Time’s up for Venezuela’s own ‘Captain Socceroo’

“After 129 matches and 23 goals, Juan Arango retired from international football after the midweek 1-1 draw with Panama. He leaves the field with football in his country on a very different footing from the one it was in January 1999, when the 18 year-old Arango climbed off the bench to make his debut against Denmark. Johnny Warren’s mission was to plant and grow the seed of football in terrain that many said would not prove fertile. Arango has done something similar. Unlike the rest of the continent, Venezuela appeared unable to catch the footballbug. It was a land of baseball and beauty contests. Football existed, but it was a flame kept alive by European immigrants, often from Spain, Italy or Portugal. Some in Venezuela even saw it as a middle-class sport. The popular passion was not for goals but to score a ‘jonron’ – the local translation of a baseball home run.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

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