Newell’s Old Boys defender, Gabriel Heinze announced his impending retirement at the end of the Torneo Final this week, calling time on an illustrious playing career. At 35 years of age, Heinze feels he can no longer physically play at the required level and so he will bow out when his current deal with Newell’s expires. 72 appearances for Argentina and league titles in England with Manchester United, in Spain with Real Madrid and France with Marseille plus a championship with Newell’s illustrate just how valuable Heinze was at his peak.
There is always a sadness when a player faces the realisation that age has finally caught up with them but it appears that Gabriel Heinze has reached that moment.
“As everything in life, dreams have an end too,” Heinze explained in his statement to the press.
Returning to his boyhood club, Newell’s Old Boys to call time on his career and claim another title is a fitting end, “Being part of the most beautiful club in Argentina will always be in my heart. I want to tell you that at the end of this season I won’t continue playing for this club. I can’t fight against my body’s reality. I can’t win this match.”
“I would play for the rest of my life for Newell’s, but I know I can’t be selfish. Loving a club is also taking responsible decisions with gratitude to a club that only gave me happiness.
“It’s time to finish my contract with Newell’s, but I will comply my contract. I’ll give the best of me in the months ahead, because the club always comes first.
“I trust the leadership to use the money for young players, who are the future of this club. That’s my wish, that puts into words my loyalty as a fan.”
Obviously now, following a glittering career in Europe and being a regular for the national side during two world cup campaigns, Heinze is one of the biggest names in the Primera Division. However, there was a time when he was not such a household name and it was perhaps the summer of 2004 that people began to take notice.
A big money move to Manchester United in the summer of 2004 was quickly followed by Olympic gold for Argentina in Athens and this established Heinze as another of Argentina’s premier exports.
The reason for Heinze’s relative obscurity in Argentina, prior to this was the brevity of his spell originally with Newell’s. After just 8 appearances the then 19-year old, Heinze signed for Spanish side, Valladolid.
An underwhelming start to life in Spain and a subsequent loan spell with Sporting Clube de Portugal kept the young Heinze under wraps but Paris Saint-Germain had seen enough for them to sign him in 2001.
In Paris, Heinze’s career really took off and over the course of the next 3 years he would rack up 99 appearances and claim a French Cup winners medal along the way.
When Manchester United decided to spend the best part of £7 million on the defender it was a signal that Heinze was destined for big things. A key member of Alex Ferguson’s side, Heinze lifted the Premier League trophy in 2007 before moving to Real Madrid.
A La Liga title followed in 2008 and then a Ligue 1 winners medal was added to the cabinet after a spell with Marseille. As his level of performance dropped it was clear that perhaps the time of Heinze playing at Europe’s elite clubs was over. There was brief time with Roma but in 2012 it was announced that he would be coming back to Argentina to finish where it had all started, with Newell’s Old Boys.
Heinze’s experience in defence was central to Tata Martino’s Newell’s side that swept to the Torneo Final 2012 and reached the semi final of the Copa Libertadores.
With Newell’s currently battling for both the Torneo Final and the Copa Libertadores there could yet be another triumphant chapter in Heinze’s career.