As we keep talking about Lionel Messi for his birthday, we also need to remember that Juan Roman Riquelme also celebrates a new year of life.
The talk of the day has been very one-sided about Lionel Messi’s birthday, but we forget Juan Roman Riquelme turns 41 today.
The Boca Juniors biggest idol was arguably one of the most revered playmakers in football history, he was the man who gave Argentina a specific edge when he played on the pitch.
We honor Roman on his birthday by remembering his golden years in Boca, his attempt to shine in European football, and the great nights he gave us with the Argentina National Team.
But most importantly, we honor one of the last playmakers that this game had to offer.
This breed of a player is currently an endangered species, we only have James Rodriguez left in today’s football.
The playmaker was the man who usually played right behind the strikers and provided sense to the team’s dynamic through his passes, he is the most creative player on the pitch.
The mythical number ’10’ in any squad was reserved for the playmaker, Juan Roman Riquelme wore it with pride both at Boca Juniors and the Argentina National Team before Messi took over the number.
Even though Roman was one of the best players from his generation, people consider he always failed on the biggest stage.
En el día que cumple 41 años, repasamos un poco de la magia de Juan Román Riquelme, amado por los hinchas de Boca pero también respetado por los fanáticos de otros equipos argentinos. pic.twitter.com/JQB2F9enwO
— Diario Olé (@DiarioOle) June 24, 2019
His failed trip to European football.
This happened right before FC Barcelona started a revolution with Ronaldinho Gaucho, Juan Roman Riquelme was considered the ideal replacement for Rivaldo.
In a long line of Brazilian players who dominated the landscape in Barcelona over the previous decade, the Catalan club decided to hire an Argentine for this position.
Juan Roman Riquelme was one of the most coveted players at the time by several clubs, but his short spell in Barcelona lowered the interest from some of the biggest institutions in Europe.
The former Boca Juniors player only played in Barcelona for two complete seasons, he was stripped from his number ’10’ when Ronaldinho arrived and subsequently sold to Villarreal.
Riquelme initially felt that he failed on his attempt to triumph in European football, but his time with the ‘Yellow Submarine’ was very compelling and we can say that we got some of the best Riquelme during that era.
The 2005-06 season gave us Villarreal reaching the UEFA Champions League semifinals with the Riquelme/Forlan duo in full swing.
Roman was the absolute leader of that attack, he made a terrific pair with the Uruguay international but the Argentine failed on his most crucial moment.
That penalty he missed against Arsenal in the semifinal will haunt him for the rest of his life, that was the moment that could’ve crowned him as one of the best players in the world at the time.
Juan Román Riquelme cumple 41 años.
Recordamos al mago argentino en su paso por la #UCL.
— Liga de Campeones (@LigadeCampeones) June 24, 2019
Roman always remained positive with his very particular style of play, even if some managers didn’t like how he moved inside the pitch.
We’ve told the anecdote of manager Louis van Gaal telling Romand that he was the best player in the world when he had the ball, but an irresponsible one when he didn’t.
This was when the player came to FC Barcelona from Boca Juniors, before he moved to Villarreal.
The man decided to go back to Boca after his failed attempt to conquer the world, he kept winning several titles and continued to mesmerize the world for many years.
It’s ironic that the world turned its back on Riquelme when he didn’t succeed in European football, but now craves for his return because they realized what a special player he was.
Certainly, Messi and the Argentina National Team could use a player as creative as Roman.
They lack the talent who controls the midfield as he always did during his career.
It’s not fair that we only celebrate Messi on this day without mentioning Roman, who is also a legend in his own right.
We wish a happy 41 birthday to Juan Roman Riquelme, from all the team at Ronaldo.com.
En el cumpleaños de Román, el regalo es para nuestros seguidores 🎁: un minuto con la magia de Riquelme y la camiseta de la Selección Argentina. ¡Que lo disfruten! 🎩👏👏 pic.twitter.com/YdEWZ16LVN
— Diario Olé (@DiarioOle) June 24, 2019
What’s your fondest memory of Juan Roman Riquelme? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.