His fifteen year career took in ten titles: four Argentine leagues, one Copa Brasil, one French Cup, one Copa Libertadores, one Supercopa Sudamericana, one Panamerican Games title, and one Youth World Cup. He was part of the most successful River Plate team of all time, and played for ten clubs in six different countries. He captained his country in the 2006 World Cup, and more importantly he kept the flag for stupid 1980s rockstar hair flying in Argentine football. On Tuesday, Juan Pablo Sorín announced his retirement from professional football.
After coming through the youth ranks at Argentinos Juniors and making his debut for their first team in 1994, Sorín moved to Juventus in 1995, where he played just two matches. In 1996, though, he moved to River Plate, and everything got better. A key part of Ramón Díaz’s legendary team which claimed the club’s second ever Copa Libertadores in 1996, he also won four Argentine titles (the 1996 Apertura, 1997 Clausura, and 1997 and 1999 Aperturas) as well as the 1997 Supercopa.
In 2000 he was sold to this year’s Copa Libertadores runners-up Cruzeiro, where although he only played 29 matches he became a fan favourite in spite of being an Argentine in Brazil. An injury-hit spell at Lazio was followed by a personally successful half-season at Barcelona, before he moved on again to spend the 2003-2004 season with Paris Saint-Germain. In the French capital he won the French Cup, before a second brief spell with Cruzeiro was ended by his transfer to Villarreal in Spain. Whilst he was there, inspired by his countryman Juan Román Riquelme, the small club reached the semi-final of the 2006 European Cup, only coming unstuck against eventual runners-up Arsenal.
Captaining Argentina during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he was the man who hit the high cross-field pass from which Maxi Rodríguez scored that volley against Mexico in the second round. He also reminded everyone of the true traditions of the attacking full back by getting caught offside roughly 25 times a match. After that World Cup, in spite of reported interest from the English Premier League and others in Europe, he moved to Hamburg in Germany, where injuries started to take their toll and he played just twenty-four times in two seasons to 2008. After that, he moved back to Cruzeiro in August last year, but didn’t manage to play one match.
In total he played 76 times for Argentina, scoring eleven goals – almost exactly his figures during his three year spell at River Plate (twelve goals in 78 matches).
‘[I’m looking back on] fifteen years of my career. It’s difficult to speak because they were so many years, but I’m going to stop with football,’ he told the press in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday. ‘I had a very good career, I always tried to give my best, to leave myself on the pitch.’ The injuries, eventually, got the better of him. ‘I worked hard. I fell down, I got back up, and I overcame the most serious one, which was my knee [at Hamburg]. The recent muscular problems weren’t so serious, but I didn’t have the regularity [of playing and training] that I wanted… my career was very quick, but I believe the right moment has come to stop. It’s a happy moment in my life because I’m becoming a father,’ the author (together with his wife) of children’s book Grandes Chicos ended.
Sorín won’t be reading this, but what the hell: he’s been one of my favourite players in world football in the last decade and a half, and neither the hair nor the football of the selección have been quite the same without him since his last appearance against Germany in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final.
Juampi, ¡feliz jubilación!