Full name: Sergio Leonel Aguero del Castillo
Date of birth: 2 June 1988 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Clubs: 1997-2006; Independiente (56 matches, 23 goals). Since 2006:
Atletico Madrid (92 matches, 35 goals).
Honours: 2005, winner of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands.
2007: winner of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, Golden Boot for
top goalscorer of the tournament and Golden Ball for best player. 2003
Olympic champion in Beijing. 11 caps and three goals for Argentina.
Magic In The Blood
He’s barely 20 and is already considered one of the best forwards in the world: this is Sergio Aguero, the Argentinian two-time FIFA U-20 world champion and winner of a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Llevo I etfiitbol en fa sangre I Vamos Kun Aguero /fuerza, que el mundo quiere verte I mastrando tu coraje” [I've got / football in my blood / Go on Kun Aguero / be strong, because the world wants to see / your courage]. Switch on any radio station in Argentina and you are likely to hear this song by the cumbia band Los Leales, featuring Sergio Aguero, a world-class player who has put a modern twist on the traditional Maradona-style dribbling that used to thrill football fans the world over.
At 20, Aguero has already made a name for himself as one of today’s star players thanks to his attacking spurts – he does not need to be in possession for long to produce a magical pass or score a deciding goal from the tightest of angles. He has already notched up two U-20 world tides, an Olympic gold medal in Beijing and various individual awards from his days with his beloved Independiente and then with his current team Atletico Madrid, as well as with the Argentinian national team.
Aguero, also known to many as “Kun”, made his professional debut in Argentinian league football when he was only 15 years, one month and three days old -the youngest debut of all time – when Oscar Ruggeri, winner of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico, fielded him for Independiente against San Lorenzo on 5 July 2003 in the last match of the Clausura tournament. That was also the farewell match of one of the most popular footballers of recent times – Gabriel Milito, now a defender for Barcelona. In playing that match, Aguero broke the record for the youngest debut, held by none other than Diego Armando Maradona, who played his first match at 15 years and 11 months. Since then, the number of things Aguero has in common with the footballing legend has continued to grow.
“El Kun” is in a relationship with Maradona’s daughter Giannina, with whom he lives in Madrid, and the couple are to make Maradona a grandfather in the next few months (which explains his post-goal celebration in the match against Brazil during the Beijing Games when he sucked his thumb as a baby would a dummy).
A SIMPLE GAME
Born into a large family (seven children plus the parents) in the densely populated district of Flores in central Buenos Aires, Aguero soon moved to the southern zone
Llevo I elfutbol en la sangre I Vamos Kun Aguero /fuerza, que el mundo quiere verte I mastrando tu coraje” [I've got / football in my blood / Go on Kun Aguero / be strong, because the world wants to see / your courage]. Switch on any radio station in Argentina and you are likely to hear this song by the cumbia band Los Leales, featuring Sergio Aguero, a world-class player who has put a modern twist on the traditional Maradona-style dribbling that used to thrill football fans the world over.
At 20, Aguero has already made a name for himself as one of today’s star players thanks to his attacking spurts – he does not need to be in possession for long to produce a magical pass or score a deciding goal from the tightest of angles. He has already notched up two U-20 world tides, an Olympic gold medal in Beijing and various individual awards from his days with his beloved Independiente and then with his current team Atletico Madrid, as well as with the Atgentinian national team.
Aguero, also known to many as “Kun”, made his professional debut in Argentinian league football when he was only 15 years, one month and three days old -the youngest debut of all time – when Oscar Ruggeri, winner of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico, fielded him for Independiente against San Lorenzo on 5 July 2003 in the last match of the Clausura tournament. That was also the of greater Buenos Aires. By nine, his great skill had taken him to Independiente, and so he side-stepped the usual progression through the youth ranks before joining the first division. Everybody knew that Aguero was different — a special player.
Although Aguero’s game is simple, it is impossible to define his exact position on the pitch. Many consider him to be a striker given the number of goals he scores, and the experienced Argentinian coach Cesar Luis Menotti has even compared him to Romario, the great Brazilian goalscorer. Others, however, believe he is more like the classic Argentinian “number ten”, or maybe an attacking midfielder. Agueto himself has recently said that he does not consider himself a striker, even though coaches increasingly play him in that position and the fans want to see him playing and scoring more goals, in the hope of glimpsing one of those subtle shots that this magical player is capable of.
