“Sebastian Driussi made the difference. Today was his day.” Those aren’t the words of Driussi’s own coach or team-mates, but of Tunisia’s coach Abdelhay Ben Soltane, who had just seen his side slump to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the South American champions in the last 16 of the FIFA U17 World Cup in UAE.
The Africans were put to the sword by Argentina and by Driussi in particular, who scored one goal and set up two more in an outstanding all-round display. “I tried to give my best for the group and it worked very well. The team was the star of the show, I don’t want to be singled out,” a modest Driussi told FIFA.com. “I don’t enjoy talking about myself. I’m a team player and prefer to talk about the collective effort.”
Although football is of course a team game, Driussi’s contribution cannot be ignored. He was at the heart of most of Argentina’s creativity and build-up play throughout the 90 minutes and could even have added to his own goal tally, as coach Humberto Grondona pointed out.
“Today was the first time he’s really come to the fore. He’s a special player, who is very dangerous and very important for the team," the coach said. "Sometimes, you have to be patient with strikers. He is a forward who has the ability to decide games. He's scored an important goal, but could have scored three more. I’m very happy with his performance.”
The extent of Grondona’s influence was revealed by Driussi after of the game. The two had a private meeting ahead of the Tunisia match, in which the coach gave him encouragement and predicted he would find the back of the net.
The penny finally seems to have dropped for Driussi who, despite scoring once in the group stage, had put in some patchy performances earlier on in the tournament. He’ll now be looking to reproduce the form shown during the South American qualifying stage, where his five goals helped Argentina win the continental title.
Personal questions appear to embarrass the young midfield star, though first impressions could be deceptive. His body is covered with 17 different tattoos – most of which have religious themes and are dedicated to his family and friends.
African champions Côte d'Ivoire now await Argentina in the quarter-finals on Saturday 2 November – a major test for the team. “We saw them play in our training camp in Marbella before the tournament and we’ve been able to follow them here, too,” said Driussi. “They are physically very strong. I’m certain it’ll be a good game. Our goal is to win the competition, but we have to fight every inch of the way. If we succeed, our names could go down in Argentinian football history.”