- Alejandro Sabella
Football player infobox
playername = Alejandro Sabella
fullname = Alejandro Javier Sabella
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1954|11|5
position = Midfielder
years = 1974-1978
clubs = River Plate
Ferro Carril Oeste
caps(goals) = ? (?)
nationalyears = 1983
nationalteam = Argentina
nationalcaps(goals) = 4 (0)
pcupdate = 1 September 2007
Alejandro (Alex) Sabella (born
Buenos Aires, 5 November 1954) is a former Argentine football player.
Sabella rose through the junior divisions of River Plate in the early 1970s, when his position, and the number 10 jersey, were owned by
Norberto Alonso. His style reflected Alonso's, with emphasis on individual technique and short passes. In 1975, River Plate achieved its first title after a 18-year drought, and Alonso became the fans' undisputed hero. Sabella felt his talents were not exploited properly, but in 1976he got his break when Alonso was transferred to Olympique Marseille.
Angel Labrunaand fans were not satisfied with Sabella's perceived individualism and slowness, and bought a few players in the transfers market. When Alonso returned to River Plate, Sabella was again relegated to the bench.
Move to England
English club Sheffield United had tried to sign the teenage
Diego Maradonafrom Argentinos Juniors, which did not accept the paltry £180,000 United were offering. So United turned to Sabella, and they signed him for £160,000 on July 19, 1978. He made his debut for the Bladesagainst Leyton Orient on 19 August 1978.
He played for United until
1980, but unfortunately his superb ball control resulted in fewer goals than were expected, just 8 League goals from 76 appearances. After relegation to the Third Division, manager Harry Haslamagreed a fee of £600,000 with Second Division club Sunderland, however, Sabella had ambitions to play in the First Division and refused to go. His final appearance for United came with a goal in the County Cup (a regional competition between South Yorkshireteams) Final victory over Sheffield Wednesdayon May 8, 1980.
During the close season he was finally sold to Leeds United for £400,000. He played for Leeds without much success between 1978-80.
Return to Argentina
1981he started looking for an Argentine club, and was sold to Estudiantes de La Plata. Under coach Carlos Bilardo, the team reached the semi-finals of the 1982Nacional tournament (Sabella was injured in the first semi-final match against Quilmes) and then, together with Marcelo Trobbiani, José Daniel Ponce, and Miguel Angel Russo, made up the solid midfield of the Estudiantes team that went on to win two back-to-back championship titles.
When Bilardo was put in charge of the
Argentina National Football Team, Sabella competed for his place with veterans Alonso and Bochini, and younger players like Carlos Tapia and Jorge Burruchaga; an even larger shadow was cast by the king of 1980s play-makers, Diego Maradona. All in all, Sabella played four times for the national team, playing in the Copa América 1983but not making the cut for the 1986 World Cup.
His nicknames were "el mago" (the magician) and "pachorra" (sloth) because of his perceived slowness during play (though he could become a fast dribbler and passer given the right situation).
After retirement, Sabella became a coach, but has worked mostly as field assistant for
Daniel Passarella. The duo coached the Argentina national team, Italian side Parma AC, the Uruguay national football team, Mexican Monterrey, and Brazilian Corinthians. In 2006, they were hired back by River Plate, which finished in third place in the "Apertura" tournament.
* [http://www.leedsfans.org.uk/leeds/players/347.html Leeds United profile]
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