Last week, Diego Maradona was appointed the new manager of Argentinian side Gimansia La Plata. This shocking move created a massive buzz around the side, naturally when it comes to the legendary former player. However, it is a previous Maradona coaching role that created a sudden spark of interest in the Argentinian second division, of all places.
Between 2008 and 2010, Maradona was the Argentinian national team's manager and was dismissed after he led the Albiceleste to another World Cup defeat against Germany. His era as Argentina's gaffer, ridiculously as it may sound, affected the recently closed transfer window in the Primera Nacional, the Argentinian 2nd division's new brand name.
How is that possible? As a result of his very diverse call-up policy during his tenure, which involved him calling up more than 100 players to the national team, a large number of ex-international players joined the league this transfer window. Moreover, the league was expanded to 32 teams, another change by delivered by the AFA. Most of the players in this list have played for the national team, taking advantage of Diego's often arranged friendlies with a domestic-based Argentinian squad.
Juan Mercier - San Martin de Tucuman (Three caps, 2010)
One of the more famous names out of these 'Diego Boys', was seriously taken into account when forming the 2010 World Cup squad list. El Pichi, 39 years old, signed with newly relegated San Martin de Tucuman.
Matias Defederico - Agropecuario (Two caps, one goal, 2009-2011)
Huracan's former wonder kid and a big star alongside Javier Pastore in Angel Cappa's team, almost winning the title a decade ago. Defederico joined Agropecuario, and it's not his first spell in this league, as his career started brilliantly but eventually lost its track.
Patricio Toranzo - Club Almagro (Two caps, 2010)
Another talented player for the great Huracan team, who is famous for continuing his footballing career despite losing parts of his toes after the Huracan bus accident in Venezuela. He signed with Club Almagro.
Hernan Bernardello - Belgrano (One cap, 2009)
This defensive midfielder has a rich European career, playing in Spain for many years, as well as stings in the MLS and Liga MX. He has now settled in Cordoba playing for Belgrano.
Carlos Matheu - Quilmes (One cap, 2010)
The new addition of Quilmes, wore the sacred Albiceleste shirt for only two minutes before suffering an ACL injury in his first and last appearance with it. Unfortunately, his promising career was marred by injuries. He formerly played for Italian sides Atalanta, Cagliari and Siena.
Daniel 'Cata' Diaz - Nueva Chicago (12 caps, one goal, 2003-2009)
Perhaps the biggest names to join the league, formerly of Boca, Getafe and Atletico Madrid, among others. Diaz played for Maradona as well, although was given his debut prior to his appointment, and had a more significant international career; the 40 year old center back with the face of a killer, signed with Nueva Chicago after a few months of retirement.
Clemente Rodriguez - Barracas Central (20 caps, 2003-2013)
Similarly to Diaz, Rodriguez was already an established international before and after Maradona’s. He played in the 2010 World Cup and won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing 2008. He will play for Barracas Central's ambitious project. Most famous for his Boca Juniors stints.
Pablo Ledesma - Club Atletico Alvarado (Four caps, 2007)
Another ex-Boca player, with some international experience in Italy, arrives to the league this transfer window, joining Alvarado. In contrast to the others, he never played for Maradona.
An honorable mention goes to Club Tigre, who have four former internationals on their books. Vastly experienced players such as rated Walter Montillo and fan-favourite Diego 'Cachete' Morales, would want to return to the Superliga quickly. Also in the squad, two more "Diego Boys", Ignacio Canuto and Leonardo Prediger.
Naturally, the Argentinian 2nd division usually doesn't get much coverage, apart from when mathematicians are trying to understand the system of play and structure. It is remained to be seen whether these players will help raise its popularity. Usually, this is more likely to happen thanks to the relegation of a well-supported Superliga club, but we in BabaGol hope this league can get some better-deserved attention, and it is these beautiful stories which can make it happen.