Brazil may have five World Cups, but it’s their South American neighbours who produce more world-class players than anywhere else in the world. The wellspring of talented Argentine youngsters ready to make the jump to Europe’s big leagues never seems to run dry – and a great many of them come through the ranks at Boca Juniors.
With 31 top flight titles to their name (and 65 major trophies overall), Boca are Argentina’s most decorated team, and their 112-year history is littered with some of the game’s all-time great players, many of whom have gone on to enormous success in the colours of the national team, as well as over in Europe.
You’re probably familiar with one or two of the household names who have worn the Azul y Oro shirt over the years, but here are some you may have missed.
The king (and court jester) of Argentine football spent a year at Boca before heading off to Europe in the eatly 1980s, before returning - with a little more weight in tow - for a second spell in 1995. Image Source: Twitter
Champions League winner Samuel has a CV the envy of most of his contemporaries, but before he played for Real Madrid and Inter, the no-nonsense centre-half spent three years in the colours of Boca between 1997 and 2000. Image Source: Twitter
Banega was only 19 when he departed Boca for a chance to join Valencia in 2007, but the midfield string-puller, who joined Inter in the summer, will go down as one of their academy's most gifted graduates. Image Source: Twitter
You could be forgiven for missing this one: Toon legend Coloccini only played a handful of games at Boca before being snapped up by AC Milan in the late 90s. Image Source: Twitter
Some have accused Tevez of lacking loyalty, but the former Manchester City striker has always reserved a special place in his heart for childhood team Boca Juniors (who he left this year to play in China). Image Source: Twitter
Juan Roman Riquelme
Outside of a few seasons at Villarreal, Riquelme's stint in Europe didn't really go according to plan - but his place in football folklore is secured thanks to his time with Boca, where he netted nearly 100 goals over two spells. Image Source: Twitter
Boca's all-time leading goal scorer never managed to make a go of things in Europe, but the towering striker has always been a fan favourite in his homeland and featured at the 2010 World Cup at the ripe old age of 36. Image Source: Twitter
Inter's veteran striker was a leading part of the successful Boca side of the mid-2000s, winning three league titles and the Copa Libertadores before departing for the bright lights fo Serie A in 2009. Image Source: Twitter
Batistuta held the record for Argentina NT goals close to two decades before Messi eclipsed him last year. The prolific striker (they didn't call him Batigol for nothing) spent just a year at Boca in the early 90s. Image Source: Twitter
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This list is just the tip of the iceberg, though, and you could easily fill a Boeing 747 (or at least Carlos Tevez’s new private jet) with top class players who once turned out for Boca.
And you have to wonder whether Argentina’s most famous club currently possess a hidden gem that will go on to be a future world-class footballer – perhaps the next Diego Maradona is already waiting in the wings?!