BOCA JUNIORS

Gabriel Batistuta initially played basketball as a kid but after Argentina's victory in the 1978 World Cup, in which he was particularly impressed by the skills of Mario Kempes, he devoted himself to football

Having played one season at bitter arch-rivals River Plate, Batistuta signed for Boca in 1990. He initially found it hard to find his best form, in part to not playing in his favoured position of striker.
However, at the beginning of 1991 Oscar Tabárez became Boca's coach, and he gave Batistuta the chance up front. 'Batigol' as he became known became the league's top scorer that season as Boca won the championship

Boca Juniors has a huge global following and Peñas (fan clubs) exist in a number of Argentine cities and abroad in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Israel and Japan


Boca are particularly popular in Japan because of the club's success in recent years at the Intercontinental Cup held in Tokyo

It was reported that the club were considering the possibility of creating a Boca Juniors USA team to compete in the MLS with New York, Miami, LA and Arizona mentioned as possible locations

Boca versus city neighbours River Plate is as passionate and fierce as football matches come, to the point where no away tickets are allocated to the games!
Leopoldo Luque, a 1978 World Cup-winner with Argentina says: “Anyone who says it’s just another game is lying. It is not only the Argentinian Superclasico, it is also the South American Superclasico.”

“River is a team that goes out to attack,” ex-Boca playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme explains. “They don’t go out to defend because their fans make them take the initiative.” Roberto Passucci, a tough tackling midfielder from the 1980s Boca team, adds: “History shows that Boca traditionally score a goal and defend that lead with tooth and nail. River’s history show they want to win playing well. That is the difference between the two clubs.”

Boca Juniors is traditionally regarded as the club of Argentina's working class, in contrast with the supposedly more upper-class base of cross-town arch rival Club Atlético River Plate
Boca claims to be the club of "half plus one" (la mitad más uno) of Argentina's population, but a 2006 survey placed its following at 40%, still the largest share in the country

Boca Juniors is also one of only eight teams to have won CONMEBOL's treble (the others being Olimpia, São Paulo, Independiente, Vélez Sársfield, Cruzeiro, Internacional and LDU Quito)

Their success usually has Boca ranked among the IFFHS's Club World Ranking Top 25, and they have reached the top position six times (mostly during the coaching tenure of Carlos Bianchi). Boca was also named by the IFFHS as the top South American club of the first decade of the 21st century (2001–2010)

In 1997 Boca's favourite son Diego Maradona, dogged by scandal and controversy, played his last game for the club. His legacy and shirt number was handed to Argentina's new prodigy, Juan Roman Riquelme

Echoing Maradona, starting at Argentinos Juniors, then Boca and moving to Europe with Barcelona, the 'Lazy Magician' has had a turbulent career. Finding form with Villareal after bing bombed out of the Nou Camp, Riquelme shone and was unfortunate not to lead them into the final of the 2006 Champions league.
But another tense situation led Riquelme back to legendary status at his hometown club in Argentina

Born in Buenos Aires, Diego Maradona was nurtured at Argentinos Juniors for five years before his dream £1m move to Boca Juniors, the team he supports, in 1981. In his first full season at La Bombanera he was the guiding light that secured Boca the league title, his first piece of silverware

Maradona's exceptional vision, passing, ball control, dribbling skills, speed, reflexes and thinking time was combined with his small size (he was 5'5") giving him a low center of gravity which allowed him to be more maneuverable than most other football players.
A team mate once remarked "He had complete mastery of the ball. When Maradona ran with the ball or dribbled through the defence, he seemed to have the ball tied to his boots. I remember our early training sessions with him: the rest of the team were so amazed that they just stood and watched him. We all thought ourselves privileged to be witnesses of his genius." 

His presence on the pitch would have a great effect on his team's general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition who realised that stopping the mercurial Argentine would usually be crucial.
After an impressive 1982 World Cup, Maradona was transferred to Barcelona in Spain for £5m, a then world record fee.

Based in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Club Atlético Boca Juniors is one of the most successful clubs in Argentina and the world. Domestically, they have thirty league titles, second only to River Plate, their fierce rivals. Internationally, the team has won eighteen titles, a record shared with A.C. Milan

Legend has it that in 1906, Boca played another team that used this strip to decide who would get to keep it. Boca lost, and decided to adopt the colors of the flag of the first boat to sail into the port at La Boca. This proved to be a Swedish vessel sailing from Copenhagen, and as a result, the yellow and blue of the Swedish flag were adopted as the new team colours

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