Ricardo La Volpe is known is a coach who has left his mark everywhere he has worked. With his self-assuredness and trademark acerbity, whenever Bigotón (a reference to his bushy moustache, bigote in Spanish) speaks, fans, players and the media all sit up and listen. He has formed lasting friendships as well as long-standing rivalries, and both friend and foe will agree that he is certainly a divisive character.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1952, he enjoyed a distinguished career as a goalkeeper and was part of the Albiceleste squad that won the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina™. Most of his career, however, has been spent in Mexico where, after 20 years at the helm of numerous club sides, he was appointed national team coach in 2002. His tenure culminated with El Tri's qualification for Germany 2006, where they narrowly lost to Argentina in the Round of 16.
He then returned home for spells in charge of Boca Juniors and Velez Sarsfield, before going back to Mexico for his second stint as coach of his beloved Atlas. A man with a gift for nurturing talent both on and off the field, and an obsession for the tactical side of the beautiful game, La Volpe has left us with many memorable quotes over the years, a selection of which FIFA.com has assembled below.
"Playing 4-4-1-1 is not football, it's anti-football."
La Volpe defending his preferred 3-5-2 formation
"A failure? Would Boca Juniors, the top club side in Argentina, go out and appoint a failure? When I open my CV, I can proudly show my grandson that I've managed Boca and successfully coached the Mexican national team - the latter for four consecutive years, something no-one else has managed since the 1960s."
La Volpe on his career
"If we'd lost today, they'd have had to airlift me from the stadium in a helicopter."
La Volpe on the pressure-cooker environment at Boca Juniors
"I can understand that players may be angry when substituted, but I think that it shows a lack of respect for their team-mates on the bench. Otherwise, just put 11 players on the pitch and get rid of substitutions altogether."
La Volpe on player temperament
"Do you guys have wives or girlfriends? If so, you have to love them and treat them well, and the same goes for the ball."
La Volpe on love for the ball
"Atlas fans don't want any more excuses - they want a league title."
La Volpe calling for his current squad to be strengthened
"My teams must not be built around a single player. This is football, not tennis."
La Volpe on his reluctance to use a playmaker
"Go out to win, and you'll either win or draw. Go out to draw, and you'll either draw or lose."
La Volpe on his attacking philosophy
"We'll qualify for the World Cup at a stroll."
La Volpe's promise upon taking charge of the Mexican national side, which he duly kept
"Why couldn't we beat them? Because they won 1-0."
La Volpe displaying irrefutable footballing logic
"I'll never criticise my players. Never. If I ever find myself doing it, I'll take up baseball. I analyse whether the team played well or badly, but I don't talk about my players."
La Volpe on team spirit
"Despite the defeat (having lost 2-1 to Argentina at Germany 2006) Mexico played ten times better than Argentina - and those aren't my words, that's what Cruyff said."
La Volpe deferring to one of football's greats
"I'm sorry if the press doesn't want to discuss tactics, but I'm here to talk football, not nonsense."
La Volpe on his unique relationship with the press