Dani Osvaldo: Rock ‘n’ roll footballer returns after four-year break

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February 17, 2020
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    Dani Osvaldo playing for Argentinian side Banfield against River Plate

    Dani Osvaldo (right) has returned to football with Argentinian side Banfield – four years after quitting to concentrate on “barbecue and beer”

    Lots of kids grow up wanting to be a footballer or a rockstar – Dani Osvaldo gets to do both.

    The Argentina-born Italian striker – which is quite a decent footballing heritage, to be fair – quit football four years ago.

    Since then he’s been focussing on his band, Barrio Viejo (Old Town).

    He also featured in Italy’s version of Strictly Come Dancing – Ballando con le Stelle – in 2019 and finished a respectable third.

    Last night, Osvaldo returned to the game in Argentina with Banfield, coming on against River Plate and almost scoring with a wonder goal, seeing his 30-yard chip tipped over the bar.

    Had he scored, he could have dented River Plate’s title charge, which we’re sure Osvaldo’s former club Boca Juniors would have appreciated.

    Looking every bit like the fella who brings his own guitar to festival campsites, or your mate who found himself on a gap-year full-moon party on Ko Pha-ngan, Osvaldo signed a one-year contract with Banfield in January.

    He previously retired from football in 2016, aged 30.

    In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Osvaldo explained his decision at the time by saying: “I decided to quit at Boca, there was too much gossip. I was beginning to hate what I had always loved. Football deserves respect, and I prefer asado [Argentinian barbecue] and beer to money.”

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    Straight out of the rock ‘n’ roll handbook, that one.

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    In the same interview, he told a story about a time in 2016 when he turned down an offer from former Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli – then boss of Sevilla – because he didn’t want to miss out on a rock festival.

    “Do you want to laugh?” he said. “In December 2016, Sampaoli contacted me. ‘Dani, do what you want on and off the field, but I need a striker.’ I replied: ‘Mister, but there is the Cosquin Rock [Argentine music festival].”

    Prior to retiring, Osvaldo played for 13 clubs including Espanyol, Roma, Fiorentina, Southampton, Juventus, Inter Milan, Porto and Boca Juniors, and scored four goals in 14 appearances for Italy.

    That journey was not exactly a straightforward one. He was suspended by Southampton (and subsequently had his contract terminated) in 2014 after a training-ground fight with team-mate Jose Fonte.

    Dani Osvaldo and dance partner Veera Kinnunen

    Dani Osvaldo finished third in Italy’s version of Strictly Come Dancing in 2019

    He was also suspended by Roma in 2011 for punching team-mate Erik Lamela during a 2-0 defeat by Udinese.

    And then there was the story that his contract was terminated by Boca Juniors in 2016 after the manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto caught him smoking in the dressing room. Obnoxious bad behaviour or grist to the rock folklore mill, depending on your point of view.

    Speaking on his return, he told Banfield’s website: “I am very happy, in Banfield they treat me very well and make me feel important.”

    One could conclude that sounds a little bit like a dig at some of his former clubs.

    Either way, he’s back and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

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