Javier Pinola’s retirement: from having a stand in Germany to choosing River over Boca with his heart, the end point of a silent leader

Posted 2022/11/14 30 0

When Javier Pinola returned to Argentine soccer, in Rosario Central, he set the course because he not only left everything on the field, but because after each game he continued to enter. Yes, it was common to see him running around the stadium where the Scoundrel appeared, a culture that he incorporated in Germany and that he brought from the Old Continent. Time flew. The most winning cycle in millionaire history began in mid-2014 and ended this Sunday, with the last game led by the Doll on the River bank against Betis, in Mendoza. The closing was perfect, with a 4-0 win. But the meeting also had a peculiarity: it marked the retirement of Pinola, who at 39 decided to put an end to his football career to join the coaching staff of Martín Demichelis? That is yet to be confirmed.

“I told my family and teammates and the coach. Today will be the last game of my career. Thank everyone who joined me. They are tears of joy and pride for the beautiful career I did. I enjoyed it a lot, in my own way, concentrating to give my best. Until here I arrived with 39 years. I made the decision in the last few days, I had to be sure, no one influenced my decision, ”he said minutes before the game in statements to ESPN and very excited.

And he added: “It’s almost 22 years of career that fly by, that’s why I tell the boys on campus to enjoy every moment. I leave happy, I achieved more things than one imagines, I am grateful. River demands a lot from you and you have to live up to it. Enjoy this last game, let it be with joy. What’s coming? We’ll talk about it…, today is the time to enjoy this game, ”he explained, leaving the door open to continue being linked to the Millionaire, but from another place.

He was always a thinking player and no decision was made in a hurry. He had arrived at River in 2017, when he was also wanted by Boca. In fact, the first who called him had been Guillermo Barros Schelotto (DT xeneize), who was looking for a high-ranking left-handed central defender to reinforce the team. In recent times he did not play often, but he still fulfilled the team role that Gallardo had assigned him and spared no effort. The decision to choose River before Boca at the time? Partly because of his millionaire heart and partly because he wanted to be directed by Marcelo Gallardo. “Only my closest ones know what I felt for River since I was a child and that they have accompanied me in this last stretch, in this dream, is priceless. I take with me the affection of all my teammates, with whom I have learned a lot, ”he said this Sunday.

He won eight titles with River: Copa Argentina 2017, Supercopa Argentina 2017, Libertadores 2018, Recopa 2019, Copa Argentina 2019, Supercopa Argentina 2019, the Professional League 2021 and the Champions Trophy 2021.

Since the game, he captured Gallardo’s attention for being timer for defender hand in hand, for his good technique to break lines with a filtered pass (as in a goal by Pity Martínez against Banfield) and his versatility to also play as a left back. The aerial game was always a virtue that he promoted, to attack and defend. His personality went to the rhythm of each intervention.

Pinola, in the photo of the River champion of the Libertadores 2018 in Madrid
Pinola, in the photo of the River champion of the Libertadores 2018 in MadridAFP

For Gallardo, the referents were always an indispensable group, although they did not always play. It is more: until they did not integrate the bank of substitutes. It happened to Pinola, for example, beyond injuries. That was when Gallardo said a few weeks ago: “Committing to the team when you’re not playing is the most difficult thing. Maintaining that human quality for the benefit of the team speaks highly of them and that is something to highlight. The most difficult thing in football is managing the egos of the players and yet we have sustained ourselves with a very clear message and with a very marked human quality in that of competing, competing and competing”. So what Pinola played just 12 games during 2022. And in 2021 he had also had setbacks, such as the fracture in his right arm that took him away from the courts for two months. But he always looked forward and thought positively, without resting on the 8 titles won at the Monumental.

Javier Pinola announced this Sunday his retirement from professional football at the age of 39
Javier Pinola announced this Sunday his retirement from professional football at the age of 39Mauro Alfieri – THE NACION

On February 28, 2021, against Platense in Vicente López, he had suffered a very hard fall which caused a fracture in his right forearm. Due to this, on March 2 he underwent surgery by doctor Pedro Hansing and was unable to play again during the semester. On July 7, the central defender had renewed his contract until December 31, 2021.

