Walter Samuel

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Walter Samuel
Walter Samuel FC Internazionale.jpg
Samuel with Internazionale in October 2011
Personal information
Full name Walter Adrián Luján Samuel
Date of birth (1978-03-23) 23 March 1978 (age 40)
Place of birth Laborde, Argentina
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Centre-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–1997 Newell's Old Boys 42 (0)
1997–2000 Boca Juniors 77 (4)
2000–2004 Roma 122 (9)
2004–2005 Real Madrid 30 (2)
2005–2014 Internazionale 169 (14)
2014–2016 Basel 29 (2)
Total 469 (31)
National team
1997 Argentina U20 6 (0)
1999–2010 Argentina 56 (5)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Walter Adrián Luján Samuel (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈwalter saˈmwel]; born Walter Adrián Luján; 23 March 1978) is a retired Argentine professional footballer.[1] Samuel has been regarded as one of the best centre-backs of his generation,[2][3] and as one of football's toughest defenders,[4] with former international teammate and Inter captain Javier Zanetti referring to him as the "hardest player" he has played with.

Samuel began his club career with domestic club Newell's Old Boys in 1996, later moving to Boca Juniors the following year. This was soon followed by a move to Europe in 2000, and spells with Italian club Roma, and Spanish club Real Madrid. In 2005, he returned to Italy, joining Inter, where he remained for nine seasons, winning five consecutive Serie A titles; he played a key role in the club's treble success in the 2009–10 season, partnering with Lúcio in defence under José Mourinho. At international level, he has accumulated over 50 caps for the Argentine national team, representing his country at two FIFA World Cups, the 1999 Copa América, and the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, where he won a runners-up medal.

Early life and personal life[edit]

Samuel was born Walter Adrián Luján, but adopted the family name of his stepfather, "Samuel" as a teenager.[5] He has a daughter and two sons with his wife Cecilia.[6]

Club career[edit]

Walter Samuel with Internazionale.

Early career[edit]

Samuel started playing professionally in 1996 in Argentina for Newell's Old Boys, and a year later moved to Boca Juniors, where he played 103 matches and scored five goals in all competitions until 2000.[7] In that year, Roma bought his contract for 40.265 billion Italian lire (about €20 million).[8][9] He gained fame as one of the best defenders in the Italian league and gained a nickname to match, winning the Serie A title with Roma in 2001.[10] His quality attracted interest from Spanish team Real Madrid.

Real Madrid paid €25 million for his transfer in 2004.[11] Samuel failed to make an impact at Madrid and was not the leader at the back that Real so desperately needed. He was one of the three non-EU players of the team, along with Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos; they all obtained Spanish passports, however, in 2005.[12]

Internazionale[edit]

In August 2005, he returned to the Serie A with a transfer to Internazionale on a four-year contract for reported €16 million fee.[13] He began his Inter adventure by winning the 2005 Supercoppa Italiana versus Juventus, entering in 63rd minute as Nerazzurri won at extra-time thanks to the winner of Verón.[14] Later on 13 September, he made his league debut his new side on 21 September by starting in the 1–0 away win over Chievo.[15] On 24 November, during a Champions League group stage match against Petržalka, Samuel played in a line-up of 11 foreign players on the pitch, with Luís Figo being the only european.[16] He finished his first season at Inter by making 42 appearances in all competitions, with the team winning the championship following the relegation of Juventus due to match-fixing,[17] and Coppa Italia by defeating Roma 4–2 on aggregate, with Samuel playing on both finals,[18] thus completed an unforeseen domestic treble.

Walter Samuel with Internazionale as a substitute.

