Friday, June 13, 2008

Presenting the latest flying burrito brother…Diego Buonanotte - Pipita

When Ariel Arnaldo “el burrito” Ortega made his explosive impact in River Plate’s first team in 1992, he was immediately regarded as a typical product of the club’s youth policy. He combined the essential blend of outstanding technique, skill, and flair that had characterized the likes of other illustrious products of the River “school of football” such as Labruna, Di Stefano, Moreno, Loustau, Sívori, Onega, Alonso, and many others. Plus, his “gambeta” was regarded as the most impressive since the mid-eighties appearance of Claudio Caniggia in River’s line-up. His memorable performances in both of River’s successive triumphs against Boca at the latter’s Bombonera stadium during 1994 immortalized him as a hero of the fans.

By that time Ortega was part of a tremendously powerful forward line that also included the likes of the 34 year old Uruguayan and former River super-idol Enzo Francescoli, back from a long sojourn in France and Italy, and the very promising centrefoward Hernán Crespo. These forwards were assisted from midfield by two other youngsters that had also just broken into the first team from the youth ranks: the pint-sized Marcelo “el muñeco” Gallardo, tremendously skillful number ten, and Matías Almeyda, a very aggressive and versatile defensive midfield player. This team was coached by former River glories such as Daniel Passarella and “el tolo” Gallego, who eventually left River to become part of the Argentine national team staff. They were replaced by Ramón “el pelado” Díaz another River Plate legend.

Under Díaz’s guidance River won the 1996 Libertadores Cup and also the Apertura tournament during that same year. After this success, Ortega was transferred to Valencia. Although he played alongside Romario there, he never really adapted to Spanish football and left to the Italian Serie A to join Sampdoria a year later. In spite of the fact that this team was relegated during his first season there, “el burrito” managed to outshine the rest of that team, alongside the team’s goalscoring number nine Vincenzo Montella, and was sold to the then high riding Parma outfit. Here, despite teaming up with Crespo again, Ortega seriously went off the boil in the second half of the season and, after a succession of interminable rows with coach Malesani, decided to head back to his beloved River in 2000. His arrival created a commotion at the club where he began his first steps as a professional footballer, as he linked up with two new prodigies of the club’s youth policy, Aimar and Saviola.

Although River produced some delightful football with the “cuatro fantásticos”, the fourth in contention being the Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel, the team failed to pick up a trophy during “el burrito’s” first two years back home. However, Aimar and Saviola, who both left to play in Spain by 2001, declared to have profited enormously as a result of playing alongside Ortega. By 2002, Ortega was linking up with two new promises that had been promoted to the first team, largely as a consequence of Aimar and Saviola’s departures: attacking midfielder Andrés D’alessandro and centrefoward Fernando Cavenaghi. With this new powerful attacking trio, plus the invaluable assistance of other quality players such as Demichelis, Coudet and Cambiasso, River won the Clausura of 2002 playing some delightful attacking football.

It was clear that “el burrito” had become a referent for the young skillful players emerging from River’s junior ranks. Ortega departed from River again after playing for the national team in the 2002 World Cup, and began a most traumatic experience playing for Turkey’s Galatasaray. In the mean time, however, River had clearly profited with the maturity acquired by Ortega’s latest “disciple” D’alessandro the main commander of the team that won the Clausura again in 2003 alongside Cavenaghi, who in turn became the main referent, after D’alessandro was sold to Germany that same year, when River clinched yet another Clausura trophy in 2004. It was precisely at the end of that season that Ortega returned to Argentina, after his nightmarish Turkish experience that cost him a two year FIFA suspension for breach of contract, but this time to join Rosario club Newels Old Boys.

It would only be a matter of time, however, for Ortega to rejoin River for a second time. After a year and a half at Newels, where he obtained an Apertura trophy under the guidance of former coach Gallego, the man who promoted him to River’s first team in the early nineties, Passarella, was back at River eager to reunite Ortega with Gallardo, who had returned to River in 2003. In mid-2006, Passarella finally achieved this ambition but would rapidly be confronted by Ortega’s ever increasing personal problems, especially related with his drinking. Somehow “el burrito” managed to sustain himself after being in and out of the team during his first year, and produced some outstanding personal performances in the second half of 2007, especially in a 2-0 victory against Boca.

