Cesar Luis Menotti, architect of Argentina’s 1978 World Cup triumph dies

Cesar Luis Menotti, who famously coached Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 1978, an achievement described as one of the “country’s greatest joys”, has died at the age of 85, the country’s football federation (AFA) announced Sunday.

“The Argentine Football Association regrets to report with great sadness the death of Cesar Luis Menotti, former world champion coach of Argentina,” the AFA said in a statement.

The chain-smoking Menotti managed 11 clubs, some more than once, and two national teams — Argentina and Mexico — in a coaching career that lasted 37 years.

But he will be best remembered for leading Argentina to the 1978 World Cup played on home soil at a time when the country was ruled by a repressive junta.

In the final, Argentina defeated the Netherlands 3-1 after extra-time with flamboyant man of the tournament Mario Kempes scoring twice against a Dutch side shorn of Johan Cruyff, who had refused to play in the World Cup.

Menotti opted not to pick 17-year-old phenomenon Diego Maradona, who had made his international debut the year before.

Reacting to Menotti’s death, Argentina President Javier Milei expressed on X his “deep pain at the departure of the leader of a team that has given one of the greatest joys to the country”.

Menotti was also fondly remembered in Mexico where he took charge of the national team between 1991 and 1992 before spells with club sides Puebla and Tecos between 2006 and 2007 — his last jobs as a coach.

“Teacher of teachers, the greatest for me,” former international Carlos Hermosillo wrote on X. “My gratitude for what you did in Mexican soccer. For me there was a before and after you.”

Hermosillo, now a television commentator on Fox Sports, said Menotti had backed him to eventually become “the most outstanding Mexican goal scorer”.

Menotti got that right. Between 1993 and 1996, Hermosillo won three consecutive individual scoring titles and when he retired he was the second best scorer in Mexican football history with 294 goals.

“Cesar Luis Menotti, a football savant, philosopher, erudite, thoughtful, intelligent, pleasant, educated… passed away… I cannot finish listing his qualities,” wrote journalist Jose Ramon Fernandez, who was a broadcast partner of the Argentine analyst at several World Cups.

“We had long talks, we shared World Cups, laughter, anecdotes.”

Spanish giants Barcelona, where Menotti coached between 1983 and 1984, winning the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup, also extended their sympathy.

“FC Barcelona wants to express its condolences after the death of the club’s former coach, Cesar Luis Menotti. Rest in peace.”


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