Juan Roman Riquelme: My +10 team
"People know what game Argentina play because we have Riquelme. It's a declaration of intent."
The words belong to Jose Pekerman, and it is highly unlikely that any coach at Germany 2006 has built his side around one player quite as unreservedly as Argentina's has around Juan Roman Riquelme .
The 28-year-old's sudden elevation from bit-part player to key man can be attributed almost entirely to Pekerman's appointment in September 2004, prior to which Riquelme had been considered fourth or fifth-choice for the playmaker role by Daniel Passarella and Marcelo Bielsa, both of whom subscribed to a popular view that his lack of pace prevents him from stamping his authority on matches.
Predictably, Pekerman contests this point vigorously. "Some say that Riquelme is slow, but he's not slow when he's in possession," said the man who coached the Villarreal midfielder at youth level. "Anyway, it's the ball that should do the running, not the player."
Certainly, few footballers at this FIFA World Cup could claim to be as adept as Riquelme at letting the ball do the work, with the player himself having outlined his primary responsibility as, "making sure that my team-mates can always find me to give me the ball".
The Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, is certainly a keen admirer of a player whose ability to dictate the tempo of matches is thought by many to be unparalleled. "(Riquelme) is always able to slow the game down, then wait for a weak moment to kill you," was the Frenchman's verdict.
It is fitting, however, that the final word on this graceful, technically gifted and tactically astute midfielder should go to the coach widely agreed to be his number one fan.
"I've seen very few players with Riquelme's capacity to understand the game," says Pekerman. "He's one of those players who are disappearing from the game. Football is producing electrifying players, speed merchants. But it's losing the type of player who really knows what he's doing."
Juan Roman Riquelme's adidas +10 team
I'd probably put Oscar Cordoba in goal, because when I played with him at Boca, he always performed very well. Thanks to him I won a lot of titles, so that's why I'd include him in my team.
The same can be said about Hugo Ibarra, who just seems to play better and better as time goes by. He was one of Boca's main players when we won the Copa Libertadores. He has great spirit, never gives in, and that's what has impressed me most.
At centre-half I'd play Fabricio Coloccini, who's my friend and an amazing player. He was a world youth champion with Argentina under Pekerman, and is one of the best defenders in the Spanish league.
Next to Coloccini, I would have Walter Samuel, because I really like the way he plays. His nickname is the Wall', which says it all really. I would say that is the best nickname you can hope for as a defender.
I would pick Diego Placente for the left-wing position because he is always cool with the ball. He is rarely a spectacular player, but he almost never commits a mistake and is someone you can always rely on.
Fernando Redondo would be the heart of my team. I always admired his quality and his passing ability, and he was maybe the best that I have ever seen in terms of covering the field. The most impressive thing for me was that he didn't do that by running a lot, but rather with his tactical strength and organisation skills.
Pablo Aimar would be my playmaker. What a talent! He is just so elegant and always has a trick up his sleeve to pull out at the right moment. Everybody will see at this World Cup what an amazing player he is - he can make the difference in our team.
I would be in midfield with these guys, and ahead of us would be my strikers: Gabriel Batistuta and Claudio Caniggia. I would have them because it was always really beautiful to see the two of them playing together. Batistuta was the best striker of the 90s, no doubt about that. He came from nowhere and scored goals like no other; I admire him a lot.
Caniggia, on the other hand, was the sort of player who would maybe only appear at some matches, but he had so many spectacular moments. And I will never forget his goal against Brazil at the 1990 World Cup. What a moment for all of us!
I only need one more player to make my perfect team and that would obviously be Diego Maradona. There is only one player who should be in every team, and it's Diego. What he did in Mexico has never been done before, and nobody will come even close to that again. In those few weeks he was better than everyone before him and everyone since.
Take a look back at David Trezeguet's adidas +10 team