Date: 5th September 2008 at 12:23am
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We nearly had Maradona…but we got Alex Sabella

After the article earlier concerning where United’s players had ended up over the summer, Vital member bladeforlife1889 brought up the challenge of whatever happened to Alex Sabella?

Sabella joined the Blades in 1978 from River Plate for the sum of £160,000 which was £20,000 less than the Blades had tried to pay for a certain Diego Maradona just a number of weeks earlier.

He made his debut on 18th August 1978 against Leyton Orient and would go on to play for the Blades 76 times, scoring 8 goals, before being sold to rivals Leeds United for £400,000 in 1980. It’s reported United turned down £600,000 from Sunderland when they were in the Second Division.

El Mago returned to Argentina from Yorkshire in 1980 to play for Estudiantes, a team now made famous by Juan Sebastian Veron, who almost single handedly led them to the league title a little over a year ago. Sabella went one better, and won back to back titles with the team. His coach Carlos Bilardo was appointed coach of Argentina and called up Sabella for games including the Copa America in 1983. Sabella didn’t make the 86 World Cup squad and only earned 4 caps for his country.

Sabella moved to Brazilian giants Gremio before returning to Estudiantes and finally retiring after a short spell with Ferro Carril Oeste.

Sabella went on to coach Parma, Monterrey, Corinthians and the Uruguay national team, all alongside his good friend Daniel Passarella. The duo were hired by River Plate in 2006, to work under head coach (and David Beckham’s favourite Argentine) Diego Simeone


12 Replies to “Alex Sabella”

  • Fascinating article. The so nearly signing of Maradonna is a serious part of Blades folklore – what might have been – or would we have simply sold him to Leeds as we did Alex and others (I’m not even going down the road of TC or Mick Jones as even now it makes me feel bitter) when we were no more than a feeder club for LUFC (how the ‘mighty. have fallen I’m glad to say). Alex, I recall, was a real talent but not well suited to a muddy Lane surface. Nice to see his later career prospered again on home ground.Wish him well.

  • Harrogate, Alex wasnt universally popular with team mates at BDTBL, he played when he wanted to, NEVER tracked back to help his defenders. If you read Gary Hampson and Tony Kenworthy, they say he got away with murder with managers because of his undoubted ability to create something out of nothing. As you say, January & February werent his favourite months!

  • Ok, apology accepted, Sheps! I know BFL is a great contributer to this site with some great postings, but there are a few others of us out here……or have you two got something going on?!**

  • sheps…..If you are in the mood, what can you find out about Len Allchurch? Bought in at the end of 1961/2 season scored against Leeds on his debut and almost single handedly won us promotion.

  • Glouc sorry to butt in- do remember Len – a Mathews-style winger who only spent about 4/5 years with us – a class act and Welsh international. Had a brother Ivor(?) I recall who was even better

  • harrogate, No problem, get stuck in! Yes, Len Allchurch was with us about that long, went on to Stockport I think. He was never as good as Ivor – who got a great many more caps than Len – but he arrived after Christmas and scored 8 or 9 goals to win us promotion. I probably remember him as being better than he really was.

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