The luxury squires of the World Cup in Qatar: yesterday’s figures became field assistants

Mario Mandzukic He was a well-known striker, with experience in various major league clubs and who retired from soccer in 2021, at the age of 35. He has a strong bond with Croatian national team, of which he is his second all-time goalscorer, with 33 goals in 89 games, only being surpassed by the legendary Davor Suker (45). One of Mandzukic’s 33 goals with the Balkan team’s checkered shirt was in the 2018 World Cup final in Russia, which they lost 4-2 to France. In fact, an own goal was also scored, which opened the account in favor of the Gauls.

Four years later, the ex-soccer player is present with his country in the World Cup in Qatar, but from another side. Strictly speaking, from the bench. He is one of Zlatko Dalic’s technical assistants in the national team. It is not something isolated on the World Cup stage. The former striker for Bayern Munich and Juventus is part of a large group of former players who are at the planetary appointment in the work of field assistant. The head coach’s squires.

Reviewing the coaching staff of the 32 participating teams, available in the official document of the good faith lists released by FIFA (before kick-off), this yields, at least, about twenty relevant ex-soccer players, with World Cup experience, who are technical assistants or goalkeeper coaches. They are broken down into 12 different casts.

In the case of Croatia, Dalic’s coaching staff has four ex-selections. Apart from Mandzukic, the other assistants are drazen ladic (the starting goalkeeper at France 1998), ivica olic (former striker who played in the 2002, 2006 and 2014 World Cups) and Vedran Corluka (runner-up in the world in 2018).

In the list, names appear more or less known, and more or less successful. One notable is Thierry Henry. The Frenchman served as Roberto Martínez’s assistant on the Belgian bench, just as it happened in Russia 2018, when the Red Devils achieved their best ever World Cup campaign: third place. The idol of Arsenal was the one who comforted a waste Romelu Lukaku, after missing goals scored against Croatia, which ended up burying the aspirations of the team to qualify for the round of 16. Another former player that Bob Martínez had on his team was Thomas Vermaelenwho was a defender for Ajax and Barcelona, ​​​​a World Cup player in 2014 and 2018. The cycle of the Spanish in charge of Belgium ended after the elimination.

Thierry Henry, assistant to Roberto Martínez in Belgium. PHOTO: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Louis van Gaal, coach of the Netherlands, has as his number two edgar davids. The one who was a rocky central midfielder began his path as DT in 2012. When he returned to the main strategist at the Oranjejoined as a collaborator, in a coaching staff that also includes Danny Blind, another glory of that European champion Ajax in 1995. His son Daley is playing for the Dutch and he scored a goal for the United States, to go to the quarterfinals, which he celebrated by hugging his father.

Something similar happens in Argentina. Lionel Scaloni was Jorge Sampaoli’s assistant in Russia 2018. Now, the former Deportivo de La Coruña full-back is the boss and has three emblems of trans-Andean football as squires. Walter Samuel, Roberto Ayala and Pablo Aimar They are part of the coaching staff of the Albiceleste. El Payasito, who was a talented attacking midfielder (born from River’s youth academy), was moved to tears after Lionel Messi’s goal against Mexico, which put the victory over the Aztecs on track. “These are things that must be left in the beautiful memory,” said Scaloni, consulted about the event.

There is more. do you remember Tony Sylva? He was Senegal’s goalkeeper in the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan, the first participation of the African team in World Cups and the best to date (quarterfinals). He is the goalkeeping coach of the coaching staff led by Aliou Cissé, his former teammate from that squad. Another notable head of goalkeepers is Luis Gabelo Rabbit in Costa Rica (he was the goal of the Ticos in Italy ’90).

In Brazil, the coaching staff headed by Tite has as assistant Cesar Sampaio, former midfielder for Palmeiras and Deportivo (among others), the same player who scored against Chile in the round of 16 of France ’98, in the Parque de los Príncipes. he is too Claudio Taffarell as a goalkeeping coach. And in Uruguay, Diego Alonso’s assistant at La Celeste was the former defender Dario Rodriguez.

Selection Former players in the coaching staff
Argentina Walter Samuel (assistant)
Roberto Ayala (assistant)
Pablo Aimar (assistant)
Australia Tony Vidmar (assistant)
Belgium Thierry Henry (assistant)
Thomas Vermaelen (assistant)
Brazil Cesar Sampaio (assistant)
Taffarel (goalkeeping coach)
Costa Rica Luis Gabelo Conejo (goalkeeping coach)
Croatia Drazen Ladic (assistant)
Ivica Olic (assistant)
Vedran Corluka (assistant)
Mario Mandzukic (assistant)
Denmark Christian Poulsen (assistant)
Ghana Richard Kingson (goalkeeping coach)
Netherlands Edgar Davids (assistant)
Danny Blind (assistant)
Senegal Tony Sylva (goalkeeping coach)
Tunisia Ali Boumnijel (assistant)
Selim Benachour (assistant)
Uruguay Darío Rodríguez (assistant)