Argentine’s strike broke Peruvian hearts in Mexico 1986 qualifying
After taking charge in 2015, he has guided Peru to first World Cup in 36 years
Check out our interactive profile of Los Incas.
Football is a funny game. Players can be hailed as heroes in the blink of an eye if they score a crucial goal, but heroes can just as quickly become villains if they change teams. And vice versa.
Argentinian Ricardo Gareca has experienced just such a role reversal. When he was installed as coach of the Peruvian national team, most local fans took a dim view of his appointment. Indeed, to many, he was considered persona non grata. After all, he was the man whose goal for La Albiceleste had quashed Peru’s dreams of reaching the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™.
But the former forward has won over the naysayers by inspiring a heroic feat, guiding Los Incas back to the global extravaganza after a long exodus. Now he is adored by those who once held a grudge against him.
FIFA.com caught up with the 59-year-old to discuss this turnaround and his excitement ahead of Russia 2018.
On the journey from villain to hero
“I was constantly reminded of that goal as soon as I arrived in Peru, but I never saw it as something I had to make up for. I just did what I had to do as an Argentina player; it was nothing personal. But anyway, we’re through to the World Cup now, so nobody is saying stuff about me owing them any more! I’m being shown unconditional support and a lot of love.