italian side’s midfield from 2004-2014. In a testament to his abilities (and likability), he also became somewhat of a legend at Leicester City, being named the club’s Player of the Year in 2015 (since somewhat overshadowed by what the Foxes did the next year).
After one season with Leicester, Cambiasso spent his final two seasons with Olympiacos, winning Superleague titles both years. He ended his career as he began it. In 1997, alongside the likes of Riquelme, Pablo Aimar and Walter Samuel, Cambiasso won the FIFA World Youth Championship.
Unlike some of his teammates over the years, Cambiasso never had the serenity of Riquelme, the pomp of Crespo, the power of Tevez, the speed of Samuel Eto’o, the vision of Wesley Sneijder or the brilliance of Messi, but he had a little bit of everything and showed it for more than 20 years throughout a wonderful career.