Inspirational midfield enforcer Javier Mascherano has accepted Diego Maradona’s offer to become the new captain of Argentina.
It is a huge honour for the player who initially said he did not feel ready for the role, but after Maradona himself flew to England and met the player in person he has been persuaded.
Maradona said on Monday night “I’ve convinced him. I explained to him what I thought about him and told him what I thought he could give the team.”
It’s hard to believe just two years ago Mascherano couldn’t get in the West Ham team, now he’s captain of one of the biggest countries in world football and arguably the best defensive midfielder around.
Mascherano follows in a long list of current Liverpool players to either currently skipper their country or previously have done so; Steven Gerrard (England), Robbie Keane (Ireland), Yossi Benayoun (Israel) Sami Hyypia (Finland), Martin Skrtel (Slovakia), Lucas Leiva (Brazil U20’s) and Xabi Alonso (Spain; in Euro 2008 group match). Add to that players who’ve captained club sides; Dirk Kuyt (Feyenoord), Fernando Torres (Atletico), Keane (Spurs), and other strong personalities in the squad like Pepe Reina and Daniel Agger.
Pretty impressive, and shows the strength of the squad and importance Rafa Benitez places on the right mentality, something we’ve heard in many interviews with the gaffer.
These quotes from chief scout Eduardo Macia in an interview this summer revealed the importance of the right character and mentality:
“The mentality is the most important thing. There are probably a million players with quality in the world. That’s not enough. We don’t want someone who is fantastic in September and October. We want someone who is fantastic all year round. If you want to be a successful team you need players who can still be at their best when it comes to the end of the season and the big games arrive almost every few days.”
“It’s not just a matter of quality. You can improve a player’s fitness, technique, and make them tactically better. What you can’t do is give them the mentality. You can be a fantastic player at a lower level team but if you want to come here then you’ve got to be a winner.”
Congrats to Javier, and good luck.