Franco Di Santo, Martin Demichelis and Emiliano Insua are just a handful of Argentinian stars to have graced the Bundesliga in recent years. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Franco Di Santo, Martin Demichelis and Emiliano Insua are just a handful of Argentinian stars to have graced the Bundesliga in recent years. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Bundesliga

Cardoso to Di Santo: The Argentinian Connection

Germany and Argentina are two football nations inexorably entwined. On no less than three occasions, these two countries have faced each other in football's biggest game: the FIFA World Cup Final. Two of them ended in German triumphs, most recently in 2014.

The Bundesliga has certainly had its fair share of Argentinian stars, too. Today, Franco di Santo leads the line for FC Schalke 04, David Abraham is a key part of Eintracht Frankfurt's defence and Emiliano Insua has helped lift VfB Stuttgart away from the relegation places since the turn of the year.

- © imago

False start

The story of Argentinians in the Bundesliga, however, did not begin with a bang. It was the summer of 1972 when Christian Rudzki and Horacio Neumann became the first players from the South American nation to try their luck in Germany’s top flight.

One year, four appearances and one goal later, Rudzki left Hannover 96. Neumann fared little better for 1. FC Köln, making only 20 appearances in two and a half years for the Billy Goats before departing for France.

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HSV hero

Nearly two decades later, Jose Horacio 'Nene' Basualdo touched down in Stuttgart in 1989. Basualdo, so the story goes, had only brought two changes of clothes with him, not realising that VfB Stuttgart would sign him up there and then. It would be five months before he saw his family again, but Basualdo was a success, making 44 appearances for VfB and featuring for Argentina in a World Cup Final against Germany while still a Stuttgart player.

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His contemporary, Rodolfo Cardoso, made more Bundesliga appearances than any other Argentinian player before or since, playing 220 times for FC 08 Homburg, SC Freiburg, SV Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV between 1989 and 2004. A fan favourite at Freiburg, it was at HSV that Cardoso eventually settled. He has since become a mainstay of the club's coaching staff, and has had a number of spells as caretaker coach.

Lower Saxony launchpad

Yet it is arguably the current era which is the shining example of the Argentinian success story in the Bundesliga. The likes of Javier Pinola, who spent ten years at 1. FC Nürnberg, and Martin Demichelis, who won four Bundesliga titles with FC Bayern München, may now be gone, but there remains a wealth of talent in the ranks of the 18 Bundesliga clubs.

Santiago Garcia has made 63 appearances for Bremen since joining the North German giants in 2013, while his former team-mate Di Santo is now terrorising defences at Schalke. Abraham, meanwhile, was a member of Argentina's U-20 World Cup winning team of 2005, playing alongside the likes of Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi, who he describes as “a very nice, quiet guy, on and off the field.”

Having arrived in the league in 2013, Abraham is one of the most recent additions to the proud history of Argentinian Bundesliga stars. If that history is anything to go by, he will certainly not be the last.