Thursday Oct 22, 2020  
  01/07/2011: Almeyda
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Matías Almeyda, born on 21 December 1973 in Azul, Argentina. He was nicknamed "El Pelado" (The Bald) at the time when he played in River Plate, for having a very short hair. However, his hair grew, but his nickname remained. According to his mother, he was a nice kid, but even he has grown up, he always asks to take his breakfast in bed. During FIFA World Cup 1990, he painted his blue Fiat white stripes as his Argentina National Team jersey, and always celebrate Argentina victories by dancing the malambo (popular Argentina dance executed exclusively by men) in the center of his city.

Almeyda has been grown up in a modest family. In the beginning, he prefers to play as a striker, but he become a midfielder, and start playing football in River Plate. He started to play professionally in season 1991-92 when he made his debut in the first team. He was once disappointed in the beginning of his career in River Plate and thought about to quit playing football, but his family has supported him to not give up. He won three Argentine League with his club in 1993, 1994, 1996, and Coppa Libertadores in 1996.

He moved to Sevilla FC, Spain in 1997, for a record fee for a player from his country, which was $9 million. Almeyda appeared regularly in his first and only season with the Andalusians, but his team suffered La Liga relegation. He was once confessed in his frustration that if he could turn the clock back, he would not leave Azul, as he felt the world of football is a fake world, and everything is part of business.

Almeyda with SS Lazio

In the summer of 1997, Almeyda bought by Lazio, and made his debut in Serie A at the Olimpico Stadium on 31 August 1997 (Lazio- Napoli 2-0). In his first season, Lazio came in 7th place in Serie A after most of the league has fought for the title. However, Lazio crowned as a champion of Coppa Italia 1997-98 by throwing AC Milan 3-1 in the final.

His style of playing in midfield was tireless, relentless in tackling, involved in stealing balls, and pressing opponents continuously and aggressively, beside assisting Lazio defense. Hard, but fair, that always been praised by Lazio supporters. Among Lazio fans he would not be forgotten of his splendid goal against Parma’s Gianluigi Buffon in season 1999-2000:

Almeyda Splendid Goal video link

In the late 90’s, Almeyda became the master of Lazio midfield. This what he felt about his spells in Lazio "In Rome I found my football world, people immediately understood the way I play, and I really feel like I was at home. I was shown an immense affection, the memory I have of those moments are all above any episode in my career. "

With Lazio, where he played for 3 seasons, he won 6 titles:

- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1998–99
- UEFA Super Cup: 1999
- Italian League (Scudetto): 1999–2000
- Italian Cup: 1997–98,
- Italian Cup: 1999–2000
- Italian Super Cup: 1998

He also has crowned as Italian League Best Player for 1998–99 season.

He was married with ex TV reporter, Luciana, with whom he has a daughter, Sofia. Out of his football activities Almeyda actively involved in a charity institution called "La Casa del Niño" (Child's Home) and every year-end, he distributes toys, medicines, and gifts for the children of that institution.

During an interview with Corriere dello Sport last year (he was 36 years old), Almeyda stated that: “If Lazio need a midfielder, he would happily ready to play, even for free.”
Almeyda with National Team

Totally, he played 35 games for the Argentine national team, his debut coming in April 1996. Shortly after his debut, he helped the Olympic side win silver at the Summer Olympics 1996 in Atlanta.

Having represented Argentina during nearly one full decade, Almeyda appeared with the national team in two World Cups. In 1998, playing all five matches as a starter, and Argentina reached the quarterfinals. In 2002, one group stage appearance, as his national team exited after the first three games.

On 28 June 2011, he appointed as the new manager of River Plate.

Good Luck Almeyda !!

(Ali Alkatiri)

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