Diego Cocca’s special bond with Daniel Passarella and Ricardo La Volpe
Two coaches who marked the career and the present of the new coach of the Mexican National Team.
Newly-appointed Mexico coach Diego Martín Cocca, forged a special bond with two Argentinean coaches who left their mark him throughout his career - one, right at the start of his career as a professional player; the other, who encouraged him to go into coaching: Daniel Passarella, and Ricardo La Volpe.
Cocca started out as a central defender in the youth categories at River Plate. It was Passarella who handed him his top flight debut in February 1991 - a baptism of fire as he played the full 90 minutes of the Superclásico against Boca Juniors, barely two weeks after his 19th birthday. In that team, he played alongside prominent players such as Ramón Díaz, Ángel David Comizzo, Guillermo Rivarola, and Burrito Ortega among others.
He celebrated his debut season as River were crowned Apertura champions, under the technical leadership of El Kaiser. During his time at River, the club he has supported all of his life, he played a total of 25 games and scored one goal.
“Passarella taught me to be a winner. He handed me my debut when I was still only 19, as a centre-back - a difficult position at a huge club like River Plate. He helped to develop me, giving me the aggressiveness I needed in games - a quality that I still maintain today,” he told Excelsior in a recent interview.
With La Volpe, the story is different. He once declared that his coaching career is all down to Ricardo. He got to know La Volpe in the late 90s when he moved to Mexico to play with Atlas. “La Volpe opened my mind to think as a coach. It was there (in Mexico) that I decided to be a coach,” he told the Argentine media after becoming champion with Racing Club, in 2014.
His first tactical notes were taken in Guadalajara working alongside La Volpe. “The guy would throw you a battery of information that wasn’t easy to digest - just like that. I was 28 years old and I found something new and I wanted to interpret it, to look for the why and for what, and I began not only to take notes, but to move pieces out on the pitch. That’s where I found the taste for coaching,” he said in an interview with El Gráfico, in 2019.
One with more weight mentally and the other tactically, Passarella and La Volpe, two men, two coaches who were key in the soccer and professional career of Mexico’s new coach.