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Name Mario Kempes
Gender Male
Ethnic Argentinian
Job Argentinian Footballer
Desc Without Mario Kempes, there is no way Argentina would have been able to win their first ever World Cup on home soil. The former Valencia striker was in the form of his life in 1978, scoring six goals to secure the Golden Boot, as well as the Golden Ball. Notably, two of his goals came in the final itself, as Argentina dispatched the heavily fancied Netherlands


Org Argentina National Team
Club as Player Valencia FC

2010 06 05 Retrieve

[Mario Kempes describes his match winning second goal in Argentina’s triumph over the Netherlands back on home soil back in 1978] The crowd were willing it over the line. It was a goal of real suspense, and it finally sneaked in […] The other players had it tough - being shut away from the world for so long was a big sacrifice - but in the end it all paid off

[Showing his strength and refusal to be beaten, Kempes pinched his second with a goal that required a poacher’s instinct to finally get it over the line] I remember dribbling round two defenders and the goalkeeper coming towards me. I struck the ball and it came off the keeper’s midriff and bounced up, but I’d kept going and had to backtrack as it was coming down. I just managed to get the sole of my boot to it before the two Dutch defenders who were running towards me, and the ball bobbled over the line

[The striker hadn’t shaved for a few weeks going into the tournament and sported a beard in Argentina’s opening two games in 1978. Coach Cesar Luis Menotti encouraged him to shave it off saying it might change his luck in front of goal. With the beard removed, the goals started flying in and Argentina were on their way] After that (the goals against Poland) whenever the coach saw me, he’d say ‘You’re due a shave today Mario aren’t you?’ That was the famous story of the goals and the moustache

2011 10 26 Retrieve

[Mario Kempes says there is a lack of respect for Real Madrid] There is a lack of respect toward Real Madrid in my opinion. They have always been the best club and were acknowledged as such. However, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for Real Madrid these days. Perhaps the club has lost some of its glamour

They have become a real team under Jose Mourinho. They used to be a group of individuals, but that has changed. Even Cristiano Ronaldo has developed from a selfish goalscorer into someone who likes to pass the ball.

They will fight it out with Barcelona for the Primera Division title. Levante won’t keep their current form up

2014 11 12 Retrieve

[Mario Kempes on Maradona] Maradona was absolutely the best player I ever played with

2017 01 06 Retrieve

[Mario Kempes on Silvio Gazzaniga’s FIFA World Cup trophy] I can’t talk about something that I’ve never touched. I don’t know how to answer. Passarella and Fillol held it and I couldn’t do it. They didn’t let me. I suppose it would be heavy; it would be an amazing feeling to hold it. After many years - at France 1998 - I had a trophy, I took a picture with a trophy, but I’m not really sure if it was the authentic one

2018 07 05 Retrieve

[Kempes wants Argentina job following disastrous World Cup] It’s not easy to carry forward the national team because you have a whole country behind you. But I would be willing to take charge of the Argentina national team

2018 07 11 Retrieve

[Mario Kempes on Claudio Gentile] If you went to the toilet, Gentile would follow you there

2019 05 25 Retrieve

[Kempes sees change in Barcelona star’s game] Messi is Messi and Messi is Barcelona. What you do or do not do is key. When Messi is on the field, prepare yourself, because you do not know at what moment he is going to mess you up. But Messi should not surprise us. We have seen him do everything, although I think he has slowed down a bit and now I see him wanting to do more things on his own

Before I saw him as a team player, now I see him more selfish in his actions. It is the opposite of Cristiano, who now plays more for the team than for the ‘me’. I will tell you another thing, we Argentines criticise Messi because we are specialists in criticising what is ours. If you ask me who I would have liked to play with, I would say that with Messi … because I already played with [Diego] Maradona.

2019 05 26 Retrieve

[Kempes says Messi on his own can’t win you championships] Messi on his own can’t win you championships. He can win you matches and get you closer to a final, but not everything. Every coach who comes in feels an obligation to go to Barcelona to see Messi, and that’s worrying. He’s the best player in the world, but the best player in the world should be left alone. The coach should worry about the other players.

I think Messi has a lot of desire, but he comes into this in a bad way mentally and physically after the Liverpool and Copa del Rey final defeats

2019 06 13 Retrieve

[Mario Kempes says for such a long time, Argentina have only had Messi] Maradona was world champion in 1986 and Messi still hasn’t done that. That’s the reality.

