Argentina mourns loss of World Cup winner César Luis Menotti, 85

May 7 – César Luis Menotti, the charismatic coach who led Argentina to their first World Cup title in 1978, has died at the age of 85, the Argentine Football Association has announced.

“Farewell, dear Flaco!” said a brief association statement, using Menotti’s nickname which means “the thin one”.

Menotti, who played for Rosario Central, Boca Juniors and Santos, began his coaching career at Newell’s Old Boys and won the Argentine championship with Huracan in 1973, before taking over as head coach of the Argentine national team in 1974.

He was convinced the side did not get the recognition it deserved when it won the World Cup in 1978 because the country was ruled by a military junta responsible for widespread human rights violations.

He left the national side after the 1982 World Cup, went on to coach Barcelona and guided them to Copa Del Rey success in 1983.

For years, Menotti often had a cigarette hanging between his lips but mostly quit the habit in 2011 following a three-day hospitalisation.

“One of the great references of our football left us. Condolences to his family and friends, may he rest in peace,” Argentina’s 2022 World Cup winning captain Lionel Messi said on social media.

Menotti also had spells with Spanish club Atletico Madrid, other Argentine sides in Independiente and River Plate, Uruguay’s Penarol, Sampdoria in Italy and two Mexican clubs Puebla and Tecos.

Local media reports said Menotti was admitted to a clinic in March with severe anemia. He reportedly underwent surgery for phlebitis in April and subsequently returned home.

“Deep sorrow for the departure of a leader of a group that has given one of the greatest joys to the country,” Argentine President Javier Milei said on social media platform X while AFA president Claudio Tapia added: “You gave us a lot in your time with the Argentine national team and football. Undoubtedly, your passing into immortality will be with the best of memories for all of us who love football.”

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