“Seeing Aguero play is like visiting the Prado Museum,” said Anatolyi Byshovets, Lokomotiv Moscow’s coach, having been amazed by the Argentinian’s performances with Atletico Madrid. The last few years have seen “El Kun’s” breakthrough at the Spanish club. Although he left Independiente too soon, he left his mark as one of the greats and there were a few memorable goals and matches, such as his two goals against Racing Club in the 2005 Apertura tournament. One of those goals, scored after some spectacular dribbling in the box, was later used in an advertisement, in which the player himself imitated the sound of the red fans shouting his name from the stands.
It was under the late Omar Pastoriza, one of Independiente’s icons, that Aguero made his name as a star, even though he always had to work on keeping his temper in check, in particular his reaction to rough tackles. He was first sent off during a match against the modest side Tiro Federal, and as a result missed the much-anticipated match against River Plate. However, he shed the most tears when he was shown the fifth yellow card that meant exclusion from the match against Boca Juniors in the 2006 Clausura tournament. He understood then that
the match against Olimpo de Bahia Blanca that day was to be his last in the red shirt, as he had just been transferred to Atletico Madrid in a deal worth EUR 20 million, at the tender age of 18. But thing have always moved very fast in Aguero’s life.
By then, he was already an FIFA U-20 world champion, even though he was the youngest member of the team, whose stand-out player was Lionel Messi. Francisco Ferraro had included Aguero in the squad almost as an extra, just so he could experience being involved in that kind of tournament. Nonetheless, as the Netherlands 2005 tournament progressed, and Argentina’s attackers failed to impress, Aguero was allowed to play in the final two matches against Brazil and Nigeria, and he was awarded a penalty that proved decisive in Argentina winning the title.
The European experience at Atletico Madrid was not easy to begin with. Although the Atletico fans loved him from the start, the Mexican coach Javier Aguirre opted to introduce him gradually. Nonetheless, Aguero made an impact in each of his appearances, whether as a player or a substitute. In the 2006-2007
season, when Fernando Torres was still at the club, Atletico finally qualified for a return to a European tournament: the UEFA Cup.
Last season, with Aguero an established player capable of generating magic at any moment and Diego Forlan also up front, Atletico finished fourth, thus ensuring a long-awaited place in the Champions League. Aguero progressed from seven goals in 27 matches in his first season, when he was considered an incredible player for his age, to 20 goals in 37 matches. He is now guaranteed a regular spot in the line-up and is well established as the best player in the team.
MA RADON A OR MESS1?
Among the highlights of this impressive season was the brilliant match against Barcelona last March, which Atletico won 4-2 at the Vicente Calderon stadium. Aguero scored two amazing goals that day, set up another and was awarded a penalty, which Forlan converted. All over Europe, people were awestruck by this player who, at barely 20, already has five seasons of top-flight football behind him and is continuing his vertiginous ascent.
What Aguero achieved last season was no mere chance. After all, he arrived in Spain having just won the sixth FIFA U-20 World Cup with Argentina in Canada, where he was captain and won both the Golden Boot for top goalscorer of the tournament and the Golden Ball for best player. That was his second consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cup win, but his first as its biggest star. This strengthened his status as one of the greats. This has all recently been topped off by a new addition to his trophy cabinet: the Olympic gold he won in Beijing. He did not get off to a great start at the Olympics because he was, perhaps wrongly, expected to score goals rather than impress with his skill. But he made an impact when it was most important, with his two goals in the semi-final against Brazil.
There is now no questioning his quality as a player, and he is a regular in the senior Argentinian national team, and has even gone on as a substitute for one of his idols, Carlos Tevez. There are those who believe Aguero is the new Argentinian Maradona, or at least the closest thing to a 21sr-century Maradona. Some compare him to Messi and some believe that because of his stocky physique
- strong and compact – he is more solid in the tackle than the Barcelona star. In Argentina, some also believe that another advantage he has over Messi is that, although he did not spend long in Argentinian league football, he did absorb some of the “slyness” with which the game is played there — hard and tactical, with close marking. His contemporary Messi, on the other hand, missed out on that as he signed for Barcelona at a very young age, and is therefore lacking those “vices”
and is consequently “too pure”. Many believe that one of the things that makes
Aguero such a great addition to any team is his experience playing unorganised
football in local fields, something that Messi never had.
What nobody questions is that Aguero still has a lot of magic to give, that he is still
very young, and that with his cheeky smile he seems utterly impervious to controversy or other people’s opinion of him. He’s got football in the blood, as they say in the song he likes so much, and all he wants is to be allowed to play.