In the Derby della Madonnina on 23 December 2007, he hurt himself whilst marking the Brazilian international Kaká, and a couple weeks later, he had reconstructive surgery on his medial collateral ligament.[19] He was expected to be out until the end of the 2007–08 season. In actuality, he started training with the first team again in October of the 2008–09 season and promptly earned a first team place back under manager José Mourinho. He played his first match in more than nine months on 9 November by starting in the 1–0 home win over Udinese.[20]

Samuel was one of the most important players under Mourinho in the 2009–10 season, partnering Lúcio in defence[21] as they won the Serie A title, the Coppa Italia, and the UEFA Champions League, completing a historic treble.[22] He scored his first goal of the season on 20 October in the third Champions League group stage match versus Dynamo Kyiv which prevented Inter from losing;[23] he headed home a Wesley Sneijder cross to make it 2–2. This draw extended Inter winless run in the UEFA Champions League to eight matches.[23]

Later on 9 January, Samuel scored a last-minute winner in the 4–3 win versus Siena by beating goalkeeper Gianluca Curci whith e left-footed shot.[24] His goal later resulted decisive as Inter won the title two points ahead of Roma.[25] He played his 100th Serie A game for Inter later on 24 April in the 3–1 win over Atalanta.[26] Samuel finished the season by making 42 appearances and scoring 4 goals; he was praised for his defensive performances against Barcelona and Bayern Munich on Inter's road to the Champions League title.[27][28][29]

Samuel suffered a severe knee injury in 7 November 2010 fixture against Brescia.[30] This forced him to miss the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup triumph in United Arab Emirates.[31] He returned in action on 15 May of the following year by entering in the last minutes of a 1–1 away draw versus Napoli.[32] After the match Samuel expressed his delighting for playing his first match in almost six months, stating: "I'm feeling good and I'm delighted at having been able to play the last few minutes of this match. I would like to thank the medical staff for the work they did after my injury, my family who has always stood by me, and all the fans."[33] He finished the 2010–11 season by making 15 appearances in all competitions.

On 5 February 2012, Samuel played his 500th match as a professional in the 4–0 defeat at Roma.[34] At the end of the season, he signed a new one-year contract with the club, lengthening his Inter career up to eight seasons.[35] Later on 7 October, he scored inside three minutes in the derby versus Milan which resulted the winning goal, meaning that Samuel has won all 10 derbies that he has played.[36] In June 2013, Samuel extended his contract for another season, in what would be his final season.[37] He scored his first goal of the season on 9 February 2014, a header which resulted the winner in the match against Sassuolo for the first win of 2014.[38]

Samuel wore the captain armband for the first time on 15 February 2014 in the 2–1 win at Fiorentina due to Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso being on bench.[39] His final goal for the club came in the 4–0 win at Sampdoria in April 2014.[40] Samuel left the club at the end of 2013–14 season, having made 236 appearances and winning 13 trophies in nine years.[41] His last appearance for the club occurred on 10 May 2014 in the 4–1 home win over Lazio which gave the team a spot in UEFA Europa League next season.[42]

Basel[edit]

After 9 seasons with Inter, on 23 July 2014, Samuel signed a one-year contract with Basel in the Swiss Super League.[43] He made his first team league debut on 31 August 2014 in the 3–1 home win against Young Boys.[44] The Basel 2014–15 Super League season was a very successful one. They won the championship for the sixth time in a row[45] and reached the final of the 2014–15 Swiss Cup, losing 0–3 to FC Sion in the final. Under trainer Paulo Sousa Samuel totaled 26 appearances, 13 League, 1 Cup, 4 Champions League, as well 8 in test games. He scored 2 goals in these matches.[46]

In June 2015, Samuel prolonged his contract with Basel for another year;[47] in October, however, he communicated his intention to retire at the end of the 2015–16 season, due to physical difficulties.[48] He made his 100th UEFA club competition appearance playing for them in the closing match of the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League group stage during the 1–0 away win in the INEA Stadion against Lech Poznań on 10 December 2015.[49]

Under trainer Urs Fischer Samuel won the Swiss Super League championship with Basel at the end of the 2015–16 Super League season for the second time.[50] Samuel played the final match of his career in a 1–0 home defeat against Grasshoppers, on 25 May 2016, at the age of 38.[10][51][52]

International career[edit]

Samuel was part of Argentina U20 which emerged victorius in the 1997 edition of FIFA U-20 World Cup.[53] He made his debut in the tournament in the opening Group E match versus Hungary which was won 3–0,[54] and went on to play in the remaining two matches as Argentina topped their group.[55][56]

