Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Great Di Maria

As the hangover of Argentina's World Cup triumph fades there is a lot of focus on some of the great players who will retire after this World Cup. Most of the focus is obviously on Lionel Messi, who alongside Cristiano Ronaldo has dominated world football for 15-20 years (in 2006 I watched him play for Barcelona alongside Ronaldinho), and who has crowned his career with the World Cup title. But obviously a lot of attention has gone to Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Luka Modric and Luis Suarez - players who have defined the last decade of football, delighted all real football fans, and are set to retire.

But I feel one player is being forgotten: Angel Di Maria has been one of the greatest players in the world for the last 10 years. He has had too many injuries in his career (including the 2014 World Cup final when Argentina could have plausibly won with him on the team against the forward defending slow German defense) and ups and downs in some of his clubs. But he has nevertheless been a defining player in all his clubs, but most notably in the national team, where, despite the fact that he has been overshadowed by Messi, he has stood out: he scored the winner when they won the 2021 Copa America, also scored the winner when Argentina won Olympic gold in 2008, and finally scored Argentina´s opening goal in the World Cup final, following a fantastic first half during which he was one of Argentina's defining players.

A modest player who comes from a very poor background, Di Maria stands out as both a player and a colleague, and if anything, I feel he does not get enough credit for a list of titles that he has certainly had a foot or two in getting for Argentina.

Angel Di Maria will be one of those players who will be missed in the future.

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