Nevertheless, Ortega’s impressive form was not enough to elevate River to the top level, and Passarella received the sack at the end of 2007. By the time Cholo Simeone took over as coach at the beginning of the following year, a diminutive and very frail looking offensive midfielder had erupted into the first team and would rapidly begin to score goals by way of his dribbling skill and powerful shots. The nineteen year old Diego Buonanotte proved to be a perfect new “compadre” for Ortega and, after traumatic defeats against Boca in the league and San Lorenzo in the Libertadores cup, these two players enabled River to clinch the Clausura league after four years without winning trophies of any sort. A new “burrito” disciple had yet again emerged.


guitougoal said...

Thanks Pipita, you made my day. As you
know already, I always had a special feeling about el burrito although sometimes he reminded me of a "symphonie inachevee"

pipita said...


Yes, I obviuously had in mind your esteem for burrito when I wrote this. "Symphonie inachevee" ?? Well, it depends. I suppose for those outside the River Plate universe this may very well be the case. But for most of us riverplatenses he has already reached the dimensions of an "untouchable", a total idol

clack said...

It always amuses me the way every Argentina player appears to have a nickname, normally 'The (insert name of an animal/object etc.)

But why 'The Little Donkey' for Ortega?

- surely, one of the most undonkeylike players to have grazed - whoops, I mean graced - Argentine fields?

Or is it because he looks like a Donkey, just as his former team-mate 'El Piojo' Lopez had the face of a flea?

I see that, just at the moment Ortega is receiving all the plaudits again, he's only gone and not and missed training again yesterday. What a headache for Simeone!

guitougoal said...

Symphonie inachevee it's a compliment Pipita, but I thought the jury was still out just because of his lifestyle regardless of his phenomenal talent.

clack said...

So, for the World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador on Sunday, it looks like El Coco is going to stick with el Pato in goal and el gringo at the back. El Kun and El Pulga up front, wih el Pupi, el Jefecito and la Bruja, across the middle, behind Roman across. It's likely he'll bring on el Jardinero on at some point though?

Coconuts, ducks, gringos, little chiefs, little whitches, and gardeners????

But what is 'el Kun' Aguero? And Pupi Zanetti?

offsideintahiti said...

Kun means "shrimp" in Thai. No idea about Pupi.

Nice one, Pipita. People rarely give enough credit to the influence of experienced players on young ones. In that particular case, however, do you think Ortega might have a negative influence off the pitch?

fitzcarraldo greengrass said...

Nice one, Pipita!
Very kind of you and Clack to come on here and give us something worth reading when there's no footy in Europe.

Diego Buonanotte???
A great name - for a leader of Naples' camorra!

Diego Goodnight would be the perfect name for a character in a James Bond film - perhaps a luscious, transvestite Venezuelan agent who catches J.B. with his pants down in a Caracas Turkish baths.

bluedaddy said...

Thanks Pipita. Ortega's career is the stuff of (soap) opera.

That penalty decision was outrageous though. Yes the goalie moved, but that stutter technique is the equivalent of a goalie edging forward, so they should be allowed to cancel each other out.

marcela said...

using 'the' before a name is actually a very latin american thing, even if it's not a nickname...
argentinians do it less than, say, chileans. and porteños do it even less than people from the 'interior'.

but 'the' clack, 'the' pipita... that would not raise a single eyebrow in most parts of the pampas.

as for why donkey? good question. i heard it had something to do with where he comes from - maybe?

lovely, pipita. really nice that the little donkey is still at it, we've written him off so many times already. as for buenanotte; bluedaddy is wanting to play 'stuck in the mud' with him on clack's thread :)

pipita said...