Samuel has played 56 matches for Argentina between 1999 and 2010, scoring five goals.[57] He played for his country in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup,[58][59] as well as in the 1999 Copa América,[60] and in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup,[59] in which Argentina won a runners-up medal.[61][citation needed]

Style of play[edit]

Regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation,[2] Samuel was a large, quick, powerful, and aggressive centreback, who excelled in the air, both defensively, and as a goal threat on set pieces. His defensive skills, which included an excellent positional sense, an ability to read the game, as well as tough, tight marking, and hard tackling, made him extremely effective at anticipating opponents. His strong, consistent, and uncompromising style of play earned him the nickname Il Muro ("The Wall").[4][51][62][63] Despite his ability as a defender, his career was also marked by several injuries that affected his fitness.[51]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 25 May 2016.[64][65]
Club Season League Cup Continental Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Newell's Old Boys
1995–96 5 0 5 0
1996–97 35 0 35 0
1997–98 2 0 2 0
Total 42 0 42 0
Boca Juniors
1997–98 12 0 12 0
1998–99 34 2 7 0 41 2
1999–00 31 2 19 1 50 3
Total 77 4 26 1 103 5
Roma
2000–01 31 1 2 0 8 3 41 4
2001–02 30 5 2 0 12 0 1[a] 0 45 5
2002–03 31 2 6 0 10 0 47 2
2003–04 30 1 2 0 8 0 40 1
Total 122 9 12 0 38 3 1 0 173 12
Real Madrid
2004–05 30 2 2 0 8 0 40 2
Total 30 2 2 0 8 0 40 2
Internazionale
2005–06 27 2 5 0 9 0 1[a] 0 42 2
2006–07 18 3 5 0 3 0 1[a] 0 27 3
2007–08 12 0 1 0 5 1 0 0 18 1
2008–09 17 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 20 1
2009–10 28 3 1 0 13 1 0 0 42 4
2010–11 10 0 0 0 3 0 2[b] 0 13 0
2011–12 27 2 1 0 6 1 1[a] 0 35 3
2012–13 16 1 1 0 5 0 22 1
2013–14 14 2 1 0 15 2
Total 169 14 17 0 45 3 5 0 236 17
Basel
2014–15 12 1 2 0 4 0 18 1
2015–16 17 1 3 0 7 1 27 2
Total 29 2 5 0 11 1 47 3
Career total 469 31 36 0 128 8 641 39
  1. ^ a b c d Appearances in the Supercoppa Italiana
  2. ^ One appearances in the UEFA Super Cup and one appearance in the Supercoppa Italiana

International[edit]

Source:[66]

Argentina national team
Year Apps Goals
1999 10 1
2000 10 0
2001 8 2
2002 6 0
2003 5 1
2004 6 0
2005 5 1
2006 2 0
2007 0 0
2008 0 0
2009 0 0
2010 4 0
Total 56 5

International goals[edit]

Argentina score listed first, score column indicates score after each Samuel goal.[66]
International goals by date, venue, opponent, score, result and competition
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 3 February 1999 Estadio José Pachencho Romero, Maracaibo, Venezuela  Venezuela 1–0 2–0 Friendly
2. 28 March 2001 El Monumental, Buenos Aires, Argentina  Venezuela 5–0 5–0 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
3. 8 November 2001  Peru 1–0 2–0
4. 20 August 2003 Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy  Uruguay 2–2 3–2 Friendly
5. 11 November 2005 Stade de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland  England 2–1 2–3

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Boca Juniors[67]
Roma[67]
Internazionale[68]
FC Basel[64]

International[edit]

Argentina U-20
Argentina[64]

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

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  46. ^ Zindel, Josef (2015). Rotblau: Jahrbuch Saison 2015/2016. FC Basel Marketing AG. ISBN 978-3-7245-2050-4. 
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  68. ^ "WALTER ADRIAN SAMUEL – CAREER AND HONOURS". Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
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External links[edit]