It was the emblem of a generation with the shirt of Argentina. He played for River, Corinthians, West Ham, Liverpool, Barcelona, Hebei Fortune and Estudiantes. There were 850 games and 25 titles.
You can discuss his last days of blue and white, that forced goodbye through tears due to the impotence of not having managed to win a title with the Major. That trophy that he sought and sought and never came. It was during the convulsed World Cup in Russia, just two years ago. Javier Mascherano was already far from his best level and the stature of a soccer hero that he had reached in the popular imagination in Brazil 2014, when he seemed to be the only one capable of gathering the consensus to fix all the problems and even repair that eternal crack that shakes Argentina.
In no way, of course, will it be possible to deny everything that Javier Mascherano represented for the National Team. If he debuted with the Argentine shirt before playing in the First Division. If he hung two gold medals at the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. It was one of the most prominent central flyers with the AFA shield embroidered on the chest, like the Tolo Galician, the Checho Batista Fernando Redondo. Protagonist of a top career.
So that footballer who unexpectedly announces his retirement on a Sunday in November causes an impact. Because of the relevance of his figure and because he put an end to an extraordinary journey in the world of baseball. There were 850 games, 25 titles and 11 goals in 17 years. Nobody imagined that he would play his last ninety minutes against Argentinos Juniors. Lucas Chaves, the goalkeeper with whom he exchanged the shirt, never dreamed that he would have a museum piece in his hands.
“I want to announce that today I am retiring from football professionally, I want to thank this club that gave me the opportunity to finish my career in Argentina,” said Mascherano, at age 36, in the press auditorium of the Uno stadium. He was accompanied by Leandro Desábato, the student coach, saddened by the defeat and the departure of the last leader, just a few days after the farewell of another “5” of the elite, Fernando Gago.
“It is something that I had been thinking about at this time and today I am communicating it. It seems to me that it is the most correct thing to do it this way, there are things that happened to me these months ”, he added without breaking his voice. “It is time to finish this road and I know that, unfortunately, I played less than I intended and things turned out this way,” he said.
The news surprised locals and strangers, crossed the Atlantic and generated a stir at dawn in Europe. After all, Mascherano played in two major leagues: the Premier League and the Spanish.
Together with Lionel Messi, his friend and squire, he got tired of doing Olympic laps with Barcelona. There were 19 titles: 5 leagues, 5 King’s Cups, 3 Spanish Super Cups, 2 Champions Cups, 2 European Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups; 25 in total, if you count the Apertura Tournament that he won with River, the Brasileirao that he conquered with Corinthians, the 2 Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008, the South American Sub 20 in Montevideo 2003 and the Pre-Olympic in Viña del Mar 2004, all with the Youth selection.
He came to Gaudí’s city after the World Cup in South Africa in exchange for 21 million euros. Gone were Liverpool and West Ham. And to think that Pep Guardiola received him with a phrase that he usually laughs at in private. “You know that you come here not to play, right?”
And the debut in Barcelona seemed to agree with the prestigious coach. On September 11 he put on the Blaugrana shirt and was replaced at halftime. Hercules won 2 to 0. Later, his consolidation as a central defender would come, the position he ended up occupying in Estudiantes.
He left Barcelona, played for Hebei Fortune in China and Juan Sebastián Verón called him to play for Estudiantes. “I return to live in my country, which I have not done for 14 years. I meet my family again, because I have not been with them for a long time and I miss them very much. And I go back to football where I started, with everything that this situation generates for me “He said a year ago, when he decided to return to Argentina. The coach was Gabriel Milito, a former teammate in the Barça.
He played four World Cups with the Argentine National Team. Diego Maradona, in Messi times, said that his team was Mascherano plus 10 and anointed him as captain until he gave the ribbon to Leo when Alejandro Sabella took over the blue and white helm. But he was always a benchmark without a bracelet. That’s why they called him Boss. And his best moment, in 2014, when Mascherano was much more than a tactical midfielder, with a strong leg, fast and clear passes.
In Brazil he was the owner of a hashtag: #Maschefacts. And although Chiquito Romero covered the penalties against the Netherlands, it was this Santa Fe born in San Lorenzo who became a hero for that unforgettable cross against Arjen Robben. The pain of the lost final with Germany did not heal.
Jorge Sampaoli could not get him off the plane to Russia and ended up winning the position. And he ended up being the record player, with 147 games played. They were 59 in the global counting their participation in the youth.
Say goodbye to the emblem of a generation of footballers who left their mark on the National Team, even though they could not raise any Cup. And he was brutally honest when closing his page as a footballer: “It has been hard for me for a long time and I did not want to disrespect my colleagues and Students”.
It was clear to Argentinos, but it doesn’t matter. His last game will not tarnish that hierarchy-laden past. Much less, the future that is looming in the AFA. Claudio Tapia has already reserved a preferential place for him. As a sports director or youth coordinator? Time will tell. Merits abound.