for a young man Lionel Scaloni 17 year olds cross paths with Joseph Pekerman had features of epiphany, a kind of eureka effect which allowed him to unlock his career. The rebellious teenager, joker, gave way to a footballer of all the letters, anxious to raise his career to the limit of his conditions.
“Pekerman changed his life,” says Maria Cristina Fossaroli, Scaloni’s sixth and seventh grade teacher bluntly. These words are not only his. It is a truth that is repeated in every corner of Pujato, the town of Santa Fe where the coach of the argentina national team.
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“It was hard for him to study, to concentrate, until he understood what was really important and then, there was a before and an aftershe adds, sitting at the same desk that the DT used when she attended school number 227 Bernardino Rivadavia, like someone launching a revelation.
“Pekerman has been someone very important in his career, I assure you,” confirms Mauricio Sesana, Scaloni’s friend and one of the people who know him best and best. “As a boy,” he said, Lionel was awful, but over the years he managed to settle down. It matured, but never lost its imprint, always focused on becoming the focus of uniting groups.
Scaloni was first called up by Pekerman in 1996. The winger-midfielder played for Estudiantes de La Plata, having made his debut at Newell’s, and José called him up for the Argentina youth team. This first contact opened his eyes. He came to understand that football goes beyond the natural conditions and the initial effort, and that behind it there is a series of defining concepts, such as understanding that the important thing is not to arrive but to stay in the elite.
Message from Lionel Scaloni in memory of the 1997 Under-20 crown in Malaysia
From that moment Pekerman had it as remarkable piece for your equipment. Not only on the field, where he was an important player in his position, but also outside, with his qualities for forming groups and coping with daily life.
From Malaysia 1997 to Germany 2006, Scaloni’s journey with Pekerman
Scaloni was instrumental in winning the junior title at the Under-20 World Cup in Malaysia in 1997. He became a player of extreme confidence for Pekerman, who never took his eyes off him. The current Venezuela coach took him into account nine years later, when he was already the major’s coach included him in the squad for the World Cup in Germany.
Scaloni played in a World Cup match in Germany, against Mexico, in the 2-1 round of 16 victory. He was the starter. A duel remembered by fantastic goal from Maxi Rodriguez in extension. In the quarter-finals, Argentina would be eliminated against the locals.
The day Scaloni had to face Pekerman
“It’s a bit strange to have to face him, knowing what he represented for me and for the guys in the technical staff, the youth course for so many years. He left a legacy and we hope to be able to pick up or continue what was there at that time,” Scaloni admitted ahead of the Qualifying game against Venezuela, a team coached by Pekerman.
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In this match, Scaloni’s Argentina beat Pekerman’s Venezuela 3-0. In the previous one, the two kissed, as did Samuel and Aimar, members of the Albiceleste technical staff. It was a special greeting, as if it were a flag transfer. It is logical: the germ of this youth team is present in the current team. Respect, teaching, sacrifice and all of this as the spearhead of a team which – it is known – has talent.
Pekerman’s intervention in Scaloni’s career was essential. The pujatense, even, put it in divine height. “For me it’s God”He came to say it in September 2018, without hesitation, as he was taking his first steps as a national team DT.
Scaloni, the Big Brother of the Pekerman national team in 2006
A series of statements dating from 2006, before playing the World Cup in Germany, confirm that Scaloni has always given importance to the group. Even as a player, he took on a role that went beyond what he did on the field of play. “I feel comfortable and respected by everyone. I try to make sure everyone loves me and that we’re all okay. The unity of the group is important because if there is one in a bad mood, this one can contaminate the other. And that must be taken into account,” he acknowledged in an interview with the Clarin Newspaper.
And he added, a few days before the start of the World Cup: “We are 23 brothers, we cannot think otherwise. We know why we play. And fortunately, there are no bad apples in this group. That’s what he expects from the national team: a fraternity, a group that can give something more in times of need.
Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals of this World Cup in Germany, but for Scaloni it was a kind of master to consolidate his thoughts. A crash course for correct the concepts that I already had, which has matured over time. He learned a lot about what he is looking for as a national team manager in Malaysia 1997 and Germany 2006.
This will be the third World Cup for Scaloni. After Germany 2006, he was in Russia 2018, in the coaching staff led by Jorge Sampaoli. Qatar 2022 will be the supreme challenge, with Lionel Messi as a great reference and Pekerman’s legacy as a spiritual guide.
Lionel Scaloni, life and work: Chronicle of a trip to Pujato to understand how the DT thinks
Lionel Scaloni, coach of the Argentine football team (Photo: AP).