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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Sorin soars to fresh fields
John Hartson of Wales attempts to outmuscle Juan Pablo Sorin
Sorin (right) is strong on the ball

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One of Argentina's key players said a fond farewell to Brazil last weekend.

Juan Pablo Sorin left Cruzeiro the way he wanted - scoring a vital goal which confirmed the club as winners of the Sul-Minas trophy - one of Brazil's most important regional cups.

Italy-bound after the World Cup, Sorin says that he would love to return to Cruzeiro one day, and he seems to mean it.

His spell in Brazil has been an important stage in the career of a player who looks set to have a splendid World Cup.

'Juanpi' Sorin was captain of the Argentina side which won the 1995 World Youth Cup.

A glittering future was promised, but he was overawed by life with Italian giants Juventus and was soon back in Argentina.

This failure to adapt to new circumstances left a scar on the young man's mind.

His subsequent career has been a personal crusade to prove his own adaptability, on and off the pitch.

He narrowly missed out on the last World Cup when coach Passarella made the move to a back three, with no place for full backs.

Juan Pablo Sorin
Sorin is the final piece in Argentina's footballing jigsaw
Although he had played the 1995 World Youth Cup in central defence, a lack of height and fragile build meant that at senior level he was a specialist left-back.

Current coach Marcelo Bielsa took over after France 98, and Sorin was straight back in the squad.

But when Bielsa also opted to do away with specialist full backs, Sorin was relegated to the bench.

The player then set about convincing the coach that he could play in midfield.

He kept working on his game, and his introduction to the side during qualification was the final, vital part in Argentina's jigsaw.

Bielsa's men had just been beaten by Brazil and outplayed by Paraguay.

In both games they had looked light in midfield, a serious deficiency for a side so committed to attack.

Sorin came in for the next match and has been undisputed first choice ever since.

Suddenly Argentina's blend was right.

With his scampering stamina, Sorin tightened the team's marking, while also charging forward to supply attacking options, and score important goals.

His value to Argentina's attack was emphasised once more in the recent friendly against Germany, when he cut in from the flank to head home the only goal of the game.

The combination of work-rate and basic technique make Sorin indispensable to Argentina's World Cup quest.

He has also proved - not least to himself - that he can adapt to life outside Argentina.

He was concerned about the move to Brazil; not just because of his nationality, but also because he was a left-back going to a country that produces left-backs by the cart load.

But he quickly became an idol with the Cruzeiro supporters, a symbol of skill and will to win.

Sorin deserved to leave Brazil on a high note, and will seek to leave Japan on a note higher still.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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