Sergio Agüero is a close friend of Lionel Messi. For many years, he was the skipper's roommate on away days with the Albiceleste. Now retired, and with Argentina in the World Cup final, 'Kun' finds himself in Qatar, bringing joy to La Scaloneta and helping to relieve the tension surrounding their bid for glory.
It was a year ago this Thursday that Agüero, a deadly striker, had to retire from football due to a heart problem. He announced his decision at a press conference on December 15, struggling to hold back the tears.
He was 33 years old. Just a few months earlier had decided to return to Spain and La Liga, where had once starred for Atlético Madrid before moving to England and enjoying a glorious decade with Manchester City.
Agüero signed for Barcelona with the goal of playing alongside Messi. But from the very first moment, everything went wrong. He did not get to wear the club's shirt with his dear friend on the pitch alongside him. Messi unexpectedly signed for PSG, as the Catalan club's sunk to its lowest point in years.
He made just five appearances for Barcelona. First a muscle injury slowed him down and when he returned to fitness, on October 30, he suffered a heart arrhythmia against Alavés. He was taken to hospital and was initially set to undergo treatment for three months. Finally, the doctors advised him to retire. He accepted the recommendation.
In that same year, 2021, 'Kun' had been part of the Argentina team that ended a three-decade trophy drought by winning the Copa América, the starting point of the Scaloneta's glory days that could peak on Sunday in the final against France.
Far from being downhearted after retiring, in his first year away from football Agüero has learned to enjoy life in a different way.
In Doha, with his VIP access to his national team, he is everywhere: he appeared as a mediator near the dressing room during the scuffle between players after the Argentina-Netherlands match, while he has also been filmed hugging a group of children in a shopping centre and dancing an African dance with fans.
Upon his arrival in Qatar, he was already making waves. He uploaded a clip to social media showing his displeasure at having to fly to Doha on a plane packed full of euphoric Brazilians.
A regular Twitch streamer from the Qatari capital, Agüero had a lively chat with former team-mates from Spain, including Sergio Busquets, Rodri and Ferran Torres, whom he 'teased' about a rumoured relationship with the daughter of former Spanish national team coach Luis Enrique.
It was the same with Messi, who made his debut in a stream with his friend. Joined by 'Papu' Gómez, the duo laughed as the winger claimed he had a resemblance to former England captain David Beckham, thanks to his new haircut.
"I'm honest, it's nothing like it. If you think you're Beckham, we're fucked," said 'Kun', seconded by Messi's laughter.
Agüero also had to come to his defence of Messi on social networks after the Argentina skipper was threatened by boxer Canelo Alvarez for inadvertently stepping on a Mexico shirt after the Albiceleste's 2-0 first-round win.
On Tuesday, after the 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia, Messi was surprised to find his friend waiting in the corridor to hand him the man of the match trophy.
Later that night, La Pulga returned to Argentina's training camp, his first major tournament without rooming with Agüero. It's safe to say the joy the retired striker is bringing to Qatar is certainly getting through regardless.
by Pablo Melian, AFP