César Luis Menotti, Who Coached Argentina to a World Cup, Dies at 85

César Luis Menotti, the charismatic coach who in 1978 led Argentina to its first World Cup title, achieving that milestone in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, has died. He was 85.

The Argentine Football Association announced the death on Sunday but did not give a cause or specify where or when he died. Local media reports said that he had been admitted to a clinic in March with severe anemia. He reportedly underwent surgery for phlebitis in April and then returned home.

Passion for soccer and a sharp ability to explain its mechanics were Menotti’s hallmark characteristics as a trainer. He was considered one of the most emblematic and influential coaches in Argentine soccer.

Menotti during a training session in 1980. His own playing career extended from 1960 to 1970. Credit…Duncan Raban/Allsport, via Getty Images

Menotti, whose nickname was El Flaco (The Thin One), coached Argentina’s national team from 1974 to 1983. He was convinced that the team did not get the recognition it deserved when it won the World Cup because the country was ruled at the time by a military junta responsible for widespread human rights violations.

His detractors often recalled a photo in which Menotti, after Argentina defeated the Netherlands in the final, 3-1, shook hands with Jorge Rafael Videla, who was the head of the junta. The victory came at the height of the so-called dirty war, in which thousands of political opponents of the regime were tortured, killed or “disappeared.”

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