Football Features

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

By Oliver Young-Myles

Published: 17:00, 14 January 2021

Despite their deserved billing as one of the world’s elite footballing nations, Argentina have had to wait a considerable length of time to lift a major trophy, with their last victory coming way back in 1993. 

But while La Albiceleste’s wait for a major honour spans over two decades, they have 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: 34

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: 34

Senior international apps: 32

Current club: Free agent

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. Garay has since recovered and has talked up a return to the pitch, with the likes of Liverpool and Barcelona touted as possible destinations to remedy their recent injury troubles at the back.

Luciano Monzon

Position: Left-back

Age: 33

Senior international apps: 7

Current club: Club Atlético Tucumán

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 Atlético Tucumán in 2019. His last cap came in 2011.

Federico Fazio

Position: Centre-back

Age: 33

International apps: 10

Current club: Roma

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.

Pablo Zabaleta

West Ham United’s Pablo Zabaleta acknowledges the fans after the final whistle

Position: Right-back

Age: 35

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.

Fernando Gago

Position: Defensive Midfield

Age: 34

International apps: 61

Current club: Retired

Despite impressing on the international stage, Fernando Gago’s club career has 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 recently retiring just a month after Zabaleta in November 2020.

Jose Sosa

Position: Right Wing

Age: 35

Senior international apps: 19

Current club: Fenerbahce

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 Turkish giants Fenerbahce after moving from Trabzonspor in the summer.

Ever Banega

Position: Centre Midfield

Age: 32

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, including last season’s. He has since moved to the Saudi Pro League with Al Shabab.

Ezequiel Lavezzi

Position: Left Wing

Age: 35

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: 42

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: 32

International apps: 104

Current club: Paris Saint-Germain

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 his current employers, PSG.

Lionel Messi

File photo dated 03-10-2018 of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. celebrates scoring his sides third goal

Position: Forward

Age: 33

International apps: 142

Current club: Barcelona

The five-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 70 goals. At club level, Lionel Messi still, of course, represents Barcelona.

Sergio Aguero

Position: Forward

Age: 32

International apps: 97

Current club: Manchester City

A key man for club and country these days. Sergio Aguero has scored an astonishing 256 goals in 379 games for Manchester City in the Premier League and has netted 41 for his country.

Sergio Romero

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 33

International apps: 96

Current club: Manchester United

In the strange position of being his country’s first-choice despite being a backup at club level. Sergio Romero joined Manchester United in 2015 amid uncertainty over David De Gea’s future and then struggled for game-time. However, he did win the Europa League as Jose Mourinho’s cup starter in 2016/17.

Lautaro Acosta

Position: Forward

Age: 32

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: 36

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.

Nicolas Pareja

Position: Centre-back

Age: 36

International apps: 1

Current club: Retired

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

Diego Buonanotte

Position: Left Wing

Age: 32

International apps: 0

Current club: Universidad Catolica

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

Nicolas Navarro

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 35

International apps: 0

Current club: San Lorenzo

After failing to claim the No.1 jersey at Napoli, Nicolas Navarro has bounced from club to club as a reserve goalkeeper and now turns out for San Lorenzo.