An anonymous fan took out a page of personal ads in the Buenos Aires daily Clarin on Tuesday in an unusual appeal for Peru’s Argentine-born manager Ricardo Gareca to stay in the job.
Gareca, who is currently at home in Argentina on holiday, led Peru to their first World Cup in 36 years at the Russia 2018 finals and is hugely popular in the Andean nation.
However, he has not yet decided whether to remain in charge or seek a new challenge and the passionate Peru fan took to the small ads in a bid to convince the 60-year-old manager to stay on and lead the team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“GARECA, come home to PERU 32 million unconditional (fans) are waiting for you to take us to QATAR/Don’t think about it/RETURN/#Garecareturn,” said the small ads, which numbered close to 100 and covered almost a whole page at the back of the paper.
The newspaper said the unnamed fan paid $1,130 to buy the space in the classifieds section.
Gareca, who took over the Peru job in 2015, said that friends had sent him photos of the page and he was “very thankful for the affection shown.
Gareca has been offered a new contract to lead Peru in the World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 finals and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Argentina national team job after Jorge Sampaoli stepped down this month.
Peru went out of the World Cup after finishing third in the group stage following 0-1 defeats by eventual champions France and Denmark, before a 2-0 win over Australia in their final game.
Peruvians are desperately trying to convince Gareca to remain as the coach and are going to extremes to show their devotion.
According to a report on remezcla.com, recently the district of San Miguel in the east of Peru’s capital Lima unveiled a statue of Gareca and Peru’s other soccer hero, Paolo Guerrero, as the centrepiece of a park. The coach and his players are depicted standing as Gareca points to an imaginary soccer field in the horizon.
Some Peruvians have opted more direct appeals to Gareca. The report says that a fan identified as Maru wrote an email to an Argentine radio station to request a song for a very special someone. The DJ read it on air without realizing it was for Gareca until it was too late.
“I’m writing from Peru. I want to request a song for the man of my life. His name is Ricardo and he has asked me for time to think things through. The song I’m requesting is “Vuelve” by Ricky Martin and it’s for Ricardo “El Tigre: Gareca.”
The DJ, chuckling, granted the request and added: “How sweet that they value our Argentines, sometimes we don’t value our own. Let’s hope he’s listening. You never know.”
According to an espn.in report, Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia is reportedly in no hurry to name the country’s fourth coach in four years. Gareca, 60, recently said guiding Argentina would be “alluring to anyone.”
Tapia’s preferred choice is Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino. Pochettino, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and River Plate’s Marcelo Gallardo have been linked to the position in recent weeks.