The combination of footwork and speed captivated the spectators, knocking out the defender in a jiffy Argentina’s attacking midfielder and winger could be distinguished in this way for ages. From Diego Maradona to Juan Roman Riquelme or Lionel Messi to Pablo Aymar, Ariel Ortega or The Maria-Pastore-Lavezzi — this is true of everyone.
Maxi Rodriguez wasn’t exactly anyone. This wing, in contrast to the Chircena Argentine artistic touch, is the epitome of hard work. But would it be right to call Maxi just a winger? Maxi used to make sure that the green grass under the feet of footballers like Messi-Di Maria could turn into a brilliant canvas, attack or midfield. For whatever reason, whether it’s the club or the national team, Maxi Rodriguez has stayed behind the scenes. Whether it’s for the national team Messi-Di Maria or Aguero-Riquelme, or for the club Fernando Torres, Simao Sabrosa, Jose Antonio Reyes.
That Maxi Rodriguez retired yesterday. Sajal said through social media that he has nothing new to give to football in his 40th year of life. Now is the time to move on. The departure of Maxi, who has been quietly doing his job behind the scenes for the rest of his life, was like his career. In silence, in secrecy.
However, his coaches understood the value of this man who was a silent worker in football. Take the case of Argentina coach Jose Pekerman in the 2006 World Cup. In the eyes of many, the Argentine played the most beautiful football in the 21st century. Peckerman has regularly played Rodriguez alongside Messi-Riquelme in the World Cup — whether as a box-to-box midfielder, as an attacking midfielder or as a winger. He has paid the price of the coach’s trust well. Who can forget that unique goal against Mexico in the second round!
Messi-Aymar-Riquelme or Saviola’s magic was not working that day. The match was the day to come in front of someone behind the scenes. If not, how did Maxi reach the right corner of the opponent’s D-box by running half the field from the right back position at that time? From the other wing, Argentine captain Juan Pablo Sorin’s address floating in the air that Maxi’s left foot would be Mexico’s net after a fraction of a second, was not even understood by Mexican six-foot-tall goalkeeper Osvaldo Sanchez.
After the defeat, Sanchez was seen annoyed and poisoned. Defend yourself? Probably not, even the best defender in the world is not supposed to have a curved shot like that shot. Maybe he was blaming Maxi, seeing that he chose the moment against Sanchez to become the national star by impressing Messi-Riquelme! Or who knows, maybe Sanchez was angry at Bidhata himself — why he wasn’t made a few inches taller, then the ball doesn’t get caught in the net anymore!
Rafael Benitez also understood the value of Maxi. Steven Gerrard, the Fernando Torres, brought Maxi free of charge from Atletico as the Liverpool coach’s winger so that they could spread their talents properly. That’s another story. Maxi couldn’t speak English that way without a broken ‘yes’, ‘no’. Benitez, meanwhile, made it clear that in order to stay in Liverpool’s dressing room, one must speak the same language and build a strong bond between oneself.
The timing at Liverpool was not exactly in his favor. And Maxi’s fault was small. In his two-and-a-half year Liverpool career, three coaches have seen a change of ownership. Javier Macherano, a Spanish-speaking compatriot, and Torres, a former Atletico teammate, relied on Torres, the two men to leave the club within a year of Maxi’s arrival.