Tuesday 29 November 2022, 16:30

Enrique Macaya Márquez makes it 17 FIFA World Cups in a row

  • Argentinian journalist has covered every FIFA World Cup since 1958

  • Enrique Macaya Márquez sets a new record

  • Celebrated his 88th birthday while commenting on the opening game

Enrique Macaya Márquez still remembers his first journey to the FIFA World Cup. The plane had to make so many refuelling stops that he cannot remember them all. Then came a train journey followed by a bus and ferry to finally reach his destination.

That was back in 1958, when he travelled from his native Argentina to Sweden. Remarkably, Enrique has been to every FIFA World Cup since then and is covering the tournament for the 17th time, setting a new record among journalists. He celebrated his 88th birthday on the opening day of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, a match that he commentated on for Argentina's D Sports radio station. "You need knowledge, and you have to know how to communicate what you know, you have to know how to deal with technology, you have to know the game and interpret it correctly," he told FIFA.com, explaining his recipe for success. "It´s not easy and you have to learn all the time, talking to people and learning from them -- that is how you get better."

Enrique Macaya Márquez is presented with a world cup replica trophy by Ronaldo

Enrique grew up in the same neighbourhood as the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, and played in kickabouts with the late Real Madrid, Argentina and Spain player. He started work at a radio station at the age of 15 and made no secret of his love of football. One afternoon, he got a lucky break when the regular commentator was not available and he was asked to step in. He has never looked back since. At the age of 23, he was chosen to go the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. As he recalls, travelling to Europe was not so easy in those days. "It was a DC-7. It stopped everywhere to refuel -- there were so many stops that I cannot remember them all. And then we had to find a hotel. It was a miracle it all worked out," he said. Broadcasting was a far cry from today's technology. "We connected to a telephone exchange and, through that, our information was transmitted to Argentina. It was a miracle it worked." Once the football started, he was in for a rude awakening. Although it was Argentina's first World Cup appearance since 1934 -- they had withdrawn from the 1938, 1950 and 1954 tournaments -- their dominance in the Copa América had raised expectations.

Portugal v Uruguay: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

"We thought we were the best in the world, including in football. Argentina missed some of the World Cups due to political decisions," he said. "But the illusion was quickly shattered. Czechoslovakia put six goals past us. I couldn't believe it, it was inexplicable. How could we concede six goals to a team who had never heard of? I couldn't handle it and I started smoking again, three years after giving up. It was a tough lesson." Since then, he has seen Argentina win the World Cup twice, in 1978 and 1986, and witnessed at first-hand the career of Diego Maradona, starting with his first Argentina goal in a friendly against Scotland in Glasgow in 1979. He has also seen other legendary teams, including Brazil in 1970. But his favourite of all was the Netherlands team that brought total football to the 1974 World Cup -- even though they did not win the title. "They moved the ball really well, I liked their technical ability, the constant movement, their physical condition. They were a great representation of total football -- players of great quality."

AIPS / FIFA Journalist on the Podium ceremony  - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

He has had what, in football terms, maybe termed a nomadic career. He has worked for at least half a dozen radio stations including Colonia, Belgrano, Provincia, Rivadavia, Mitre, La Red y Del Plata.

He became a household name through television, however, in particular as presenter of the Fútbol de Primero programme during the 1990s. He has also written columns for the newspapers Clarín and La Nacion. Throughout his career, he has made it clear that "my passion is football, rather than journalism", and that he still prefers radio to television. "It was television that made me household name, but a lot of people don't realise that I began working in radio at the age of 15," he said. He is not afraid of technology and is not of those commentators who spends hours scrolling through statistics to prepare for a match. Asked what he did to prepare for a game, he said: “Nothing at all.” For Enrique, it all comes naturally.