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Mauricio's Argentina: 'To wear the shirt is the best thing that can happen in your life'

Posted on 11 November 2016  - 14:30

In the final part of 'Mauricio's Argentina', Mauricio Pochettino tells us what it was like to go from the wide-eyed young boy who watched Argentina win the World Cup on a black and white TV aged six in 1978 to representing his country in the World Cup 24 years later.

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Mauricio Pochettino's dream came true in March, 1999.

That's when he went from the boy from the small town of Murphy to full Argentine international, his first full cap.

It was quite a game as well against Holland at ArenA Amsterdam.

Argentina lined-up with the likes of Veron, Zanetti and Batistuta alongside Mauricio while the home side fielded van der Sar, Cocu, Davids, Seedoorf, Bergkamp and Kluivert. Former Spurs midfielder Davids fired Holland into the lead with a cracker from 25 yards but was then sent off and Batistuta, 'Batigol' levelled late for Argentina.

Below: Mauricio training with Argentina in 1999

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It was Mauricio's first cap of 20 between 1999-2002 - all under Marcelo Bielsa - taking in three appearances in the 2002 World Cup Finals.

'The best thing'

Mauricio: "For all Argentina players to wear the Argentina shirt is the best thing that can happen in your life because we are really passionate about football, we are really proud of our country and we all want to play for our country. It’s a special thing. My debut was against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. It was a great moment, unbelievable for me."

Below: Mauricio lines-up against England in the 2002 World Cup

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The World Cup

Mauricio: "The World Cup was difficult (Argentina lost to England, Mauricio fouled Michael Owen for a penalty and Argentina went out in the group stage). You don’t have time to stop, to enjoy it.You arrive then play and play. Now, maybe when I remember everything that has happened in my career, maybe I can enjoy it more than in that moment when you are involved. You don’t have time to stop and enjoy it. Now you realise. Now you can appreciate it’s a massive thing."

Below: Mauricio in training with Harry Kane and assistant Jesus Perez

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Qualifying in South America - 'more than football'

As we've seen this time around, qualifying for the World Cup Finals via South America is tough. Argentina lost 3-0 against Brazil in the early hours of Friday and that has left them sixth of 10 teams aiming for Russia in 2018.

The 10 teams play home and away and the top four progress to the finals. The fifth-placed team then enters the intercontinental play-off.

Argentina are only point adrift of Ecuador with seven matches remaining, but the fact they are down in sixth illustrates how difficult it is.

Mauricio: "It’s difficult, yes. It’s very competitive. Now you can look at the table and Argentina big games ahead. We’ll see. When you play, you are not looking to just play football, you play more than football. The atmosphere outside the stadium, at the hotel, when you are training, it’s like you are fighting for something beyond football."

Mauricio's Argentina - Part 1 - 'a football was my only toy'.

Mauricio's Argentina - Part 2 - 'Maradona was my room-mate'.