44. Daniel Passarella
Daniel Alberto Passarella, born May 25th 1953, was one of the most commanding sweepers/defenders in World Cup history. He was the perfect leader for any team, and became captain for both club and country at an early age. Despite being only 174cm, he was exceptional in the air and scored an impressive amount of goals by headers from corners or free-kicks.
Passarella was an unusual player. His scoring record is quite unique for a defender. In 298 matches in the Argentine league, he scored 99 goals. And when he moved to Italy to play for Fiorentina and later Inter Milan, his goal scoring continued, and he still holds the record in Serie A for goals scored by a defender. Even on international level he scored lots of goals. He won 70 caps for Argentina and scored 22 goals!
He won lots of honours in the game. Several league championships with River Plate in Argentina, which was the club he served most of his career. But the highlight was of course to win the World Cup in 1978 on home soil. He was 25 years old and captained Argentina to victory – a proud moment for “El Gran Capitan” (The great captain). The final itself was played on Passarella’s home ground, Estadio Monumental. Four years later in 1982, Argentina failed to reach the semifinals. A Passarella free-kick against Italy wasn’t enough to avoid defeat.
In Mexico 1986, at 33, he was included in the squad, but got injured and didn’t play a minute in the tournament Argentina went on to win. In 1989 he retired playing for his beloved River Plate. He took over as national coach for Argentina in 1994 and led them to the quarterfinals in France 1998 before retiring from the job.