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Juan Sebastián Verón (born 9 March 1975 in La Platamarker) is an Argentinemarker professional football player who currently plays as a midfielder for Estudiantes de La Plata in the Argentine first division, of which he is captain.

Verón's career started in Estudiantes, continued in Argentina's Boca Juniors, and included stints in several Serie A clubs (he won the Scudetto with Lazio and with Internazionale, and a UEFA Cup with Parma), and Englandmarker's Manchester United and Chelsea. In 2006, Verón returned to Estudiantes, where he currently serves as the team captain.

In 2004, he was chosen for the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé as part of FIFA's centenary observances. Verón has both Argentine and Italian citizenship.

His nickname is La Brujita (Little Witch), a nod to his father Juan Ramón, who was known as La Bruja (The Witch) and was also a championship winning player with Estudiantes.

Usually a playmaker, Verón is most famous for his vision and perceptive passing. He compensates his limited physical speed with his considerable experience and field vision. He is also known for his powerful long shot and his set pieces.

Biography

Juan Sebastián Verón is the firstborn son of former Argentina striker Juan Ramón Verón, who scored against Manchester United in the 1968 World Club Championship at Old Traffordmarker for Estudiantes. He was born the day his father played a derby for Estudiantes against cross-town rivals Gimnasia y Esgrima. As a boy, Verón dreamed of playing for English club Sheffield United, as his uncle, Pedro Verde, played for the club at the time. When he started to play professionally, his father tried to have Panathinaikos, one of his former clubs, sign him. However, after a short trial spell with them, they finally decided he just wasn't good enough for their team. After his transfer to Manchester United, Verón said, "So there I was hoping to play for Sheffield United and here I am at Manchester United!"

In 1993, Verón signed for Estudiantes de La Plata, and helped the team win return from relegation to the Argentine premiership in 1995. In 1996, he joined Boca Juniors, playing 17 games and scoring three goals, alongside Diego Maradona. He made his international debut for Argentina, against Poland, in the same year. Sven-Göran Eriksson signed him for Sampdoria shortly afterwards.

Italian triumphs

In 1998, after playing for Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, he signed for Parma in a £15 million deal. The following year, Parma won the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. Eriksson then signed him again, this time for Lazio in an £18.1 million deal, with Verón reportedly netting a weekly wage of £48,000. He made his debut for Lazio in the Italian side's 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the European Super Cup in Monacomarker.

In 2000, Verón was the driving force for Lazio as they captured the Scudetto, the Italian Cup, and the Italian Super Cup. But in February the following year, rumours about the validity of his passport caught up with him. After the 2001 season, he moved from Lazio to Manchester United on 12 July for £28.1 million in a five-year deal, the most expensive transfer in English football at that time. Upon signing for Manchester United, he said he had no fear of the Premiership.

Spell in England

There was plenty of pressure on him at the start of his second season at Old Trafford, and his performances did seem to improve considerably, especially in the Champions League, where he scored four goals and was at the heart of United's successes in the group stages. However, injury meant that he missed much of the end of the season. Questions over his performance led to an expletive laden tirade against the media by manager Alex Ferguson in support of Veron: "...On you go. I'm not fucking talking to you. He's a fucking great player. You are all fucking idiots."

When Chelsea came in for him following the arrival of Roman Abramovich, Verón claimed that he wanted to stay and fight for his place at Old Trafford, but Ferguson was willing to let Chelsea talk to him, and he was eventually convinced by then Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri that his future lay at Stamford Bridgemarker, where he had much to prove. His transfer fee to Chelsea was about half that of his record-breaking transfer of just two years before.

Verón made an excellent start to his Chelsea career by scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 victory away at Liverpool, but he fell away as the 2003-04 season progressed and made only 14 appearances for Chelsea.

The Times listed Verón's transfers to Manchester United and Chelsea amongst the 50 worst transfers ever in Premiership history. His several big-money transfers made Verón the most expensive footballer in history with a cumulative total of £77 million (this was surpassed when Nicolas Anelka went to Chelsea in 2008 taking his tally to £85 million, and then again by Cristiano Ronaldo's £80 million move to Real Madrid, taking his total transfer fees to £92.24 million in just two transfers)

Second Italian tour

When Roberto Mancini took over as manager following the season, Verón was loaned out to Internazionale for the 2004-05 season, and from 24 June 2005, he subsequently returned to Inter on loan for a further two seasons. With Inter, he won the 2005 and 2006 Italian Cup, and also won the 2006 Serie A title after Juventus were stripped of the title for a match fixing scandal.

