David Trezeguet’s return to River Plate ranks as the greatest comeback in a season full of them
It has been a season of ageing stars showing the world that they are not quite finished. From Thierry Henry’s rapturously received return at Arsenal, to Paul Scholes coming out of retirement to help Manchester United get excruciatingly close to yet another league title.
However this weekend one celebrated veteran has outdone all the others, winning a title as well as the eternal gratitude of his club’s passionate fans.
The man in question is David Trezeguet – raised in Argentina but a World Cup winner with France – who, eschewing the riches on offer in China or the Middle East, signed for Buenos Aires side River Plate in January.
In a footballing age that many feel is tainted by the inordinate sums of money on offer to players, there is something refreshing about Trezeguet choosing to join the club he supported as a boy, outwardly motivated only by the desire to return them to their former glory.
The River Plate he joined this year is very different to the club he left South America for to join Monaco, aged just 17. Then they were unbeaten league champions with Hernan Crespo, Ariel Ortega and Matias Almeyda in the side – in January this year they were a league below, after last year’s historic relegation, and locked in a scrap for promotion with Rosario Central and Instituto.
Trezeguet’s arrival made an immediate impact, his 11 goals in the second half of the season had already helped to put the club within touching distance of a return to the top division, but with three teams vying for two automatic promotion spots going into the last round of fixtures, nothing was certain.
A scoreless first half did nothing to improve the nervous atmosphere at El Monumental but fortunately Trezeguet was on hand, breaking a determined Almirante Brown resistance with a left-footed volley three minutes into the second half.
Every good story needs an extra element of drama and the man affectionately known as Trezegol obligingly and unwittingly provided it, hitting a promotion-sealing penalty far too close to the opposition keeper to keep the result in doubt for a little bit longer.
However in true Hollywood style, the Frenchman popped up two minutes from time to score from close-range and send his club back into the Primera, to the understandable delight of the assembled River faithful.
Given the striker’s stellar career, which includes the winning goal in Euro 2000, the 1998 World Cup triumph and countless other domestic titles in France and Italy – even another promotion campaign following Juventus’ demotion to Serie B – this half-season at River Plate may rank fairly low on his prodigious list of achievements, but judging from the tears he shed following the game it is still a success that means a lot to him.
It would of course be wrong to credit Trezeguet with single-handedly guiding River back to glory and much praise must go to club stalwart Matias Almeyda in his first season as a manager.
His mixing of seasoned pros like Fernando Cavenaghi, Alejandro Dominguez and Leonardo Ponzio with raw but exciting talents like Lucas Ocampos and Ezequiel Cirigliano paid off, and restored Los Millonarios to first division football at the first attempt.
However every story needs a hero and Trezeguet has taken on the role superbly, proving wrong any doubters about his fitness along the way, and while his compatriots were coming unstuck in Donetsk, he was busy receiving the adulation of a passionate home crowd – ensuring at least one Frenchman had an enjoyable night and cementing his place in the proud club’s history.Tagged in: David Trezeguet, football, River Plate
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