Pablo Aimar

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Pablo Aimar
Match legends 2017 CC (4).jpg
Aimar in 2017
Personal information
Full namePablo César Aimar Giordano
Date of birth (1979-11-03) 3 November 1979 (age 39)
Place of birth Río Cuarto, Argentina
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Argentina U17 (head coach)
Youth career
1985–1993 Estudiantes Río Cuarto
1993–1997 River Plate
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1996–2000 River Plate 82 (21)
2001–2006 Valencia 162 (27)
2006–2008 Zaragoza 53 (5)
2008–2013 Benfica 107 (12)
2013–2014 Johor Darul Ta'zim 8 (2)
2015 River Plate 1 (0)
2018 Estudiantes Río Cuarto 0 (0)
Total413(67)
National team
1995 Argentina U17 6 (2)
1997 Argentina U20 7 (1)
1999–2009 Argentina 52 (8)
Teams managed
2017– Argentina U17
2018– Argentina (assistant)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Pablo César Aimar Giordano (Spanish pronunciation:  [ˈpaβlo aiˈmaɾ] ; born 3 November 1979) is a retired Argentine professional footballer and current coach of the Argentina national under-17 football team.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

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An attacking midfielder, after starting his senior career at River Plate in 1996, he amassed La Liga totals of 215 games and 32 goals over eight seasons with Valencia and Real Zaragoza between 2001 and 2008, before spending five years in Portugal with Benfica, winning nine major titles between the three teams.

Club Atlético River Plate Argentine association football club

Club Atlético River Plate is an Argentine professional sports club based in the Núñez neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and named after the British English name for the city's estuary, Río de la Plata. Although many sports are practiced at the club, River is best known for its professional football team, which has won Argentina's Primera División championship a record of 36 times, being its latest title the 2014 Final. Domestic achievements also include 11 National cups, with the 2017 Supercopa Argentina as the most recent. Those achievements place River Plate as the most winning team of domestic competitions with 47 titles won in the top division. In Second Division, the club has won two titles, in 1908 and 2011–12.

The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known as La Liga, is the men's top professional football division of the Spanish football league system. Administered by the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional, also known as the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), La Liga is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams at the end of each season relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top three teams in that division.

Valencia CF Spanish association football club

Valencia Club de Fútbol, commonly referred to as Valencia CF or simply Valencia, is a Spanish football club based in Valencia. They play in La Liga. Valencia have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. They also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 and German club Bayern Munich on penalties after a 1–1 draw in 2001. Valencia were also members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs and since its end has been part of the original members of the European Club Association. In total, Valencia have reached seven major European finals, winning four of them.

Aimar earned 52 caps for the Argentina national team over ten years, representing the nation in two FIFA World Cups and two Copa América tournaments, as well as a FIFA Confederations Cup. He reached the final of the 2005 Confederations Cup and the 2007 Copa América with the Argentine national side.

Cap (sport) sports game

In sport, a cap is a metaphorical term for a player's appearance in a game at international level. The term dates from the practice in the United Kingdom of awarding a cap to every player in an international match of association football. In the early days of football, the concept of each team wearing a set of matching shirts had not been universally adopted, so each side would distinguish itself from the other by wearing a specific sort of cap.

Argentina national football team Mens national association football team representing Argentina

The Argentina national football team represents Argentina in football. Argentina's home stadium is Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti in Buenos Aires.

FIFA World Cup association football competition for mens national teams

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, which won its second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Playing career

Club career

River Plate

Born in Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Aimar's football career begun in earnest when he was offered the chance to play for Estudiantes de Río Cuarto by youth coach Alfie Mercado. [1] He trained with the club's academy three times a week and it was there that he was spotted by River Plate who offered the chance to join their own academy. [1] Aimar's father initially prevented him from joining River as he felt he was too young to be playing football, but relented after manager Daniel Passarella personally asked him to allow his son to play. [1] Having turned down the opportunity to attend medical school to pursue a career in football, Aimar made his debut for River on 11 August 1996 against Colón. [2] [3] His first goal for the club came on 20 February 1998 against Rosario Central. [2] Aimar lifted five titles with River between 1996 and 2000, scoring 21 goals and recording 28 assists in 82 league appearances for the club, with his final appearance coming on 17 December 2000 in a 3–2 loss to Lanús. [1] [2]

Río Cuarto, Córdoba City in Córdoba, Argentina

Río Cuarto is a city in the province of Córdoba, Argentina. Located in the south of the province, it has about 157,000 inhabitants and is an important commercial and agricultural hub.

