Mascherano makes 100th appearance for Argentina

The versatile 30-year-old Barcelona ace has become his country's fourth international centurion just under 11 years after making his Albiceleste debut against Uruguay
Javier Mascherano made 100th appearance for Argentina in Saturday's World Cup 2014 Group F clash with Iran.

The versatile Barcelona ace retains his place in the Albiceleste midfield after playing all 90 minutes of his country's tournament-opening 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Maracana in Rio, thus becoming their fourth international centurion.

A precociously talented teenager, Mascherano was handed his first senior cap - against Uruguay in July 2003 - by then Argentina boss Marcelo Bielsa before he had even made his debut for River Plate.

The San Lorenzo-born man has been a regular in the Albiceleste set-up ever since. Indeed, he was a member of the side that finished as runners-up to Brazil in the 2004 Copa America before then claiming Olympic gold with Argentina in Athens just one month later.

Mascherano featured in all five of his country's games at his first World Cup, in Germany in 2006, and, after winning another gold medal in 2008 in Beijing, was an even more integral member of Diego Maradona's senior squad in South Africa in 2010.

Even though he was subsequently transformed into a central defender at club level by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, Mascherano is deployed in midfield by Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella and that is precisely where he will play when he takes to field on Saturday in Belo Horizonte to join an elite group of compatriots to have amassed more than 100 caps.

Only Javier Zanetti (145), Roberto Ayala (115) and Diego Simeone (106) have earned more Albiceleste appearances than Mascherano, who, at 30, could yet feature in a fourth successive World Cup in Russia in four years' time.