Football Features

Where are they now? Argentina’s 2008 Olympic gold winners

By Oliver Young-Myles

Where are they now? Argentina's 2008 Olympic gold winners

Published: 13:00, 4 December 2022 | Updated: 13:49, 16 December 2022

Despite their deserved billing as one of the world’s elite footballing nations, Argentina had to wait nearly 30 years for a major honour at international after winning the Copa America in 1993, winning last year’s edition to end that barren spell.

But, while La Albiceleste had a protracted wait before claiming South America’s coveted gong in 2021, they had enjoyed more recent success in one of international football’s less prestigious competitions — the Olympic Games.

Argentina secured gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and followed that up with another victory in Beijing four years later, winning all six of their games with an aggregate score of 11-2.

The ease with which Argentina won the competition is perhaps unsurprising given the immense talent that made up their 19-man squad.

Of Argentina’s 2008 Olympic gold medalists, the vast majority have gone on to become some of the most successful players on the planet, but that isn’t necessarily the case for everyone…

Oscar Ustari

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 36

Senior international apps: 2

Current club: Pachuca

Once considered Argentina’s brightest goalkeeping talent, injuries have compromised a promising career for former Sunderland goalkeeper Oscar Ustari, who now plies his trade in Mexico with Pachuca.

Ezequiel Garay

Position: Centre-back

Age: 36

Senior international apps: 32

Current club: Retired

Just prior to the Olympics, Ezequiel Garay agreed to join Real Madrid from Racing Santander but after struggling at the Bernabeu he moved on, initially to Benfica and then to Zenit in 2014. He most recently turned out for Valencia but left the club after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in February 2020 and has since retired.

Fabian Monzon

Position: Left-back

Age: 35

Senior international apps: 7

Current club: Retired

Fabian Monzon moved to Real Betis after impressing in Beijing and he went on to play for Nice, Lyon, Fluminense, Catania, Boca Juniors and Universidad de Chile before joining Club Atletico Tucuman in 2019 and retiring last year. His last cap came in 2011.

Federico Fazio

Position: Centre-back

Age: 35

International apps: 10

Current club: Salernitana

The towering centre-back spent seven extremely productive seasons with Sevilla before leaving for Tottenham in 2014. Things didn’t go quite so well in north London, though, and he spent the second half of 2015/16 back with the Europa League winners, before joining Roma on loan for 2016/17 and then permanently. After half-a-decade in the Eternal City, he is now trying to keep Salernitana afloat in Serie A.


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Pablo Zabaleta

Position: Right-back

Age: 37

Senior international apps: 58

Current club: Retired

After featuring in all six of Argentina’s Olympics matches, Pablo Zabaleta swapped Espanyol for Manchester City, where he played a key role in helping the club become one of England’s most successful clubs. And he finished his time in England (and his career) at West Ham, endearing himself to another set of fans before bowing out in October 2020.

Fernando Gago

Position: Defensive Midfield

Age: 36

International apps: 61

Current club: Retired

Despite impressing on the international stage, Fernando Gago’s club career had mixed success. After struggling to forge a career in Europe with Real Madrid, Roma and Valencia, he’d return to where it all started at Boca Juniors before moving to Velez Sarsfield on a free and then retiring just a month after Zabaleta in November 2020.

Jose Sosa

Position: Right Wing

Age: 37

Senior international apps: 19

Current club: Estudiantes

An extremely well-travelled winger, Jose Sosa’s colourful career has taken in spells at Bayern Munich, Napoli, Metalist Kharkiv, Atletico Madrid and Besiktas, where he won the league in 2015/16. He now plays for boyhood club Estudiantes, retuning in the summer some 15 years after he initially left to embark on a European adventure. In his later years he also had spells at Milan, Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce. Not a bad CV.

Ever Banega

Position: Centre Midfield

Age: 34

International apps: 65

Current club: Al Shabab

The talented midfield schemer spent his formative years with Valencia and played for Atletico Madrid, Estudiantes and Inter before returning to Sevilla, where he won three Europa League titles. He has since moved to the Saudi Pro League with Al Shabab.

