Cesar Luis MENOTTI: “SAMPAOLI accepted the rules of the game”


In a recent interview, World Cup winning coach Cesar Luis MENOTTI gave his thoughts on the 1978 FIFA World Cup, the Argentina National Team and Jorge SAMPAOLI.

A man of structure and a man who knows how to win, legendary figured in Argentine football Cesar Luis MENOTTI stated that winning the World Cup would be useless if there’s no structure afterwards. Here’s what he had to say:

“After the 1974 World Cup ended, everyone left. There were no players left. BRINDISI, PERFUMO, BABINGTON, BIANCHI. There were no players. They take me to Argentina after I won the title with Huracan in 1973. They usually pick the ones that win the titles.

“We started from there. We started a national team from the interior of the country. Some great players came from there. GALVAN, VALENCIA, PASSARELLA that came and was not yet a starter at River. LUQUE played in Paraná. BUFALO (Funes) was at Unión. It was a good team.

“I had three goalkeepers. In the first tour, GATTI was going to start. In the second, it was going to be FILLOL. FILLOL wanted to be in both and I told him, ‘As of this moment, you are my fourth goalkeeper.

“GATTI starts and he gets injured and all of a sudden the fourth goalkeeper comes in and quickly become the starter. I was convinced we were going to play the final. I started to look at the fixture and I said, “That’s it, we’re playing the Dutch. That was an incredible side.”

Argentina Netherlands 1978
Argentina vs. Netherlands in the final of the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

Cesar Luis MENOTTI on Rinus MICHELS and the Netherlands:

“They had Rinus MICHELS who was a very studious coach when it came to the South American game. He knew it was impossible to compete against a football that was technically superior based on strength alone. He tried to find a balance.

“MICHELS looked to find both good players and a high press. You die in there on the pitch and you don’t realize, I didn’t realize it. I had ARDILES playing every match and he did so with a fracture. The doctor would inject him and the at halftime do it again.”

Cesar Luis MENOTTI on ARDILES and winning the World Cup:

“ARDILES would play like that and then he could not practice. In the final we could not sub him during extra time, you had to do it before. The team doctor says to me, ‘take out ARDILES’. I wanted to hit him right then. I reacted because he was limping and brought in LARROSA.

“What was emotional was the end. We were all in the dressing room, with our heads down, filled with blood. Everyone was beat up… it was a war on that pitch. There was this sadness and HOLGUIN comes up and says to me, ‘What now?’

“I came to realize that there is no point to playing different football if there is no solid structures in place. There was joy, we were the champions, the cup stays there and football went into a deculturization and went into a dark place-business.”

Osvaldo Ardiles 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina
Osvaldo Ardiles with the ball for Argentina during the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

Cesar Luis MENOTTI on Julio GRONDONA and Argentina:

“I believe that until 1990, GRONDONA respected how the national team was run. After that, I believe he forgot about the national team and became a figure within FIFA. Won the World Cups in 78 and 86, runner-up in 90., youth champ in 79 and MARADONA in all his glory. All that made him the owner of CONMEBOL and then HAVELANGE dies.

“Being rebelliousness and discontent of the people came about because of the deculturization of football. There’s been a cultural debacle at the clubs and in the stands. They sell off players, they sell the national team to whomever. It became a business.

So when Argentina do not win the World Cup, they bring out everything from their clubs. The going to pitch, the barrabravas… the people are in bad shape. They are against football. Even if we won the World Cup, we celebrate but nothing changes.

“Let’s say we win the World Cup in Russia, but the presidents don’t change their structure and they don’t create a project. The World Cup is worthless. We’ll be happy for 30 days, but then reality sets back in. There’s no structure, visiting fans can’t go to matches.”

Cesar Luis MENOTTI on Jorge SAMPAOLI:

“We’re at an important stage. Things will not get better if Argentina win the World Cup. Things will recover if there is a project and a leader that thinks. You have to believe in them because they are just starting. (SAMPAOLI) doesn’t have the obligation of having enough time.

“SAMPAOLI accepted the rules of the game. But I want to know what happens afterwards with Argentine football.”

A big thank you to Juan G. Arango for the translation!


  1. It doesn’t matter if Argentina wins the World cup or not Sampaoli will quit. If we don’t win it he will either be forced out or he will resign. If we win he will still quit as he won’t be able to resist offers from European team. Moreover after winning the WC there is nothing more to win with the national team. Hopefully we will win against all the odds this time.

    • @Sulav : AFA already confirmed that sampaoli is going to stay till 2022.

      I believe this is a good news as we want a coach for long term. This constant change of coaches has not done any good.

  2. All this is true and at the same time excuses to fail. At the end of the day it is the team. The team of coaches and players. The president is not going to go and play. In 2006 Italy won the WC amidst total crisis of match fixing, corruption, Juve getting relegated – absolute chaos. However they players played for their pride.

    Higuain, Messi, Palacio lost the WC. Not the president. Doesn’t matter once you are there.