Asociación Atlética Estudiantes is a sports club located in the city of Río Cuarto, Córdoba Province (Argentina). Although many sports are practised at the club, it is mostly known for its football team, which currently plays in the Torneo Argentino B, the regionalised 4th level of the Argentine football league system.

Daniel Passarella Argentine association football player

Daniel Alberto Passarella is an Argentine retired footballer who played as a centre back, and former manager of the Argentina and Uruguay national football teams. He was captain of the Argentina team that won the 1978 World Cup. He was president of the River Plate sports club for 4 years after winning the elections by a very close margin in December 2009.

Valencia

In January 2001, Spanish La Liga side Valencia signed Aimar from River for a club-record fee of 24 million (£13 million). [1] [4] He made his debut for the club the following month against Manchester United and drew praise from three-time Ballon d'Or winner Johan Cruyff for his performance after the match. [1] The following weekend he scored on his La Liga debut, netting in a 2–0 away win over Las Palmas. [5] Aimar immediately became a key figure in Valencia's midfield under Rafael Benítez and helped the club reach the 2001 UEFA Champions League final, where they lost to Bayern Munich on penalties. [4]

Euro European currency

The euro is the official currency of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area, and counts about 343 million citizens as of 2019. The euro is the second largest and second most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar. The euro is divided into 100 cents.

Pound sterling official currency of the United Kingdom and other territories

The pound sterling, commonly known as the pound and less commonly referred to as sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. A number of nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the pound.

Manchester United F.C. Association football club

Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Nicknamed "the Red Devils", the club was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to its current stadium, Old Trafford, in 1910.

In the season which followed, Aimar appeared in 33 league games and scored 4 goals as Valencia were crowned 2001–02 La Liga champions for the first time in 31 years, ending as the club's third-highest goalscorer across all competitions for the season. [1] [4] The season thereafter, Aimar jointly topped the Champions League assists table alongside Rui Costa of Milan with five assists to his name, this despite Valencia being eliminated at the quarter-final stage. The club endured further disappointment by ending the league season in fifth place. [1]

The 2001–02 La Liga season, the 71st since its establishment, started on 25 August 2001 and finished on 11 May 2002.

Rui Costa Portuguese footballer

Rui Manuel César CostaOIH is a retired Portuguese professional footballer.

A.C. Milan italian association football club based in the city of Milan founded in 1899

Associazione Calcio Milan, commonly referred to as A.C. Milan or simply Milan, is a professional football club in Milan, Italy, founded in 1899. The club has spent its entire history, with the exception of the 1980–81 and 1982–83 seasons, in the top flight of Italian football, known as Serie A since 1929–30.

"Pablo is the only current footballer I'd pay to watch. He’s been the best player in Argentina over the last couple of years and is even more talented than Riquelme or Saviola.

Diego Maradona in a 2003 interview with World Soccer. [6]

The club's failures were soon forgotten, however, as Valencia completed a league and UEFA Cup double the following season. [4] Despite making more than 30 appearances for the season and playing an influential role in the club's UEFA Cup triumph, Aimar was sidelined for large parts of the season in what was to set an injury-plagued tone to his career. [7]

Following a breakdown between Benítez and Valencia's sporting director Jesús García Pitarch, the former left his position at the club and was replaced by Italian manager Claudio Ranieri for the 2004–05 season. A combination of injury concerns and tactical changes from the manager saw Aimar struggle under Ranieri and found himself being as employed as a substitute more frequently than before. [1] [4] The Italian departed the club in February and was replaced by Antonio López, who in turn was replaced by Quique Sánchez Flores for the following season. [1] With Valencia in decline, Aimar decided to leave the club at the end of the 2005–06 season having amassed over 200 appearances for the club over the course of five-and-a-half seasons.