Returning home

In mid-2006, Verón made it known that he wished to return to Argentina for the 2006-2007 season. He received offers from Boca Juniors and River Plate, but chose to return to boyhood club Estudiantes de La Plata, of whom he is a declared fan (he has made significant donations in the past to upgrade the club training facilities). Chelsea agreed to loan Verón to Estudiantes for a season, until the end of his contract with the English club. On 13 December 2006, he helped Estudiantes win the Apertura 2006 tournament, its first in 23 years, in a final playoff match final over Boca Juniors.

Some rival fans booed him, arguably over his sub-par performances during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but Verón was ranked among the top three players in the 2006 Argentine League by sports newspaper Olé.

After his donations to the training grounds, Verón was a decisive factor in the agreement with the La Plata city hall to rebuild Estudiantes' historic stadium to modern standards. Verón personally engaged Argentine then-president Néstor Kirchner to kick-start the negotiations, which had been stalled by La Plata mayor Julio Alak. Verón has indicated that he may run for the presidency of Estudiantes in the future.

Verón suffered from a string of minor injuries after his return from the 2007 Copa América, and missed an important number of games during the 2007-08 season. His health has improved in time for the 2008-09 season, where Estudiantes reached the finals of the Copa Sudamericana and secured a spot in the 2009 edition of the Copa Libertadores.

In July 2007, Kevin Payne, president of Major League Soccer club D.C. United, met with Verón in Buenos Airesmarker to discuss a possible transfer, but Verón decided to stay in Estudiantes.

In early 2008, several football personalities chose Verón as the best player in the Argentine league. In December 2008, Verón was elected South American Footballer of the Year by Uruguayanmarker diary El País, a title that is cited worldwide.

In 2009, he participated in the Copa Libertadores for the second time (after seeing his Estudiantes eliminated in the round of 16 the previous year to eventual champions Liga de Quito). After displaying his usual excellent level of play throughout the tournament, he found himself leading Estudiantes into the final for the first time since 1971. The Copa Libertadores has long been the most special competition for Estudiantes and its fans, ever since the team won three consecutive championships from 1968-1970 (with Verón's father as a star atleft wing). Verón certainly shared this affinity for the most prestigious title in the Americas, as evidenced by his declaration before the final: "I would trade everything I've won for this title." His dream came true as Estudiantes won the final, 0-0 in La Plata and 2-1 in Belo Horizonte against Brazilmarker's Cruzeiromarker. Verón was chosen by visitors to fifa.com as the best player of the 2009 Copa Libertadores.

Argentine national team

Verón was summoned for the 1998 FIFA World Cup held in Francemarker, where the team was eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarter-final stage. A rumor (never confirmed) that Verón had failed an internal doping control, and allegations of insufficient effort, hampered his relationship with the media and fans. He was called again to participate in the 2002 World Cup in Koreamarker/Japanmarker, where some saw Verón as the team's key player, and made him personally responsible for Argentina's dismal performance, which included a loss to England and elimination in the groups phase.

On 28 February 2007, national coach Alfio Basile called Verón again to the national team, based on his performance in Estudiantes's 2006 championship team. Verón was a starter in the Argentine team that reached the final of Copa América 2007. Because of injuries, and Estudiantes's busy schedule, Verón is not featured in the immediate plans of national coach Diego Maradona. He has, however, recently been recalled into the Argentine national squad, featuring as a second half substitute in the 4-0 win over Venezuela on 28 March 2009 (Maradona's first competitive game in charge of the national team), and playing in the starting XI in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Colombia on 6 June 2009.

Career statistics



Honours

Domestic


South American


European


Individual



References

  1. La Brujita nació en un clásico
  2. The 50 worst transfers | Football - Times Online
  3. Ole
  4. Ole
  5. Ole
  6. corrieredellosport.it
  7. Ole
  8. fifa.com


External links



1994-95 Estudiantes La Plata Primera B Nacional 7 0
1995-96 Primera División 15 2
1995-96 Boca Juniors Primera División 17 3

1996-97 Sampdoria Serie A 32 5
1997-98 29 2
1998-99 Parma Serie A 26 1
1999-00 Lazio Serie A 31 8
2000-01 22 3

2001-02 Manchester United Premier League 26 5
2002-03 25 2
2003-04 Chelsea Premier League 7 1

2004-05 Internazionale Serie A 24 3
2005-06 25 0

2006-07 Estudiantes La Plata Primera División 30 2
2007-08 18 7 8 2
2008-09 9 3 10 1
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