When the JDT All-Stars match was played on Sunday featuring the who's who of world football from the 90s to the 2000s, there was also a pair of good friends reunited on the left hand side of the JDT TMJ side. Esteban Cambiasso and Luciano Figueroa both knew and played with each other from their days back with the under-age groups in the Argentina national team.
So when they were given a chance to work together again on a night of charity work for several cancer foundations, both jumped at the chance to do it. Cambiasso travelled to Johor Bahru but Figueroa is of course the current team manager of Johor Darul Ta'zim, having spent several seasons playing for JDT.
Both of them were part of the senior Argentina squad who played in the 2004 Copa America as well as the 2005 Confederations Cup, a friendship that has held firm for several decades. Cambiasso who was once also on the books at Real Madrid, couldn't be more chuffed to meet an old friend and praise the work the Figueroa has put in for JDT.
"I’m happy first of all for Luciano because I played with him a lot of times with the national team. I always try to know where my ex team mates are. He has the possibility here to win the league as a player and as a manager, which is not easy to do.
"In football we know it’s not easy to try to develop a team or a country. Malaysia is a good place for him. It needs a lot of passion because the process needs a long time. Many people in football want immediate results but football sometimes don’t work like that. I think Johor is doing well and try to do better every year," Cambiasso told Goal.
Figueroa's time with JDT coincided with a period of unprecedented success for JDT in Malaysian football. Three times Super League champions as a player in 2014, 2015 and 2018; the forward also guided JDT to an impressive feat of winning the AFC Cup in 2015.
Now working on the other side of the white line, Figueroa performs a different function for JDT as the team manager and has also managed to win the 2019 Super League title. As Cambiasso had recently worked with the Colombia national team as the assistant manager alongside Jose Pekerman, he knows full well the difficulty of making that transition for a former player.
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