Nicolas Otamendi is one of the players in Diego Maradona’s squad at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ still plying his trade in Argentinian football. A product of the youth system at Velez Sarsfield, the centre-back earned rave reviews from fans and pundits alike after just a handful of first-team appearances thanks to his strength of character and steely man-marking.
Born in 1988, two years after Maradona inspired his country to victory at Mexico 1986, Otamendi is currently one of the most promising defenders on the Argentinian scene. Already boasting a league winner’s medal with Velez from the 2009 Clausura, he was also selected in that year’s South American all-star XI by respected Uruguayan paper El País.
A self-confessed admirer of former Albiceleste defensive stalwart Roberto Ayala, ex-amateur boxer Otamendi stands out thanks to his physical strength and ability to snuff out gaps in the backline. Already rumoured to be on the shopping list of several European giants, solid displays at South Africa 2010 would only enhance his value on the transfer market.
On senior national team duty, he made his competitive debut in a 2-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeat at altitude against Ecuador and kept his place in the Albiceleste’s following qualifier: a 3-1 home reverse at the hands of Brazil. Out of the picture for the next two qualifiers, Otamendi reclaimed his place in defence for the vital clash against Uruguay in Montevideo where, despite being deployed in an unfamiliar right-sided role, he helped his team to a clean sheet in the 1-0 win which sealed automatic qualification.