One minute and 37 seconds his analysis lasted to go viral worldwide and be loved even more in Argentina. The white hair that paints his 73 years, the robust voice and his red cheeks; Jorge was sent special to the first two friendlies of the ‘Albiceleste’ like world champions. And from Spain, after the tortuous trip, he responds to El Comercio in an interview in which he not only talks about Messi, Scaloni and world football; but also remembers the great Hugo Sotil in his stage in Barcelona.
-He was in Argentina for Argentina’s first friendly after being world champion. What was it like to return to the country where you were born, but this time for work, from another perspective?
I have traveled to Argentina sporadically for various reasons, but nothing related to soccer. Professionally I am based in Spain. Now, I have no words to thank my people. The displays of affection have been indescribable.
-Today, after winning the world title, Argentina seems to be immersed in an endless party since December 18…
Obviously yes. And they have every right to do so. For me, with humility, I have watched soccer since the 1960s, many world championships, but this Argentine team has been the one that developed the best soccer, as a team, in the history of world soccer.
– Rodrigo De Paul precisely opened the debate weeks ago by saying that this was the best team in the history of Argentina, above the one from 1986 and 1978. He thinks the same, apparently…
I had already said it in “El Chiringuito” during the World Cup and I told him personally. I have not seen a team play soccer like Argentina did in Qatar. Neither that of Pelé in Mexico 70, nor that of the Brazilian Ronaldo in 2002, nor Germany itself. As far as the World Cup is concerned, Argentina has been the most beautiful team to play soccer and produced the best goal in the history of world soccer, collectively speaking, of course, because Maradona has that title in Mexico against England with the ‘Goal of the Century’; but in collective play, the second goal against France in the final, by Ángel di María, was the most beautiful. For the speed of the execution, the talent and the definition; I have not seen a play as beautiful as that.
-Incredibly that goal was not chosen as the best of Qatar 2022.
I will never understand it. As I said in Argentina, comparing that goal with that of Carlos Alberto in the final of Mexico 70, does not make sense. The Brazilian’s was in slow motion, it looked like football from the time of manual cinematography. On the other hand, Di María’s was a dizzying goal. Alfredo di Stefano, a very close friend of mine, may he rest in peace, used to tell me that soccer is skill and speed. That is, to do the best technically at the highest possible speed. I kept that phrase, a legacy of wisdom.
-During the World Cup, you praised the Argentine midfield made up of Enzo Fernández, De Paul and MacAllister, whom you called “Ferraris”. But above all to Enzo, who weeks ago became the most expensive signing in the history of Argentine football for what Chelsea paid Benfica for him. Is Enzo destined to be the best midfielder in the world?
Without a doubt. He was discussing it with Guti, a former Real Madrid player, who had never seen a player like Enzo. But it all depends on him. In football there is one very important thing: it is very easy to get there, the difficult thing is to stay. If he is a smart boy, he should take care of his physique and feeding him. If he is able to maintain that professionalism, we are facing a player for a decade, we have one of the best midfielders in the world.
-Was your decision to sign for Chelsea correct?
British football is a bit of a complex scene. I would have liked him to play for Real Madrid. It was the ideal relief for three or four players who are already old and must be urgently replaced. For me he was the chosen one, but it was not like that. A pity.
-Do you have a close relationship with Lionel Scaloni? In Argentina, the coach approached you and they chatted for a while.
He was surprised when he saw me in the press room. What are you doing here?, she asked me. I replied that I had gone to see him. That’s when the ice broke and we started talking. He knows that he is welcome at “El Chiringuito” and I hope that he keeps his word to go to the program when everything stabilizes in a month.
-Were you surprised how Scaloni went from being an interim coach to winning everything with Argentina in a short time?
I am one of the directors who do not like express things. The word express is very relative. I think Lionel will have to show little by little what a great technician he is, but this explosion of success is not enough for me. He needs more time to permanently establish himself as a great coach.
-But having won a Copa América, a Finalísima and, above all, a World Cup… What is missing?
