Juan Roman Riquelme retires

This story is about two days old, but my admiration for this man goes back much deeper than that. He belongs to a rare breed, technically gifted midfielders without speed. And with the retirement of “Romy” as Riquelme is called, the best among that rare breed is gone.

Many of you must be aware of the man’s career path. For those who do not , here is a quick recap –Argentinos Juniors-Boca-Barcelona-Villareal.

Riquelme has always performed well under conditions where he is allowed freedom to the play the way he wants and where he is surrounded by people from the place he calls home. It is precisely for this reason that he flourished at Boca and Villareal and was a bit of a misfit at Barcelona. He was brought to the Nou Camp with high expectations, and he did not adjust very fast to the new surroundings, which led to his exit from there. One must also remember that it was his exit which enabled the entry of a certain Ronaldinho from Paris St Germain.

Riquelme is probably best described as a tactical playmaker, possessing immense vision. He does not run past defenders,he splits them with his precise passing. He sees opportunities where others do not, which is the hallmark of a great player.

Because of the way he is, Riquelme either played a prominent role in the Argentinian squad ( 2006) or he doesn’t play at all (2002). He has also been accused of underperforming on big occasions. Fans will remember his missed penalty against Arsenal at El Madrigal in last year’s Champions League semifinal. That kick if convereted could have sent the Yellow Submarines into the final.

Riquelme has cited family reasons for his retirement but he will continue to play for Villareal. Best of luck, Juan and may you continue to weave your magic.

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