After launching his career with the great Monaco team of the late 90s, spending a decade wearing the famous Juventus shirt and completing a brief spell in Spain, David Trezeguet “retired” in the twilight of his career to the green pastures of the Arabian Gulf, where many stars brought their playing days to a winding, lucrative close. While the money was great, Trezeguet was uninspired by the Abu Dhabi football life and made only a handful of appearances since August. So when the chance to play for the club he supported passionately as a child, at a fraction of the Arab money, Trezeguet jumped without hesitation.
Trezeguet’s injury concerns have miraculously disappeared as he passed a physical and signed a three-year deal. He is so spellbound he felt compelled to compare the act of joining River to winning the World Cup with France or collecting titles with Juventus and Monaco. “For me football is passion and I wasn’t getting that in Arabian football … What better place to experience that than here?” he enthused. “Being here is a unique feeling, motivated by everything that River represents.”
Trezeguet is the latest player with Argentinian roots who has cut short a career overseas to join the cause of the River revival. Fernando Cavenaghi, who had won the league with Bordeaux, and Alejandro Domínguez, who earned titles with Zenit St Petersburg and Rubin Kazan in Russia, also mounted metaphorical white horses to ride all the way back to Buenos Aires. Another, Leo Ponzio, rescinded his contract with Real Zaragoza in Spain to rejoin River. All took a lot less money to return to their spiritual home.
River is on a mission to recover from the horror of last season’s relegation. They are currently second in Argentina’s Primera B Nacional, and the arrival of experienced players who know what it takes to be in a winning team is a fantastic boost when River need it most. At a time when most players haggle over this many thousands and that many millions to finalize moves, thank goodness for the few who turn their back on the bucks to chase rewards of a purer kind.
Trezeguet is a particularly influential person to bring into this situation as he went through the decline and renaissance of Juventus, the Serie A club where he spent a decade. Notably, players such as Gianluigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved and Alessandro Del Piero all stuck around when Juve were demoted to Serie B, and their guidance was crucial in helping along the young players who came into a strange situation. “Our shirt represents a history and the Juventus youngsters understood that,” Trezeguet said. “River is going through a very difficult time … I want to be part of the history [of their recovery].”
Although Trezeguet may be known for his achievements in the blue shirt of France, with whom he won the 1998 World Cup and cracked in the goal to claim the 2000 European Championship, he has always maintained a strong connection with his Argentinian roots. He was born in Rouen, where his father, Jorge, played for three seasons in the 1970s. But Trezeguet spent most of his youth in Argentina, before heading back to France in his teens to further his career. Who knew?
Trezeguet has followed his heart to River, an inspiring move in an ever more commercial world. Carlos Tevez talks about dreaming of returning to Boca. Scores of Brazilians have repatriated, including Ronaldinho, Luis Fabiano, Wagner Love and Adriano. This is a wonderful development for the Brazilian and Argentine championships. In his first ever game for River Plate, David Trezeguet came on as a sub with 20 minutes left and scored a wonderful goal against Racing. A dream start to his dream come true.