When everything seemed to be on track, he was only able to play two games: he started in the 2-1 loss against Colón –in the debut of the tournament at the Monumental– and also in the 2-1 defeat with Godoy Cruz in Mendoza, the night of the injury . That August 9, he suffered a fracture in the distal end of the right ulna without displacement and until September 28 he remained with the area immobilized, without the use of a cast. But again he came back.

Javier Pinola, always one of the first when it comes to training, at the head of the squad on campus
Javier Pinola, always one of the first when it comes to training, at the head of the squad on campusriver press

“I find motivation in football because I am passionate about it and I like it. I love sharing this challenge and this adventure of competing with colleagues and friends. I want to go for more achievements, to continue helping the youngest on this path”, recognized Pinola at the time. “After the injury against Platense it never crossed my mind to retire. On the contrary, it was a nice personal challenge: recover and help my teammates again. You can’t quit and end your career like that. After 20 years you have to know how to retire on time but not just like that, but give it a nice closure. That’s why I don’t set deadlines, although I prepare for the future”, He said.

Maidana and Pinola formed a more than reliable couple in millionaire history, reaching its peak in the final won against Boca in Madrid, for the 2018 Copa Libertadores. Pinola always had a vision of DT, he liked to analyze the games after playing them, their levels but in the context of the team, the decisions that their coaches were making. In Nuremberg he was also a permanent source for Michael Oenning in 2008. With Chacho Coudet they also threw walls over soccer schemes and searches.

When Leonardo Ponzio retired from professional activity and left the WhatsApp group that he integrated together with the River squad, he delegated the administration of it to Javier Pinola. That was in December 2021, when the winning group formed by Marcelo Gallardo was preparing for what would be the last transition. A new transfer of responsibilities will occur in the campus group: Enzo Perez? maiden? Armani? The truth is that, beyond Gallardo’s farewell, with Pinola a footballer who always tried to lead by example retires and that leaves a legacy not only from his sports performances and the titles won, but also in his role behind the scenes of the locker roomin what he could advise each youth who shared a training.

Last March, after Boca’s 1-0 victory over River at the Monumental, Pinola passed a xeneize fan on the street. “Just recently my youngest brother who is disabled, he crossed to Pinola through San Isidro and told him, we beat you. Javier smiled and said congratulations kid, sometimes you have to lose and patted him on the back. From now on, Pinola drops a thousand points on me, great guy, ”Julio Cronopiano wrote on his twitter account at the time, a reference published by La Página Millonaria. Knowing how to lose (and of a soccer player who had several joys), another gesture that he had as a professional.

Played in six teams. He came from Chacarita, continued at Atlético de Madrid, Racing, Nuremberg and Rosario Central before landing at River. He was made from below and always sought to progress. He made his debut for the Argentine national team in a friendly match, on 5/6/2007, at the Camp Nou, against Algeria, with a 4-3 win.

Javier Pinola was recognized in Nuremberg when he turned 400 games
Javier Pinola was recognized in Nuremberg when he turned 400 gamesFile, Archive

It is not easy to stay in German football for ten years if a footballer is not a professional. Javier Pinola left a mark in Nuremberg in Germany. He was one of the great references, to the point that in 2015, in recognition of his career, a grandstand at the Grundig Stadion, the club’s stadium, bears his name. The event was held prior to the match that Nuremberg played against Hertha Berlin for the German Cup. The then Rosario Central defender was 32 years old, He played in Nuremberg between 2005 and 2015, participated in 416 games -including friendly matches- and scored 22 goals.

Pinola had come to the German institution from Racing and contributed to the team winning a Cup in 2007 and achieving promotion to the Bundesliga in 2009. Everything happened, furthermore, since the statute of FC Nüremberg establishes that a player can have his place in the stadium as long as he has performed in a minimum of 400 games. One of the many traces that Pinola left in his career.

Javier Pinola against Luca Langoni, in one of the last crosses between River and Boca
Javier Pinola against Luca Langoni, in one of the last crosses between River and BocaAnibal Greco – The Nation

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