One of the most surprising things about this tournament so far has been the off the field reaction to the Argentines and Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi in particular. Both young players have attracted attention worthy of pop idols or film stars.
Only one has played any football in Latin America and both are youngsters in a squad laden with guys who have more experience and more winners medals. Certainly, neither has movie star looks.
But wherever the Argentine team goes, fans cry out “Messeee!” and “Carlitos” or “Apache!” Tevez’s nickname here. (It comes from the Buenos Aires barrio he grew up in, which was so rough it was called Fort Apache.)
Tevez has been by far the most responsive and has put many of those more experienced team mates to shame.
After a light training session this Friday evening, the Argentina squad posed for photos with a group of kids with cancer. When they left the pitch they had to walk by scores of fans who had trecked out Union Maracaibo’s training ground to see them. Most passed them by with barely a smile.
Tevez, however, stopped and signed dozens of autographs. Perhaps embarrassed, some of the players trailing him (Cambiasso, Veron) followed suit. Messi, the last out of the ground, was escorted away by soldiers. He stopped for one photo near the door of the bus.