Zaragoza

In the summer of 2006, Aimar joined fellow top flight club Real Zaragoza on a four-year deal for a reported fee of €11 million, with the club describing the deal as the most important signing in the club's history. [8] At Zaragoza, he was reunited with compatriot and former Valencia teammate Roberto Ayala, who himself had joined the club earlier in the month. [9] Aimar made his league debut on 27 August in a 2–3 away loss against Deportivo de La Coruña and went on to make 32 appearances across all competitions, scoring five goals and helping the club to a sixth place finish in the league. [1] The following season was a disastrous one for Aimar and Zaragoza as the club, fraught with poor performances and financial mismanagement were relegated from La Liga. [10] Zaragoza's relegation saw Aimar bring an end to his time in Aragon, having made 57 appearances during his two-season stay with the club. During his stint with Zaragoza, he obtained dual-Spanish nationality, having lived in the country since 2001. [11]

Benfica

Aimar playing for Benfica in 2012 Zenit-Benfica2012 (8).jpg
Aimar playing for Benfica in 2012

On 17 July 2008, Aimar signed a four-year contract with Portuguese side Benfica for a fee of €6.5 million. [12] After struggling with injuries initially, he finished the campaign with a string of strong performances and was able to add a Taça da Liga title to his name. [1] [13]

In the 2009–10 season, Aimar was reunited with former River Plate teammate Javier Saviola, who was let go by Real Madrid following his own injury struggles. [13] The two combined as double trequartista to support striker Óscar Cardozo alongside fellow Argentine Ángel Di María on the wing. [14] The quartet formed the Primeira Liga's most dangerous attack, with Benfica scoring 78 goals on their way to a league and cup double. [1]

"I have never played with another player who knows where I'm going to be or just lifts his head knowing where I'm going to."

Javier Saviola on his playing relationship with Aimar. [15]

Aimar had become a fan favourite at the Estádio da Luz but injuries continued to plague him, and his game time reduced in the coming seasons. In spite of this, he helped the club to its third and fourth consecutive Taça da Liga titles. [1] On 6 June 2013, after 179 official appearances, 17 goals and 34 assists, Aimar announced he was leaving Benfica and thanked the club for "five wonderful years". [1] [16]

Johor Darul Ta'zim

On 7 August 2013, Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, the president of Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim, confirmed that Aimar had signed a two-year contract with the team. [17] Upon arrival, he became the highest paid player ever to feature in the Malaysia Super League. [18] He made his debut in the league six months after signing, in a 2–0 win against Perak FA. [19] Prior to making his debut, Aimar had previously played at the Larkin Stadium, home of Johor, before with Argentina in the 1997 Youth World Cup. [19] He ultimately made 8 appearances for the club and scored two goals before a spate of injuries resulted in him being released on 21 April 2014. [20] Aimar did earn a champions medal for his time with JDT, though, as the club went on to lift the Super League title at the end of the season.

Return to River Plate

On 5 January 2015, Aimar returned to River Plate for the club's pre-season training, stating that he would sign with the club only if he could deal with the physical demand after having undergone surgeries to his heel and not having played since leaving Johor Darul in April 2014. [21] On 31 May, he played as substitute in a home win against Rosario Central in the Primera División. [22] Aimar announced his retirement on 14 July 2015 after River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo informed him that he was not included in the club's squad for the semi-final stage of the Copa Libertadores. Gallardo said Aimar was "suffering" and had struggled with injuries through the pre-season. [23]

Estudiantes de Río Cuarto

On 16 January 2018, Aimar played in a friendly match for his youth club Estudiantes de Río Cuarto. After the match, he announced that he would be joining the squad ahead of the Copa Argentina fixture against Sportivo Belgrano on 23 January, in order to fulfill his wish of making an official appearance for the club where he began and spent eight years. [24]

The Copa Argentina match took place at Estudiantes' home stadium Estadio Ciudad de Río Cuarto. [25] Aimar was picked in the starting line up and wore the captain's armband, coming close to opening the score with a shot that was parried by the goalkeeper, before getting subbed off in the 50th minute. [26] The match ended in a goalless draw, which was not enough to see Estudiantes through the next round after a 2–1 loss in the first leg. [27] His brother Andrés was also in the line-up of Estudiantes. Afterwards, Aimar confirmed that he had no intention of making a definitive comeback and that this was indeed his farewell match from football. [28]

International career

Aimar first represented Argentina at youth levels. Along with future senior team players Esteban Cambiasso and Juan Román Riquelme he won the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship and went on to earn 52 senior caps following his debut in 1999, scoring eight international goals in total. [1] [29] He represented Argentina at the 1999 and 2007 editions of the Copa América, at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, and at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup.

