Happy re­tire­ment, Mar­tin

At the highly suc­cess­ful ca­reer IAN McFARLANE looks back Mar­tin Demiche­lis of for­mer Manch­ester City de­fender

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - PROFILE -

HE HUNG up his boots at the end of the sea­son and, in my opin­ion, Mar­tin Demiche­lis was one of the most un­der­rated de­fen­sive lynch­pins in re­cent history.

Born on De­cem­ber 20, 1980 in Cor­doba, Ar­gentina, he started out at Com­plejo De­portivo and Club Re­nato Ces­sarini be­fore one of the coun­try’s big-hit­ters, River Plate, came calling.

He cut his teeth in the youth set-up un­til be­ing looked upon as good enough to be called up to the first team.

He was part of the squad which won the Ar­gen­tine Primera Di­vi­sion on two oc­ca­sions – in 2002 and 2003.

In his time with ‘Los Mil­lonar­ios’, he scored his only league goal against Rosario Cen­tral, but, more im­por­tantly, showed thor­ough aware­ness, game-read­ing and de­fen­sive nous far beyond his years.

This was also the first of three chap­ters work­ing un­der the Chilean coach Manuel Pel­le­grini.

Next, he was snapped up by the Ger­man gi­ants Bay­ern Mu­nich for a fee of around € 4.5 mil­lion. This would be the most suc­cess­ful and tro­phy-laden pe­riod of his ca­reer.

In the pe­riod span­ning 2003-2010, Demiche­lis would play along­side world-class tal­ent such as Michael Bal­lack and the Brazil­lian Ze Roberto (who placed Demiche­lis in his favoured XI of play­ers he has played with, high praise in­deed).

He won a to­tal of 11 hon­ours with Bay­ern and also fin­ished a Cham­pi­ons League run­ner-up in 2009/10.

At Bay­ern, Demiche­lis had suc­cess un­der Felix Ma­gath be­fore Ottmar Hitz­field turned him from a de­fen­sive mid­fielder into a cen­tral de­fender, a move which paid div­i­dends.

Things turned frosty for him at Bay­ern once Louis van Gaal took over and it be­came in­evitable he would move on.

Pel­le­grini was ea­ger to work with Demiche­lis again and brought him to La Liga’s Malaga. In his time there, the de­fender helped his new side sur­vive rel­e­ga­tion and then fin­ish high enough to con­test Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball for the first time.

Talk­ing of firsts, Demiche­lis would also score Malaga's first Cham­pi­ons League goal with a trade­mark header in their 2-0 win over Panathi­naikos in the play-off round.

Af­ter a move to Atletico Madrid on a free turned sour, Demiche­lis linked up with Pel­le­grini for a third time at Manch­ester City.

A vis­i­bly rusty Demiche­lis made a shaky start to his time in Manch­ester af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury.

He was guilty of a num­ber of er­rors, which in­cluded giv­ing away a penalty and re­ceiv­ing a red card for bring­ing down his com­pa­triot Lionel Messi in City’s 20 home de­feat to Barcelona.

How­ever, March 15, 2014, was the turn­ing point. Af­ter fel­low cen­tre-half Vin­cent Kom­pany’s early dis­missal in the game at Hull City, Demiche­lis led the de­fence and the team in gen­eral by the scruff of the neck, putting in a man of the match dis­play in a 2-0 win with his de­fen­sive know-how.

The up­turn in his for­tunes was one of the main rea­sons City pipped Liver­pool to the Premier League crown and led to a call-up to Ar­gentina's squad for the World Cup in the sum­mer of 2014. His dis­plays for City dipped in the 2015-16 sea­son and it was no ma­jor sur­prise that, like Pel­legini, he moved on. An­other spell in La Liga would fol­low, firstly with Es­panyol and then lat­terly at Malaga, be­fore the de­fender de­cided it was time to call it a day in May at the age of 36. Aside from a suc­cess­ful club ca­reer, Demiche­lis also en­joyed a fruit­ful time on the in­ter­na­tional scene, amass­ing 51 caps and scor­ing two goals for his beloved Ar­gentina. His first goal came in a friendly against Aus­tralia in 2007, the other a for­tu­itous rasper against the Greeks in the group stage of World Cup 2010 in South Africa. In 2014, he played for Ar­gentina against Ger­many in the World Cup fi­nal in Brazil, but had to set­tle for a run­ners-up medal af­ter Mario Gotze’s ex­tra­time win­ner. Af­ter mak­ing 548 ap­pear­ances and net­ting 31 times for his var­i­ous clubs over the years and with his afore­men­tioned in­ter­na­tional hon­ours, no one can be­grudge Demiche­lis de­cid­ing to call it day. Yes, he’s had crit­i­cism from the pun­dits over the years, but most of them can fit their medals in their trouser pock­ets – Demiche­lis needs a ware­house to house his. It has been a plea­sure fol­low­ing his dec­o­rated and en­ter­tain­ing ca­reer.

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