|Full name||José Néstor Pékerman Krimen|
|Date of birth||September 3, 1949|
|Place of birth||Villa Domínguez, Argentina|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Midfielder Right|
|Current club||Colombia (manager)|
|1981–1982||Chacarita Juniors (youth)|
|1982–1992||Argentinos Juniors (youth)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
José Néstor Pékerman Krimen (born September 3, 1949) is an Argentine football coach and an ex-football player. He became famous as a youth level coach for Argentina, winning the FIFA World Youth Championship three times, and the U-20 South American Youth Championship twice. He coached the Argentina national football team in the 2006 World Cup and became coach of the Colombian national football team officially in the beginning of 2012.
Career as a player
Pékerman's career as a footballer was uneventful. A midfielder, he played from 1970 to 1974 for Argentinos Juniors scoring 12 goals in 134 matches. He was transferred to Independiente Medellín, in Colombia, where he scored 15 goals in 101 matches.
His career as a player ended at age 28 with a serious knee injury. Pékerman was then forced to support himself and his family with various odd jobs, including a stint as a taxi driver.
In 1994, he was offered to coach the Argentinian national under-20 and under-17 sides by the Argentine Football Association. This caused some surprise as his résumé did not include any major achievements at this stage. He teamed up with Hugo Tocalli and coach Eduardo Urtasun.
Pékerman's success, however, silenced the critics: his under-20 team won the FIFA World Youth Championship three times, 1995 (Qatar), 1997 (Malaysia), and 2001 (Argentina), thus giving the names to his three pet dogs - Qatar, Malaysia and Argentina. The team also won the two South American Youth Championships in 1997 and 1999.
When the national coach Daniel Passarella resigned after the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Pékerman was offered his position. He declined, assuming instead the position of General Manager of all national teams. Marcelo Bielsa was hired as coach on Pékerman's recommendation, and remained in charge until after Argentina's gold medal performance in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
In 2003 Pékerman moved to Spain at the behest of Argentine businessman Daniel Grinbank, who had acquired Spanish Second Division side Club Deportivo Leganés. After a few months as Director of Football, the project crumbled, and Pékerman left Spain.
When Bielsa resigned as coach, Pékerman was one of the two candidates for the coaching job, alongside Carlos Bianchi, who had left Boca Juniors a few months earlier, and wanted to take a sabbatical year away from football.
World Cup 2006
On September 15, 2004, Pékerman was named coach of the Argentina national football team, which qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. They dominated its initial Group Stage matches and drew with the Netherlands, emerging on top of their group on goals difference. The albicelestes moved on to the knockout round, beating Mexico 2-1 in a comeback victory.
In the quarterfinals, Argentina went ahead 1-0 against the host nation Germany, but shortly before the end of the match Germany equalized through a Miroslav Klose header. Germany would go on to win on penalties, sending Argentina out of the tournament. Pékerman made defensive substitutions including taking off Juan Roman Riquelme for Esteban Cambiasso. After the loss, Pékerman announced his resignation as Argentine national football coach. AFA boss Julio Grondona tried to dissuade Pékerman from leaving. It was later announced that Alfio Basile, who coached Argentina during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, would replace him as coach.
Post World Cup
On 30 May 2007, Pékerman resumed his coaching career, taking up the position of head coach of Club Toluca in Mexico replacing fellow Argentine Américo Gallego. At the end of the Clausura 2008 tournament he was replaced by Jose Manuel de la Torre.
After the end of Clausura 2009, Pékerman was dismissed as Coach of UANL Tigres and was replaced by Daniel Guzman.
In July 2010, it had been reported that Pékerman was in serious talks with the Australia national association football team, as well as talks with the Japan national football team about taking over the role as senior manager following the resignation of the respective coaches from each nation.
2014 World Cup cycle and becoming coach of Colombia
In January 2012, Pekerman became the new coach of the Colombian national football team. For his first match a friendly against Mexico, Pekerman impressed having the Colombian team completely take control of the friendly with a 2-0 victory. In his first qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup, a struggling Colombia managed to win 1-0 over Peru in Lima. However, Pekerman was criticized for using a long range style of play rather than a close midfield passing control. This resulted in a weak Colombian side who lost to Ecuador 1-0 away from home, his first loss. On his first home game Pekerman made an astonishing comeback as Colombia demolished Copa America 2011 Champions Uruguay with the score of 4-0 as the seventh round of the South American World Cup Qualifiers (Conmebol) started. Under his direction, Colombia also won 3-1 to the local Chilean team and 2-0 to Paraguay in Barranquilla. A few days later, Pekerman experimented without many star players such as Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez against Cameroon resulting in a comfortable 3-0 home victory. For the last match for 2012 and his debut year, Pekerman created an interesting 1-1 draw result with 2014 world cup hosts Brazil while missing 2 star players.
In the opening match for 2013, Pekerman experimented again, this time against a weak Guatemala. Pekerman used only subs in a 4-1 victory giving a penalty and without using senior starters such as Radamel Falcao. During the next round of qualifiers, Pekerman continued with the promising 4-2-2-2 formation that led Colombia into crushing Bolivia in a 5-0 home victory. Pekerman however decided to use a different formation (4-4-1-1) which led to a socking 0-1 lost to rivaling neighbors Venezuela in an away match. He was heavily criticized for experimenting again (just like with Ecuador in 2012) during a world cup qualifying match that cost them 2nd place, into 3rd. Regardless, Pekerman assured better results in the future. In the match against his home nation Argentina, Pekerman changed the lineup and formation to better 'deal' with the South American giants, resulting in a difficult 0-0 draw. Pekerman was questioned once again with certain lineup choices.
After Colombia qualified for the world cup in a 3-3 tie against Chile at home, Pekerman expressed his joy for helping Colombia return to the world cup for the first time in 16 years, considering it to be 'one of the greatest joys in his life.'. Following Colombia's qualification, Pekerman was said to be nationalized as a Colombian.
Management Style and Legacy
Pekerman is well-known for his tactical management style selecting the 'best players' that would 'fit' his style of coaching, often resulting in many impressive victories. This instead of selecting players that are 'above' others, thus he is less biased on how talented a player is. However, despite his genius mind-set, Pekerman makes very controversial selections with line-ups against certain teams. This is strongly supported to the fact that he experimented a lot with the Argentinean Youth squads when he was coaching them, but reflects these methods with senior squad teams, both club and nation. One example would be his change in formation and strategy, despite having previous success with each respective formation and strategy that he has enjoyed success with by a given team.
Before the 2006 World Cup began, Pékerman made controversial decisions of dropping established defenders Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel. When Argentina was eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinal, his substitution decision caused storms of criticism, as well. Despite the dramatic loss, Pékerman was still hailed by many fans and press as a very effective coach and the "Pékerman Era" is regarded as one that brought a lot of pride to the country. His team lost its temper after the elimination and started a huge brawl, which was believed to be one of the major factors that caused his resignation.
While starting with the Colombia national team, Pekerman had made impressive starts. Winning 4 of his 5 games only losing one while becoming a hero in Colombia for renewing the golden generation that existed in the '1990s. He has been dubbed as a 'Superman' icon for his impressive victories. However, Colombians however have also criticized and questioned his choices regarding certain line-ups. One example is his questionable change in strategy with Colombia's winning formula against Bolivia in the 2014 world cup qualifiers, where Colombia won 5-0 but lost to Venezuela days later after abandoning the promising formula itself.
- New York Times, Pekerman's Journey, June 27, 2006.