Esteban Cambiasso is seated in the ante room of the F.C Internazionale Milano Spa, waiting calmly for the call to come from Piero Ausilio, Inter Milan’s technical director. It was the day he had been dreading, the day that may spell the end of a glittering 10-year stay in Milan, one of 315 memroable appearances and 41 cherished goals. Yet the plausibility had dawned on him, prepared to keep his composure when Ausilio refused to offer the Argentinian a contract extension. Where next? For Cambiasso, retirement was never an option. His love for football is interminable. Opportunities were presented, including the Indian Super League, but Cambiasso had his heart destined on the Premier League, and more specifically, Leicester City.
Leaving Inter was laborious but Cambiasso is feeling at home at welcoming City. His taste of the Premier League thus far has been brief, a mere two appearances and an accomplished goal against Manchester United, but the Argentinian is loving it already, embracing a new league and a new lifestyle in Leicester’s humble surroundings. From the complexity of Buenos Aires, the gloss of Real Madrid and the affection at Inter Milan, Cambiasso may have arrived at his last destination in an enviable career boasting a plethora of luminous achievements.
His last destination? Cambiasso is far from finished, far from a player devoid of his previous qualities. The touch of genius, the awareness, nimble feet and footballing intelligence remains almost nonchonantly. The former Real Madrid maestro will surely enrich City’s fight for Premier League surivival, fight for establishment amid adversity in the world’s most demanding league. He offers experience after memories of starring and gracing football matches of the highest stature – UEFA Champions League finals and World Cup semi-finals.
His impact upon arrival has been substantial, with a plethora of his City colleagues expressing their impression with his composure and how well he speaks. He has too impressed Pearson and emanated a studious and eager approach. “If you have a closed mind to anything then you might be very good at what you do but there won’t be any scope to get better,” said City manager Nigel Pearson. “It depends on the individual but if you have an open mind, meet people and mix with people who come from a different skill sets and experiences then you have a decent chance of learning. I don’t think anyone is ever too old to learn from someone else.
“My observation is when you have someone who learns other people’s names as quickly as Esteban has throughout the squad that would suggest he is interested in his team-mates. He has spent time getting to know his team-mates. It illustrates his desire to get to know people but also he understands the fact he will get to know the culture and the people he works with a lot better if he shows interest, and he is genuinely interested. That is a reflection of his qualities as a person as much as anything.
“The players have clips of either themselves or the opposition on a daily basis,” continued Pearson. “They don’t have to take DVDs, they have it loaded on to their iPad, or whatever medium they use.Essentially, he has shown a huge interest in what our opponents are like. That is a personal thing. The most important thing is to make things available to people and then it is about how far they take it themselves. I am not dictatorial in the way I manage people. I think it is far more productive to make things available and then let them buy into it.”
An excellent addition
He’s been there and done it, but not in English football. After all, it was the appeal of the English game which enticed the Argentinian to British shores. He wanted a new challenge but one posing the familiar strains he had faced in continental Europe. Although 34, Cambiasso was not prepared to sample leagues of great financial profits such as the inaugural Indian Super League or to appease the growing love for football in the Middle East.
His acquisition was arduous, at times unfeasible, but Pearson and City are reaping the rewards for their resilience and persistence. At times, Cambiasso’s numerous agents were unsuccessful in brokering a deal but Pearson is thankful his club completed the transfer. He brings experience, nous, flair and expertise, complimenting the aggression, passion and determination of Danny Drinkwater well. From only one start and one cameo from the substitutes bench, Cambiasso’s mercurial excellence is shining through.
Aged 34, the Argentinian will not play every game but will impose his brilliance on those that he graces. An encouraging individual display in the cherished 5-3 victory over United at the King Power was sufficient for a chant to be improvised in his honour. He excelled against United, dictating the flow and tempo of Leicester’s courageous fightback. A suitable introduction to life in the Premier League. Never easy, hardly predictable.
Summoned as a holding midfielder alongside Dean Hammond with Drinkwater pushed further forward, Cambiasso roamed across the midfield, stemming hazardous United breaks and meticulously tracking the runs of United’s attacking trio of Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera. His goal was accomplished and a composed finish, a reward for his occasional forward surges. Anticipating nimbly, the Argentinian pounced on a moment of incertitude, drilling through United defender Tyler Blackett’s outstreched legs and past the despaired David De Gea. It was his home debut but Cambiasso had won the adulation of the King Power. “Esteban Cambiasso, he’s magic you know,” serenaded 31,784 City fans.
And for the City faithful, more moments of magic should await.Published 18 Oct 2014, 11:13 IST