Juan Román Riquelme was always a personality that intrigued many in the soccer world. His unparalleled skill and penchant to virtually will the ball wherever he wanted made him such an attractive footballer to watch on any pitch he played on throughout his career.
In the next few days, when Riquelme is presented on the same Argentinos Juniors pitch where it all began as a young kid, many will look at what happened to his legacy at Boca and how it all turned sour.
Even as a player that was coming out of the streets of San Fernando over in northern Greater Buenos Aires, he was one of the young and up and coming players in youth football by the time he turned 13. That potential, unharnessed artistry, was beginning to be molded at the same place where a footballing demigod did just two decades before. La Paternal was the place where Riquelme would start to be talked about by many and it would be a move to Boca would be in the cards for him and his destiny would take that turn to greatness. But at times, his success ended up dividing opinions in Argentina.
Since his debut as a 17-year-old kid at La Bombonera, he was able to captivate the imagination of a fanbase and a footballing nation whenever he was able to conjure up his magic. Still if his style of play was engaging and able to seduce millions, his personality was often dry and even divisive.
His attitude was not the best one as Riquelme was often at odds with most coaches that he was under. He was at odds with Manuel Pellegrini at Villarreal, putting president Fernando Roig in a position where he backed the coach and left his biggest star out in the cold.
The same happened with Julio César Falcioni, when he chose to make the player more important that the squad. The night before the Copa Libertadores final against Corinthians, Riquelme came out and said he was leaving the Xeneize because he had ¨nothing left¨ to give to Boca. It was only after Carlos Bianchi returned for a third stint at the club that Riquelme’s tank of giving seemed full once again. That was only after the fans at La Bombonera gave their final verdict in a stadium that resembled a Roman coliseum and the 55 thousand-plus fans gave their collective thumbs down to the coach that just a year ago led them on the second longest unbeaten streak and the second unbeaten league title in history.