In the 2002 World Cup, for which he was picked ahead of Riquelme, Aimar appeared against England, subbing in for Juan Sebastián Verón in the 1–0 loss, [30] which led coach Marcelo Bielsa to start him against Sweden at the latter's expense.

Aimar scored the last goal of the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup during Argentina's 4–1 loss in the final to champions Brazil. [31] He also appeared with the national side in the 2007 Copa América, scoring a goal in a 4–1 win against the United States in his team's opening group match of the competition; [32] Argentina went on to reach the final of the tournament, losing out to Brazil once again, this time 0–3, with Aimar coming on as a second-half substitute for Cambiasso. [33] [34]

After several months in the sidelines, Aimar received another international callup in October 2009, for decisive 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay. In the match against the former he repaid the faith placed in him by coach Diego Maradona, assisting Gonzalo Higuaín for Argentina's opener with a through ball, in an eventual 2–1 win.

Style of play

An elegant, technically gifted, and creative attacking midfielder, with a small frame, Aimar was a right-footed player, with vast array of skills and an eye for goal. [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] He excelled in a free role as an advanced playmaker, where he was best able to utilise his dribbling skills, vision, and passing ability to create chances for team-mates and orchestrate attacking moves. [36] [37] His skills and playing style saw him earn comparisons with Diego Maradona in his youth. [40] Due to his talent and flamboyance, he was given the nicknames El Payaso (the clown) and El Mago (the wizard) throughout his career. [36] [41] As a youth, compatriot Lionel Messi stated in 2002 that Aimar was one of his biggest influences as a player. [36] [42] In addition to his playing ability, Aimar also drew praise for his leadership qualities; however, despite his talent, he struggled with injuries throughout his career. [38]

Coaching career

Aimar was appointed as coach of the Argentina national under-17 football team in July 2017. [43]

Personal life

Aimar's younger brother, Andrés, is also a professional footballer and a midfielder. He represented several teams in his country – starting his career at River Plate – also playing for a few months in Israel. [44]

Career statistics

Club

As of 23 January 2018 [45] [46] [47]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
ClubSeasonLeagueCup [nb 1] Continental [nb 2] Other [nb 3] Total
DivisionAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
River Plate 1996–97 Argentine Primera División 10
1997–98 164
1998–99 182
1999–00 3213
2000–01 15251203
Total8221518722
Valencia 2000–01 La Liga 10280182
2001–02 3341062406
2002–03 3184 [nb 4] 01134611
2003–04 2545080384
2004–05 3142 [nb 5] 062396
2005–06 3252010355
Total1622713040721634
Zaragoza 2006–07 La Liga 31510325
2007–08 2202010250
Total5353010575
Benfica 2008–09 Primeira Liga 221201041292
2009–10 2541011140415
2010–11 235611215 [nb 6] 0467
2011–12 2422012140423
2012–13 130303020210
Total1071214139318117917
Johor Darul Ta'zim 2014 Malaysia Super League 820082
Total8200000082
River Plate 2015 Argentine Primera División1000000010
Total1000000010
Estudiantes Río Cuarto 2017–18 Torneo Federal A 1010
Total1010
Career total41367311851118154980

International

Argentina
YearAppsGoals
199920
200051
200180
200261
200394
200420
200561
200660
200771
200910
Total528

International goals

Argentina score listed first, score column indicates score after each Aimar goal.
#DateVenueOpponentScoreResultCompetition
1.16 August 2000 Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, Argentina Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay 1–11–1 2002 World Cup qualification
2.27 March 2002 Geneva, Switzerland Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon 2–12–2 Friendly
3.30 April 2003 June 11 Stadium, Tripoli, Libya Flag of Libya (1977-2011).svg  Libya 3–13–1
4.6 September 2003Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaFlag of Chile.svg  Chile 2–02–2 2006 World Cup qualification
5.9 September 2003 Estadio Olímpico, Caracas, Venezuela Flag of Venezuela (state).svg  Venezuela 1–03–0
6.15 November 2003Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaFlag of Bolivia (state).svg  Bolivia 3–03–0
7.29 June 2005 Waldstadion, Frankfurt, Germany Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 1–41–4 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup
8.28 June 2007 José Pachenco Romero, Maracaibo, Venezuela Flag of the United States.svg  United States 3–14–1 2007 Copa América

Honours

Club

River Plate [2]
Valencia
Benfica

International

Argentina U-17
Argentina U-20
Argentina

Individual

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