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Sergio the dog

In Goycochea’s case, retiring from football did not prove traumatic. “You need a long time to digest the idea,” he explains. “There is no overnight replacement of tasks, although there are activities that can make the transition as smooth as possible. One thing I never had to go through, and people sad it is very hard, is a decline in popularity. My image did not suffer a downturn, I was always in demand by the media and people were always affectionate towards me. Also, I didn’t treat journalism as a hobby, it’s a profession I genuinely like.”
Goycochea experienced a whole range of emotions at the 1990 World Cup: a humiliating defeat against Cameroon in the opening match, which he watched from the substitute’s bench, his replacement of the injured Nery Pumpido during the match against USSR, a brilliant performance against Brazil; penalty shoot-outs against Yugoslavia and Italy and the loss in the final against West Germany. The one thing he will never forget, however, is the night of the semi-final in Naples when Argentina defeated Italy on penalties: “The moment when I saved Aldo Serena’s penalty and ran to embrace my team-mates is engraved on my memory. That was the high point of the tournament for me and other people as well; everyone brings the subject up with me. Some of the things I hear are unbelievable: people come up to me and say that they have jumped around so much they fell over and broke a leg, others tell me they named their son Sergio in my honour … even some people’s dogs were christened after me!”
History has enhanced the reputation of that Argentina team, which reached the final despite being decimated by injuries and suspensions and scoring only four goals. That is something Goycochea is aware of: “The public’s affection is a comfort to me, not just after what happened in 1990 but also in the light of the fact that Argentina have not been in a final since then. What we achieved in Italy has grown in importance. If we had won the World Cup in the USA, Korea and Japan or Germany, that memory would have faded a little.”