What ever happened to? Claudio Marangoni

Marangoni was one of four Argentinians to play in England
in the early 1980s. Osvaldo Ardiles, Marangoni, Alex Sabella
& Ricardo Villa (left to right).
In 1979 Sunderland AFC signed Argentine midfielder Claudio Marangoni from San Lorenzo for £380,000.

Marangoni who was born on 11 November 1954 was a trainee at local club Rosario Central but never played for the first team. He made his professional debut for Chacarita Juniors in 1974 aged 19 and in 1976 he joined San Lorenzo where he played 135 league games before his move to England.

In the late 1970s Marangoni was courted by Ipswich Town and Chelsea before eventually signing for Sunderland. He only played one season at Roker Park, scoring 3 goals in 20 league games. Marangoni has claimed that he couldn't get along with the man management style of then manager Ken Knighton, who demanded absolute subservience from his players. He also found it hard to adapt to the foreign lifestyle and the different mentality of his team mates. In one example he claimed that he messed about with an unnamed Sunderland team mates' car for a practical joke, but the owner of the car got so angry that he had to be restrained from attacking him for it.

In 1980 he returned to Argentina where he played for San Lorenzo's fiercest rivals Húracan between 1980 and 1981 without much success.

In 1982 he joined Independiente who had not won a trophy since 1978 when their blistering run of successes in the 1970s had come to an end. He fitted straight into the first team alongside great players such as Jorge Burruchara, Enzo Trossero, Ricardo Giusti and Ricardo Bochini (who he regards as the 2nd greatest Aregntine footballer of all time).

Under manager José Pastoriza the team revived their fortunes, finishing as runners up in Metropolitano 1982 behind the Estudiantes de La Plata  team containing Alejandro Sabella who also had a spell in English football with Leeds and Sheffield United. Independiente were again runners up in Nacional 1983, losing to Estudiantes in the final.

They eventually won the Metropolitano championship of 1983 by beating their fierce local rivals Racing Club 2-0 in the last game of the season to clinch the championship one point above Marangoni's former club San Lorenzo and in beating Racing Club they consigned them to relegation for the first time in their history.

In 1984 Marangoni featured in the Independiente team that won their 7th Copa Libertadores championship, a record that stands to this day. this success qualified them to play against Liverpool FC in the intercontinental Cup which was the first meeting between an English and Argentine team since the Falklands War, Independiente felt that they were playing the game on behalf of their nation in what was more than just a sports encounter.

Independiente won the game 1-0 with a goal from José Percudani and after the game the players did not celebrate in the dressing room because they felt it would be disrespectful to all of the dead and injured in the Falklands War to celebrate over a game of football.

Around that time Marangoni had been offered the chance to return to England to play for Southampton. he claims that after the Intercontinental Cup final he told Kenny Dalglish that he was coming back to England and Dalglish told him "Claudio, stay in Argentina at least you have some sunshine there".

it was during this successful period that Marangoni made his 9 appearances for the Argentina national team, he was part of the Copa América 1983 squad however he fell out with manager Carlos Bilardo in 1985 and was not selected for the 1986 World Cup squad.

Marangoni played for Independiente until 1988, making 237 league appearances and scoring 25 league goals for the club.

On 27 August 1988 Marangoni joined Argentine giants Boca Juniors where he was part of the team that won the Supercopa Sudamericana in 1989 to end an 8 year trophy drought at the club, he scored the first goal in their 2-0 win in the semi final against Brazilian side Grêmio, before they beat his former side Independiente on penalties in the final.

In 1990 he was in the Boca Juniors team that won the Recopa Sudamericana. He made 93 appearances for Boca Juniors in all competitions between 1988 and his retirement in 1990, scoring 7 goals.

Throughout his playing career Marangoni pursued other interests, he qualified as a physiotherapist, obtained his coaching qualifications, attended college to learn English and in 1984 he established the Escuela Modelo de Fútbol y Deportes, a sporting academy which he still runs today. 

Marangoni did try his hand at football management with Banfield, but he fell out with the directors because they kept trying to interfere with team affairs. he has since claimed that being a football manager is easier than being the director of 40 football academies, but he doesn't do it because there is no job security in football management. 

In Argetnina Marangoni is considered as a great number 5 (centre half back) what would be called a defensive or holding midfielder in modern parlance. The fact that he has played for three of the big five teams in Argentina (San Lorenzo, Independiente & Boca Juniors), represented the Argentina national team and owns a reasonably large medal collection could be used as supporting evidence.

When asked Marangoni said that the best number 5s he has ever seen were Gérson, Franz Beckenbaur, Fernando Redondo and Roberto Telch. When asked about modern football he avoided the urge to get nostalgic about the past as many other ex-pros would be unable to, saying that modern football is better and that if all the Aregntinians currently playing abroad were to return to Argentina, they would have the best league in the world.

Marangoni is fondly remembered by Argentine football fans, however in England he was selected in 39th position by the Times in their list of the 50 Worst players ever to play in the English top flight. On closer inspection their argument for inclusion is somewhat diminished by their claim that he was a striker with a poor strike rate of 3 goals in 20 games, when he was actually a number 5. A modern equivalent would be trying to argue that Javier Mascherano was Liverpool's worst ever player because 1 goal in 94 league games is a dreadful goalscoring record for a striker.

It is clear from the fact that he only stayed one season, that Marangoni did not settle in English football, however ever since leaving Sunderland in 1980 he has enjoyed success.  These successes show that he was a quality player that just didn't adapt to the English game and lifestyle rather than an absolute flop of the Nicolás Medina calibre.

Part of the What ever happened to? series.

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