Javier Mascherano – the last great Argentine hero (Juan D'Angelo, 2/22/15, Backpage Football)
Silent hero, a born leader, the mood engine of the team. These are just a few adjectives that the press has been used to qualify Javier throughout his career.
Surely Marcelo Bielsa saw what Almeyda did at the time, because in June 2003, and before Mascherano had even played a single game as a professional for his club River Plate, the “Jefecito” debuted internationally for Argentina in a friendly against his Uruguayan counterparts.
From that moment, Javier built a career worthy of a legend. From his first steps in River Plate up to these days in Barcelona, where he is a fundamental part of one of the best teams in history, “Masche” turned into a leader and a reference for his teammates.
One of its early discoverers, the Argentine coach Jorge Solari, said that,when he saw Javier in action during a match played in the small town of San Lorenzo (the hometown of a Mascherano) he was surprised by the commanding voice of that young boy.
The leadership shown by Mascherano is not based on intimidation and fear, as it was with Vinnie Jones and the “Crazy Gang” of Wimbledon. The Argentine midfielder is the example of everything good that should be a professional football player.
Javier gives everything in every workout, play every game like a final, is correct to the press without being condescending and, most importantly, knows when he should be a leading player and when it should remain in the background.
...is the defensive midfielder who's so aggressive he's always one second away from a red card. If Arsenal had such a player they'd have won some titles the past few years.