César Luis Menotti, Argentina's world champion coach in 1978, dead at 85

He was one of the most influential figures in the history of Argentine soccer, the ideologue of the modernization of his country's national team.

César Luis Menotti, Argentina coach, world champion in 1978 and legendary figure of Argentine soccer, died at the age of 85, the official account of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) reported this Sunday on X.

"The Argentine Football Association regrets to report with great sadness the death of César Luis Menotti, current Director of National Teams and former World Champion coach of Argentina," the statement said.

Menotti had been admitted to a hospital in Buenos Aires in March for a "severe case of anemia," for which he was discharged in mid-April. Official details about the causes of death have not yet been released.

Although the causes of his death were not officially reported, Menotti, according to the media, died this Sunday "from stomach cancer."

Born in the city of Rosario, Menotti was a player in the 1960s and stood out as a coach, becoming champion with the Huracán club (in 1973) before directing the Argentine national team. In addition to winning the world championship in 1978 and directing the 1982, he is recognized as a pioneer in the modernization of equipment.

The Argentine star Lionel Messi said goodbye to him through his social media: "One of the greats of soccer has left us. Condolences to his family and loved ones, RIP."

As a player, Menotti played for Rosario Central, Racing Club and Boca Juniors in Argentina. He was Pelé's teammate briefly at Santos in Brazil before retiring to dedicate himself to coaching.

Menotti managed fifteen teams in five countries, and since 2019, he has been working as director of AFA national teams, forging a very good relationship with Lionel Scaloni, the world champion coach in Qatar-2022.

After learning of the death, Scaloni published on his Instagram account a photo of Menotti with the World Cup in his hand and wrote: "A soccer master has left us, thank you for those endearing talks in which you left a mark on us, goodbye skinny darling."

Local and international soccer received with pain the news of the death of someone who was one of the promoters of romantic soccer, who always maintained a philosophy based on offensive play and partnerships between soccer players: "The goal is a pass to the net," was one of his famous phrases.

Mario Alberto Kempes, a figure in the 1978 World Cup with Argentina, also said goodbye to him on his social media: "The departure of such an emblematic and beloved figure in the world of soccer is an irreparable loss. César Luis Menotti was much more than a colleague, he was a friend and an invaluable mentor to me."

Recognition for 'El Flaco'

At halftime of the final of the Argentine league in which Estudiantes beat Vélez on penalties this Sunday, his death was announced, and the fans, who filled the stands of the Santiago del Estero stadium (north), exploded in a standing ovation.

Argentine President Javier Milei expressed on his X account his "deep pain at the departure of the leader of a group that has given one of the greatest joys to the country."

FC Barcelona of Spain, a club with which he won three titles as a coach between 1982 and 1983 and in which he coached Diego Maradona, posted on X: "FC Barcelona wants to express its condolences for the death of the Club's former coach, César Luis Menotti. Rest in peace.

The Spanish Atlético de Madrid account, expressed on X: "The Atlético family is in mourning for the death of César Luis Menotti, coach of our club in the 1987/88 season and soccer legend".

The Spanish Football Federation joined in "condolences to all Argentine soccer and to those who enjoyed him during his time in Spanish soccer."

Mexican soccer also made a statement, where 'el Flaco' was coach between 1991 and 1992 and left an excellent image among his team.

"The Mexican Football Federation and the MX League regret the sensitive death of César Luis Menotti," both institutions reported in an obituary published on social media.