Back in 2015 after struggling with a series of injuries, Pablo Aimar announced his retirement from River Plate and since then has industriously embarked on a coaching career that has seen him take charge of the Argentina under-17s.
This new chapter had closed the door on the career of Pablo Aimar, the fleet-footed, playmaker until last week when the 38-year-old played for his childhood club, Estudiantes de Río Cuarto in a friendly. Afterwards, Aimar announced that he would be playing for the club officially in the Copa Argentina first round second leg against Sportivo Belgrano.
On Tuesday evening in a packed Estadio de Río Cuarto, El Payaso was back for one night only and while it may have ended in disappointment for Estudiantes, there could be no dampening the atmosphere to bid Aimar farewell.
Sportivo Belgrano goalkeeper Federico Cosentino ensured it wasn’t to be a fairytale ending with a couple of decent stops to deny Aimar during the goalless draw that ensured a 2-1 aggregate victory for the visitors.
Aimar lasted 50 minutes before his substitution to a standing ovation, including former manager Marcelo Bielsa in the crowd, but the opportunity to play alongside his brother, Andrés provided the perfect way to bow out.
“This was my last game and I will never forget it,” Aimar told reporters after the match.
“I made my debut for Estudiantes. Football gave me friends, taught me many things and today is the culmination of all that.
“It is difficult to see that end but I liked it this way, playing in competitive match with my brother, with my family here and Marcelo [Bielsa] in the stands. It’s amazing.
“Now I have a beautiful job with the [Argentina] youth side. I love that job and my goal is for all the guys who come to train with us get better.”
If Aimar can help develop players that even come close to the youth sides that he was a part of, then Argentina have a fine future to look forward to.