Many thanks for all the comments. Apologies for not having been present more often, but we're in the middle of a bank holliday here so have been out quite a bit.
Clack, marcela
Yeah, I think "burrito" has some regional connotation, also heard it has to do with the size of his you know what, but sincerly don't give much credit to this last theory......
Get what you mean, it's just that "unfinished" seems to imply he could have achieved more than what he actually did, but I'm well aware you consider him top quality
Exactly, that's what I was trying to stress here. It's amazing all the old pictures you see of saviola, d'alessandro, cavenaghi, etc posing as 14 year old ball boys, after a River game with the likes of established river players such as francescoli, gallardo and ortega, and then actually getting to play with their idols four years later.
No doubt, buonanotte is a name out of the italian mafia directory, but just one look at his physique wipes out any such connection
Come off it, he was way out of his line before the actual shot. Ortega's career and personal life indeed still is soap opera material

marcela said...

" but sincerly don't give much credit to this last theory......"

c'mon, pips - credit where it's due. :)

bluedaddy said...

Makelele's nickname at Real Madrid apparently 'Tripod'.

Pipita. Penalties favour the striker enough as it is without them being allowed to stutter their run-ups. A successful 'stutter penalty' should be re-taken in my book.

don erbaverde said...

The game needs to be brightened up.

Why not allow penalty takers and goalies to do anything whatsoever -
somersaults, gurning, dropping shorts
- as long as the goalie stays on his line.

Penalties - one at each end - could also be introduced for boring play.

lack of height (or girth) does not necessarily make anyone less lethal; the opposite is all too often the case.

marcela said...

prof hierba verde...

you remind me of my father (!) who used to say he'd rather watch a tennis match between the two goalies...

byebyebadman said...

Thanks Pip, I'll keep my eyes on this lad. As he's only 19, could he be the fulcrum for (yet another) World Youth Cup winning side?

Good to hear about Ortega as well, amzing career he's had. I vividly recall his elevation into the 94 World Cup team after Maradona's suspension, all those years ago...

How are you Argentines feeling ahead of the big showdown with Brazil?

And the penalty issue, for me to ban the stutter would be like banning looking in one corner and kicking it in the other as my dad taught me...all comes under the subtle art of misdirection. :)

munni said...

Ah, the stutter's fine. Penalties are as much about mindgames as anything else, anyway, why pretend otherwise? I'm with Marcela's dad, except I might change tennis match to fist fight.

I rather love guitou's "symphonie inachevee" description, but is the connotation slightly different in French than English or am I imagining that?

pipita said...

I'm well aware of that Yerbaverde...Marcela, I don't give much credit to that theory because I only heard it once from a pretty dodgy source.
After watching Argentina's amazingly dull draw with Ecuador, my hopes for tommorrow's clasico are at best grim. Buonanotte should definetly be in the next under 20's world cup.
I think I interpreted Guitou's descrption just like yourself. Please enlighten us further on this subject mon ami......

clack said...

Is gurning against the rules, then?

Not as far as I am aware?

Very good point,erbaverde-considering the endless possibilities of distracting antics a goalkeeper could resort to on penalties, I feel this is part of the game that is still very much only in the initial stages of development.

Seeing as players these days are allowed to whip=out baby-s dummies, spiderman masks and all manner of props from somewhere, upon scoring, why couldn-t a keeper suddenly don a monkey mask,complete with Gazza-type plastic breasts, or something similar, just befóre the penalty-taker shapes up to shoot?

don erbaverde said...

Dear Marcela,
I remind you of your Dad?
I believe treatment for such ailments are freely available on the National Health.
My cousin, Spocky Greengrass, might be able to assist.
Dear Munni,
and just what are you up to with Marcela's Dad?
Dear Froggie friends,
beaten again by your Latin cousins!
Words fail me - I really want to say something infinitely comforting, but the alignment of my planets prevents me (my Guest1977 is out of flunter with my GrazieRoma).
Off to accompany the kids' Midsummer singing of "Little Frogs" at the local phallus (this is beginning to make me sound like a low-budget Arsene), then slide into solsticial oblivion.

Anonymous said...

I want to make something clear. Ortega played in Turkey, Fenerbahçe. Not Galatasaray.

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