Before I met him, I’d been drifting a bit after leaving my native Argentina. I worked as an accountant in a furniture shop. As a clerk. I had to be there eight hours a day. Working out the money that came in and went out.
I always used to say that a monkey would take 10 minutes to do that job – and I had to be there for eight hours. I despaired. It was clear to me that my life had to be something more than that.
I was also selling lamps. Some friends started a business making them, and I was going house to house trying to sell them. It was tough. I couldn’t sell water in a desert. So can you imagine me trying to sell someone a lamp.
One day, fed up with everything, I said to my wife: “I am going to do the manager’s course. That’s my thing. I’ll do it and see what happens.”
“César has a youthful enthusiasm for the game. He talks about Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne”
I trained in Spain. Three years in total, including a month in Seville.
It was while I was doing my badges that my relationship with Menotti, who was then the Argentina manager, started. It came about through an old teammate from my time playing in Bahía Blanca back in Argentina; he was now working on their technical staff, and he needed someone in Spain ahead of the 1982 World Cup.
Argentina were the defending champions, and they were looking for someone who could give them information – both on the European teams and the Argentinian players who were playing on the continent. But it had to be someone who nobody knew, that the press wouldn’t know. They picked me.
I travelled all over Europe, passing information on about matches and players.
I eventually met Menotti in person at a friendly Argentina played against England at Wembley in 1980. England won 3-1 on the day, but during the game a young Diego Maradona (below) dribbled past everyone – that time, however, he just missed the goal.