Sure, but this is like the good surgeon. When one enters an operating room, he does not want the person in charge of the operation to be a recent graduate from the University, even though he has the decoration of having been the best student. We are always looking in the operating room for the surgeon who has had a long journey in his hands. There are positions that require time and being a better coach also requires it.
-Dibu Martinez is the best goalkeeper in the history of Argentina, and is he currently the best in the world after having won The Best?
Yes, he has been the best goalkeeper in Argentina. He has really shown it. He has been key in the Copa América and the World Cup. But he is not the best goalkeeper in the world, not at all. There are better goalkeepers at the moment like Thibaut Courtois, Ter Stegen and Oblak himself.
-The IFAB modified the rule on penalty kicks which was nicknamed ‘Anti Dibu’. Basically the goalkeeper will not be able to try to distract the kicker before the execution. What do you think?
As long as there’s no disrespect, it’s part of the show. If someone can be persuaded by a joke or an intimidating phrase, they better dedicate themselves to something else. The player who is going to take a penalty wins 10 million euros, who is going to intimidate him? And really if he’s persuaded, either he’s a mugger or he’s not really an elite player. This is not a neighborhood or school team, we are talking about the highest level of competition. Because if not now it is “Penal-goal” like at school. I think that in some points we are reaching the limit of the absurd.
-After Qatar 2022, should Lionel Messi be considered the best in history and, above all, better than Maradona?
Messi today is the same as Maradona. He is in the same place. This is like comparing whether God or Jesus Christ was more important, who was first a man and then died on the cross to rise again and become eternal. In Argentina he was received as the son of God, as the son of Diego Armando Maradona. They are the same person and wear the same number, it cannot be said who was the best.
-In the last hours the bomb exploded on the future of Messi. He could return to Barcelona. Do you think it’s the best for him?
Today, Messi is only happy with the Argentine team. He is not happy at PSG. And the truth is that I would not like him to return to Barcelona because they had the opportunity to retain him and they sent him off, and now they want to rectify themselves. I don’t like that environment. I think he shouldn’t come back.
-What would be Messi’s ideal destination if he doesn’t stay at PSG?
I would like him to continue at PSG or, otherwise, go to an Italian team, called Inter because of his friendship with Javier Zanetti. I would not like him to play in the Premier League or a minor league, nor would he return to Argentina. Let him continue in Europe and when he retires, from another perspective, continue to be linked to football.
-Which footballer do you see as a replacement for the table that Messi and Cristiano will leave?
I like Mbappé, a lot. He is a spectacular, unbalancing player. He will never become Messi or Maradona, but he will be the best player in the world. Haaland is a center forward, he is a tank, a scorer, a very special player, but he does not reach the level of Mbappé.
-Remembering your stage as a player a bit, in 1984 you played in a match tribute to Cholo Sotil. How do you remember our legend?
He always seemed to me an exceptional player, pure talent, a genius. He made Barcelona champion with the influence of Johan Cruyff. He was in Europe to be one of the best players in soccer history. When he put himself in the area, on his back, there was no one to move him. He could with everything. A phenomenon. When he hit the ball… Wow! A tremendous force! In short, I have great memories of him as a player.
-Sotil was part of that Peruvian team from the 70s that won a Copa América (1975). How do you remember that golden generation?
The Peru of 70 seemed to me the best I saw of that selection. Afterwards, it never recovered that game identity again. But I think that that generation lacked a good goalkeeper because the goalkeeper Rubiños was not up to everyone’s standards. But in general it was the best team I saw with Ramón Mifflin, Héctor Chumpitaz, Cholo Sotil. In short, many people of great category.
Today, from the first level of Spain, how do you see the Peruvian team?
Far far away. A very modest, very primary football. Gareca returned them to the World Cup, he got the most out of it. You had to wait for him to counterattack with the speed of the tips that were Cueva and Carrillo. But they attacked badly. A very generous team. As a team they seem to have a pretty poor level. Peruvian soccer has to evolve. With this level you can not walk around the house.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.