Alejandro Sabella

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Alejandro Sabella
Sabella during his run as coach of
Estudiantes de La Plata in 2009.
Personal information
Full name Alejandro Sabella
Date of birth (1954-11-05) 5 November 1954 (age 59)
Place of birth Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Midfielder (retired)
Club information
Current club Argentina (head coach)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1974–1978 River Plate 117 (11)
1978–1980 Sheffield United 76 (8)
1980–1981 Leeds United 23 (2)
1982–1987 Estudiantes 149 (10)
1985 Grêmio (loan) 10 (0)
1987–1988 Ferro Carril Oeste 27 (2)
1988–1989 Irapuato 31 (0)
Total 433 (33)
National team
1983 Argentina 8 (0)
Teams managed
2009–2011 Estudiantes
2011– Argentina
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Alejandro Sabella (locally: [saˈβela]; born 5 November 1954) is an Argentine football manager and former player. He is currently the coach of the Argentina national football team.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Sabella rose through the junior divisions of River Plate in the early 1970s, when his position of attacking midfielder was covered by Norberto Alonso. His style reflected Alonso's, with emphasis on individual technique and short passes. His slow pace gained him the nickname of Pachorra (lunfardo Spanish for "slowcoach").[2] In 1975, River Plate won their first title after a 18-year drought, and Alonso became the fans' undisputed hero. Sabella got his break in 1976, when Alonso was transferred to Olympique Marseille. He played a key role when River won the 1977 Metropolitano championship. Nevertheless, when Alonso returned to River Plate, Sabella was again relegated to the bench.

Sheffield United[edit]

Sheffield United had tried to sign the teenage Diego Maradona from Argentinos Juniors, however, manager Harry Haslam decided he was too expensive. Therefore, Sheffield turned to Sabella, and they signed him for £160,000 on 19 July 1978. He made his debut for "the Blades" in a 2–1 defeat against Leyton Orient on 19 August 1978. Unfortunately, the 'Blades' fans still recalled England midfielder Tony Currie, who had become a club legend.

Sabella played for United until 1980, scoring 8 league goals in 76 appearances. After relegation to the Third Division, manager Harry Haslam agreed a fee of £600,000 with Second Division club Sunderland. However, Sabella had ambitions to play in the First Division and refused to go. His final appearance for Sheffield United came with a goal in the County Cup (a regional competition between South Yorkshire teams) Final victory over Sheffield Wednesday on 8 May 1980.

His time at Sheffield United is regarded highly and he is often seen by blades fans as a Sheffield United Legend.

Leeds United & Return to Argentina[edit]

During the close season he was sold to Leeds United for £400,000. This represented great business for the Sheffield club, because it was clear Sabella neither had the power or pace to prosper in the top flight of English football.[citation needed] He played for Leeds without much success between 1980 and 1981. He made 23 appearances and scored 2 goals.

In December 1981, Sabella started looking for an Argentine club, and was sold to Estudiantes de La Plata. Under coach Carlos Bilardo, the team reached the semi-finals of the Nacional tournament (Sabella was injured in the first semi-final match against Quilmes). Subsequently, Sabella, together with Marcelo Trobbiani, José Daniel Ponce and Miguel Ángel Russo, made up the solid midfield of the Estudiantes team that went on to win two back-to-back championship titles.

When Bilardo was put in charge of the Argentina national football team, Sabella competed for his place with veterans Norberto Alonso and Ricardo Bochini, as well as younger players like Carlos Daniel Tapia, Jorge Burruchaga and Diego Maradona. Sabella played eight times for the national team, playing in all four games in the 1983 Copa América and in four friendlies; against Chile in May 1983 (as substitute), Paraguay in July 1983, Brazil in June 1984 and Uruguay in July 1984.[3]

Later career[edit]

The Argentine midfielder then moved to Brazilian Grêmio, where he played from 1985 to 1986. He subsequently returned to Estudiantes, but retired after a short spell in the Mexican league with Irapuato in 1989.

Managerial career[edit]

Sabella celebrates after winning the Apertura title with Estudiantes in 2010

After retirement, Sabella became a coach, but worked mostly as field assistant for Daniel Passarella. The duo coached the Argentina national team, Italian side Parma AC, the Uruguay national football team, Mexican Monterrey, and Brazilian Corinthians. In 2006, they were hired back by River Plate, that finished in third place in the Apertura tournament.

On 15 March 2009, Sabella became coach of Estudiantes de La Plata, where he won the 2009 Copa Libertadores. On 2 February 2011 he announced his resignation. Due to protestations from the team's players and management, he agreed to reconsider his decision,[4] but made it final the following day.[5] He officially resigned on 3 February 2011.

After Argentina's early exit at the 2011 Copa America, Sabella was appointed as the general manager of the Argentine national football team.[1] [6] Sabella was originally set to be the new coach of UAE League team Al-Jazira Club but backed out of the agreement after the AFA has shown interest in him.[7] After his appointment in August 2011, Sabella named Lionel Messi as Argentina's new captain.[8]He made his début in charge of the Argentine national football team in a 1–0 victory against Venezuela.

Managerial statistics[edit]

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Argentina 30 July 2011 Present 32 19 9 4 59.38
Total 32 19 9 4 59.38
As of 25 March 2014.


During his playing career Sabella's nicknames were el Mago ("the Magician") and Pachorra ("Sloth"), because of his perceived slowness during play. As Estudiantes manager he would be called Magno (from Alejandro Magno) because of the great Club World Cup final they took part in: the favourites, star-studded Barcelona, would only manage to beat his squad in extra time, by 2–1.


As player[edit]

River Plate


As manager[edit]



  1. ^ a b "AFP: Argentina appoint Sabella as new coach". 28 July 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Sabella joins Pincha pantheon". Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Soccer: The International Line-ups & Statistics Series – Argentina 1971–1997; Statistics – RG Hope-Smith; Editor Michael Robinson
  4. ^ "Sabella: "Me voy a tomar hasta mañana para decidir si sigo", Estudiantes, Sabella, Country, Pachorra, Copa Libertadores. Deportes, 02 de febrero de 2011, Diario El Día, La Plata, Argentina". 2 February 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Sabella dijo adiós y quedan muchos interrogantes abiertos, Sabella, Estudiantes, Pincha, Mar, Plata. Deportes, 04 de febrero de 2011, Diario El Día, La Plata, Argentina". Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Argentina confirm Sabella appointment". ESPN Soccernet. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Ex-Estudiantes boss Alejandro Sabella tipped for Argentina job – ESPN Soccernet". 27 July 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Messi named Argentina captain". ESPN Soccernet. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Argentina Edgardo Bauza
Copa Libertadores winning managers
Succeeded by
Brazil Celso Roth