Monday 29 February 2016, 10:04

Passarella at the pinnacle

  • Argentina legend Daniel Passarella​ turns 67 today

  • He captained La Albiceleste to World Cup glory on home soil

  • Passarella: "When you're handed the cup, you feel numb"

This is how it feels to lift the FIFA World Cup™.

An image of sheer bliss, its subject – Argentina’s conquering captain, Daniel Passarella – was able to give a graphic description of the sensations it captured. "When you're handed the cup, you feel numb,” he told “It's like a never-ending orgasm. That might sound vulgar but it's true. You have to experience it to understand.”

At the moment this was taken on 25 June 1978, Passarella was the only Argentinian to have sampled that unique ecstasy. As the inspirational skipper of the first Albiceleste team to win football’s greatest prize, it was a reward hard earned and richly deserved. And while many of his fellow countrymen would eventually follow him in clutching this most coveted of trophies, ‘El Gran Capitán’ proved in no rush to share the experience.

“Daniel didn't want to give it to anyone,” Mario Kempes, Argentina’s two-goal hero in the 1978 Final, recalled with a laugh. “I never got to touch it once! He had his elbows up in typical Passarella style, so no-one could get it off him. He even refused to hand it over to the security men who came to the dressing room to retrieve it.”

And while Passarella would be reunited with his prize in 1986, by that time he was a squad player, the captaincy having passed to Diego Maradona. It would be 1978 - and this historic moment of joy - that would forever remain the pinnacle of his extraordinary career.