But Messi has won it all, what he’s done has been fantastic, although there will always be this comparison that Messi will not be as good as Maradona because he’s not won the World Cup. It’s all stupid. Messi doesn’t have to win the World Cup to be as good as Diego.

None of Maradona’s teammates were scared to play alongside him and they all did what they had to do. They weren’t scared; they were actually thankful. But now, with the exception of some, they give up… Messi can’t do it all. You have to value it because, if you get called up to the national team, it’s not because you’re Messi’s friend, it’s because you complement Messi.

It’s clear that he has to know how to put up with everything that’s thrown at him. He’s the best in the world and I’m giving him every reason to kick up the fuss that he does because he has the right to do so; he can’t do it all. He’s not Superman. It gets to the point where you grow tired of: if they concede, it’s his fault; if the defender makes a mistake, it’s his fault; everything bad that happens to Argentina is his fault…

Argentinians are petty and selfish. I don’t understand this enthusiasm they have for Maradona now when we have the best in the world [in front of us right now]. That’s what Argentinians are like, they prefer to look backwards because Messi still hasn’t won the World Cup and forget that this guy has won it all. For some, Messi isn’t useful

[Kempes wants to see other players step up and contribute, rather than it being Messi who fires them to glory on his own] We have to work out what we want. Do we satisfy the fans in the short term and make us completely wrong? If you become champions, no one will care how you play, but I want to see how we play, what ambitions we have because, for such a long time, Argentina have only had Messi

I’m worried that these players, the ones who are stars with their clubs, forget everything when they go onto the pitch. I’m worried that they don’t have the same conviction with the national team that they have with their clubs.

I have no idea [how Argentina will play], I don’t know if it’ll be 4-3-3, 4-4-2… The only thing Scaloni has to do in this Copa America is find his team for the knockout stages. Not qualifying for the World Cup is what worries me the most. I find it shameful that they only gave him a contract for this Copa because there’s no reason to have a coach for two months. You have to see what Scaloni wants, who he plays, how he plays… I don’t think he’s going [into the tournament] with the mentality of becoming champions. Only scraping our way through the knockout stages would annoy me a lot.

[After a difficult season with Inter, Mauro Icardi has been left out of the final 23-man squad for this summer’s tournament. So, does Kempes think he’s wasted his talent?] I don’t think so, he can rediscover himself because he’s a great player. He’s used to playing up front on his own at Inter and he would be perfect if Argentina need a No.9

2019 06 22 Retrieve

[Kempes wants to see an Argentina without Barcelona talisman] We have not known for many years how best to play. The story keeps being repeated. You cannot see a system or a team. You can’t see anything.

What would happen if this national team took Messi out? Why do not we take him out and form a selection without Messi, and see if the players who are very good at their clubs bloom.

I think that giving Messi a break would not be a bad thing.

He wants to give everything, but the years go by and he feels tired. He has done everything possible to win something with the national team.

There is a Messi dependence. He’s the best in the world and they all look to give the ball to him, it’s a lack of personality.

We cannot pretend that Messi will solve all the problems. He cannot carry everything on his shoulders. It’s a big problem in Argentina.

It’s impossible to replace him. You will not find another Messi, but you can train a team without having the best in the world. It can go wrong, but with Messi there is no personality

2020 04 14 Retrieve

[Lautaro Martinez has been urged to seriously consider a move away from Inter, with Argentina legend Mario Kempes pointing out that the Barcelona train only passes once] Lautaro, for a couple of years now, has proven to be a great No.9. He’s shown it at Inter and Argentina. I believe that the train only passes once and, beyond the fact that Inter are a great team recognised globally, Barca are totally different. Playing with Messi would be fantastic. If he stays with Inter, it could be a good thing in terms of him continuing to gain experience. sBut if he wants to go to Barcelona and Inter are willing to let him leave for good money…

[Questions continue to be asked of whether the 26-year-old can become the global superstar many expected him to be, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo alongside him in Turin, but Kempes believes further potential can be unlocked] Dybala only lacks the belief that he is a great footballer. After his great experience at Palermo he had a great start with Juve and he did beautiful things. I don’t know if Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival made him play a little less. However, he is an important player for Juve and in the national team. We must accept that players like him are different. He must fight and put what he has inside on the field.