    • Yes, Italy did win the world cup in 2006, but where is the Italian national team today? World Cup group stage exit in 2010, World Cup group stage exit in 2014 and most recently failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Nobody is making an excuse for failure. If you’re a teacher, and your classroom lack resources like books, pencils, desks, computers etc. your students would have a hard time succeeding, and even if several of your students do go on to pass their exams, the long term of your classroom educational program would be in serious jeopardy if nothing changes.

      Argentina football have been in poor state for years now and nothing seems to be improving. Other nations work hard to put together a working football federation and it paid off for them while Argentina is trying to get ahead of the line with a system that is so outdated going back all the way to the 1970’s.

      I have been watching some Argentina local games recently and the teams are so disconnected. All the local clubs are doing their own thing, barely any good sequence of beautiful consistent passing and build up play. There is no playing philosophy in local Argentinean football. And you wonder why Argentina haven’t produce any world class midfielder in a long time, just look at the local teams, no way any world class midfielder will be coming through those system and football clubs any time soon. In Argentina, you only will find good to decent attacking players and most of them are still very technically poor.

      Winning the world cup wont fix Argentina deficiencies. Yes Messi and co will be world cup winners, but it will be the same problems left in Argentinean football after the 30 days world cup winning celebration honeymoon is over. I always wonder if you guys never worry about the lack of quality midfielders coming out of Argentina, and the lack of quality midfielders representing the Argentina national team in some of world football biggest clubs.

      • “In Argentina, you only will find good to decent attacking players and most of them are still very technically poor”.

        Well, how about Pavon and Meza, anything but technically poor, as a matter of fact both have great technique. Also, Lo Celso until very recently played for Rosario Central, he is not bad at all.

        Jorge Sampaoli on Independiente: “The team that I like most in Argentine football is Independiente. They always think of attacking, seeking the opponent’s goal and are well armed”.

        Yes, we may not have another Aimar or Riquelme coming out of the local league and the teams may not be like Boca in the 90’s but as always you are overly negative about the Argentine Primera. In fact Argentine clubs are consistently amongst the best in South America.

        • Of course South American clubs are not on the same level tactically as European but is there any problem to our players adapt quickly to the tactics. No. That’s coming very quickly. Tagliafico is starter since beginnings in Ajax (so where’s the problem). Ascacibar the same in supertactical German league. While Kidulthood say as if it took years for our local players to adapt in Europe. Completely untrue. Look for cases like Tagliafico, Ascacibar, Acuna, Lo Celso, Cervi and more. Indeed, players like Acuna, Lo Celso, Meza, Pavon, Bustos, Tagliafico (from local league or not long ago there), didn’t looked disconnected in friendlies. In fact – in their best matches looked better than Europeans, in their worst – at least didn’t looked more disconnected than our famous oldies from Europe.

          And they have one advantage: the new players gives you more heart. It was evident.

          What about the statement: “In Argentina, you only will find good to decent attacking players and most of them are still very technically poor”.

          it’s pure nonsense. Look at our new players that came to Europe after WC 2014: Dybala, Lanzini, Lo Celso, J.Correa, Paredes, Ocampos, Acuna, De Paul… How they are poor technically. I could say some our players still have problems to emerge in Europe but the last thing I may say is that they are poor technically.

      • Indeed. In an interview Tagliafico stated his surprise about the Ajax philosophy starting in the youth squads age 7 up to the first team. In Argentina he said it was all physical and hardly tactics.

        Ajax delivered many talents over the past 50 years and continues to do so with De Ligt being the next big player.

        Tagliafico said he learned a lot since his arrival.

      • “Yes, Italy did win the world cup in 2006, but where is the Italian national team today? ”

        If a WC18 gold would mean 3 following WCs with lousy results, I’ll take it any day of the week. Hell, even if it meant Arg missing 3 WCs as the price for a gold would be a good choice. Short term gold is superior to long term structure.

    • @Duttaroy OR you could say Messi and Co. took us to finals even with mediocre team. Stop blaming everything on players and be a radical fan. Look at Germany. How many times did they fail before they won world cup? Every tournament they are favorite then go on to lose in QF or SF or Final. We can still do it in this world cup but we need more passionate fans. Remember 7-1 brazil thrasing by Germany. Still Brazil fans seems more excited by the world cup than argentina fans.

      • @arg2018 I am not blaming the players. All I am saying is at the end of the day its the players on the field. People win against all odds. Its not always you get a strong supporting systems. If any of them put the ball in 2014, they are part of history, no matter who the president is and whatever the system is. The moment was in their hands and they were the master of that moment.

        In general I don’t like the negative and escapist attitude of finding reasons for failure even before you have started.

  3. It is so political. Germany and Spain are less corrupt than Argentina so their football project reflects that reality. Argentina winning world cup would lessen the pain or give some joy to daily hardworking Argentinians but nothing more than that. To compete with world, Argentina needs to be politically stable and less corrupt.

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