Ezequiel Lavezzi

Position: Left Wing

Age: 37

International apps: 51

Current club: Retired

Established himself as an extremely highly-rated talent at Napoli, which culminated in a move to European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain in 2012. After three-and-a-half seasons in Paris, Lavezzi joined a host of high-profile stars in the Chinese Super League, scoring 35 goals in 75 games for Hebei China Fortune before retiring in 2019.

Juan Roman Riquelme

Position: Attacking Midfield

Age: 44

International apps: 51

Current club: Retired

Captained Argentina to their Olympic success. Juan Roman Riquelme represented Barcelona and Villarreal in Europe as well as Boca Juniors and Argentinos Juniors in his homeland. Riquelme announced his retirement in January 2015.

Angel Di Maria

Position: Left wing

Age: 34

International apps: 127

Current club: Juventus

Argentina’s match-winner in the 1-0 win over Nigeria in the final, Angel Di Maria has played for Benfica, Real Madrid and Manchester United, whom he left after just one season to join PSG. After seven trophy-spangled years in the French capital, Di Maria has now added Juventus to his illustrious CV.

Lionel Messi

Position: Forward

Age: 35

International apps: 169

Current club: PSG

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner netted twice at the Beijing Olympics and has since surpassed Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time scoring record for Argentina with 94 goals. It is surely only a matter of time before he joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Ali Daei in the 100 club. As things stand, Messi is the third-highest international scorer of all-time, enhancing his legacy in Qatar.

Sergio Aguero

Position: Forward

Age: 34

International apps: 101

Current club: Retired

A key man for club and country during his playing days. Sergio Aguero scored an astonishing 260 goals in 390 games for Manchester City before joining Barcelona in 2021. Unfortunately, for one of the sport’s most gifted finishers, Aguero was forced to retire for health reasons last year, but he leaves behind a outstanding legacy.

Sergio Romero

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 35

International apps: 96

Current club: Boca Juniors

In the strange position of being his country’s first-choice ‘keeper for a while, Sergio Romero played second fiddle during his stint at Manchester United to David De Gea for six years. He has since left — currently turning out for Boca Juniors — and is no longer the No. 1 for Argentina, though he did rack up nearly 100 caps.

Lautaro Acosta

Position: Forward

Age: 34

International apps: 2

Current club: Lanus

Unfortunately, injury problems have ravaged Lautaro Acosta’s career and after an unsuccessful time at Sevilla and Racing Santander in Spain, he returned to his first club, Lanus, in 2013.

Javier Mascherano

Position: Centre-back

Age: 38

International apps: 147

Current club: Retired

An established international player by the time of the Beijing Olympics, Javier Mascherano’s career has seen him turn out for River Plate, Corinthians, West Ham, Liverpool and Barcelona, whom he represented from 2010, before leaving for China in January 2018. Mascherano’s time in China lasted 54 games before he returned to his homeland to represent Estudiantes, and then hanging up his boots, like Gago, in November 2020.

Nicolas Pareja

Position: Centre-back

Age: 38

International apps: 1

Current club: Retired

Nicolas Pareja struggled to live up to his early promise — as shown by his solitary senior cap — after playing for Anderlecht, Espanyol, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Mexican outfit Atlas. He has since retired.

Diego Buonanotte

Position: Left Wing

Age: 34

International apps: 0

Current club: Sporting Cristal

Another starlet who failed to justify his early hype. The diminutive 5ft 3in winger can now be found playing his club football in Peru with Sporting Cristal, after previously turning out for River Plate, Malaga, Granada, Pachuca, Quilmes, AEK Athens and Universidad Catolica.

Nicolas Navarro

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 37

International apps: 0

Current club: Retired

After failing to claim the No.1 jersey at Napoli, Nicolas Navarro bounced from club to club and eventually retired last year, last turning out for Arsenal de Sarandi.

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