March 1, 2021

Copa América: Gareca, Pablo Escobar and how to resurrect Peru | sports

He was about to die, but he did not know it.

Richard Tiger Gareca (Tapiales, Buenos Aires, 61 years old) is one of the 99 guys who know what it's like to wear the Boca and River jersey. But that did not bring him any conflict beyond the typical insult of the turn-around. He stole a hard Daniel Pasarella the historic goal that qualified Argentina for the World 86, controversial for its authorship. "The goal is mine. Passarella knows it and I know it. I'm not going to discuss, they say what they say, "he told EL PAÍS. But that did not bring any consequences either. Play in Colombia in the 80s, yes. Gareca was about to explode the car when he played in América de Cali. But, of course, he did not know.

They were hard times in Colombia. The Medellin Cartel was in full dispute with the Cali Cartel and football is never too clear about whether it plays for the side of peace or the side of war. "Gareca was always in the crosshairs of the 'Patron," explained John Jairo Velásquez, known as Popeye, Pablo Escobar's best-known hitman. El Tigre was the star of América de Cali (between 1985 and 1989 he scored 57 goals in 116 games) and Escobar was looking for a rematch after his enemies in Cali had attacked his family. "Pablo's love for football saved Gareca. Escobar had planned to put a car bomb, "revealed Popeye to a Peruvian newspaper. "I have spent sensational years of my life in Colombia," Gareca replied. "These are things that come out after 25 years and that I did not have or have any kind of knowledge."

From first line

Gareca never made a noise, neither to haggle bombs nor to run for big teams. "Sometimes journalism or people have a wrong idea of ​​things," says Christian Bassedas, UAI coach Urquiza (of the metropolitan B, equivalent to the Second B in Spain), former sports director of Vélez; "Gareca is believed to be a second-line coach and it's just the opposite. He is first class and he showed it in Vélez (he won four titles), in Talleres (two) and now he does it in the Peruvian national team. He is a person who always rowed her. When I signed him for Vélez I knew he was a coach, that in addition to his tactical knowledge he had a lot of descent in the players. The wardrobe respects him. "

Gareca began his career as a coach in the second division of Argentine soccer. He stepped up little by little, until he devoted himself to Vélez. He went to Palmeiras and in 2015 he took the Peruvian national team, then alien to his identity and without results. "In the seventies, Peru, Argentina and Brazil were selections that had the same characteristics; over the years Peru stayed in time, "Gareca says. And he explains: "We did not invest in infrastructure, we have the same as 30 years ago. The State turned its back on sport and those consequences have been paid dearly. In Peru there is a good quality of players, but there is a lack of quantity ". Gareca placed Peru in the semifinals of the America's Cup America and qualified for Russia. The Inca team did not get into a World Cup from Spain 82. That is, 36 years without elbowing the elite of football.

After Moscow, the Gareca contract in Peru was exhausted. Coincidentally, when Argentina did not have a coach after the goodbye of Jorge Sampaoli. "El Flaco was not the coach of the national team because he comes from Marcelo Bielsa's school," said his friend Ruggeri. The Leeds coach does not have the sympathy of Claudio Tapia, president of the AFA. "The federation must retain Gareca," warned Teófilo Cubillas, referring to the legendary Peru of the 70s. And renewed. And again the Peruvian team snuck among the four best in America and will face the early hours of Wednesday to Thursday (2.30, Danz) to Chile for a place in the final of Maracana against Brazil.

"He has a European coach style. It has a great team, "says Ruggeri. "But he does not miss anything. He is aware of everything, "says Bassedas. "Sometimes I say to Ricardo", adds Nolberto Solano, former player of Newcastle, Aston Vila, Boca, among others, today second coach of Peru; "Why did not you come 15 years earlier? He has a very important merit what he has done with our national team. "

Gareca, who was about to die (and did not know), has resurrected the Peruvian team.

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