The 2010 World Cup will go down in history as the first World Cup in Africa.
For several reasons, it was Spain’s first World Cup triumph thanks to Andrés Iniesta’s winning goal in the final – and because it was the World Cup where Diego Armando Maradona led Argentina’s national team.
Diego’s 23-man squad included Carlos Tévez.
‘El Apache’ played the second World Cup of his career and first as a city player after joining in the summer of 2009.
City contributed seven players to the African event, the most to date, and later surpassed them in Brazil 2014 (10), Russia 2018 (16) and the current World Cup in Qatar (16).
Gareth Barry and Shaun Wright-Phillips represented England, Nigel De Jong finished runners-up with the Netherlands, Roque Santa Cruz led Paraguay to the quarter-finals where they were beaten by champions Spain and Kolo Touré would command the Ivory Coast defence.
In 2010, Argentina relied on the mysticism of Maradona to achieve their dream of a third world title.
The perennial Argentine ’10’ had taken Alfio Basile’s place in 2008 after losing to Chile in the South American qualifiers.
Diego took charge of an Argentine team that, alongside Tévez, also featured Leo Messi, future City legend Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, Juan Sebastián Verón and Ángel Di María.
Maradona made his managerial debut in a 1-0 win over Scotland and even defeated France in a friendly.
But Argentina also suffered a historic 6-1 defeat by Bolivia.
The Albiceleste only booked their ticket to South Africa with their last two agonizing wins in group qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay.
On African soil, Argentina progressed through the group stage by beating Nigeria (1-0), South Korea (4-1) and Greece (2-0), with Tévez appearing in two of the three games.
Carlitos was the captain in the 3-1 win over Mexico in the quarter-finals, scoring twice, with Gonzalo Higuaín also scoring.
But Argentina would stumble again against Germany in the quarterfinals, just like they did four years ago.
The Germans shattered Argentina’s dream with a stunning 4-0 victory.
Diego Maradona would never sit on the Albiceleste bench again, with his 25 games resulting in 18 wins and seven losses.
“I was chosen by Diego and what I like the most is that he chose me from start to finish,” commented Carlos after Maradona’s death in 2020.
Both also shared their love for Boca Juniors.
“We were with him all nights at the World Cup, he came into my room and we had an incredible time.
“I could write a book about him, the relationship grew stronger.
“I had a lot of faith in him, I spent every day with Diego and six hours more alone, drinking matés (Argentinian tea) and talking.
“For me he was like my second father.”
Argentina are aiming for a place in the round of 16 on Wednesday night, but only have to beat Poland in their final group game.
If they do, more memories and stories from Diego Maradona will likely surface.
After all, the World Cup was always his stage…