Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero has expressed confidence that Argentina’s star-studded squad will do well at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Argentina will hope to go one better after losing 1-0 to Germany at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The last time Argentina tasted World Cup glory was at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico led by the legendary Diego Maradona and stars like Nery Pumpido, Jorge Valdano, Jorge Burruchaga and Oscar Ruggeri.
The two-time World Cup champions are in Group D with Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland at this year’s finals.
Caballero, 36, who only made his debut for Argentina in a 2-0 win against Italy in March this year and has three caps, says it is a dream come true representing his country at the FIFA World Cup.
“I arrived at Chelsea this summer after probably the best season I had as a City player but when I joined, I wasn’t involved with the national team,” Caballero told chelseafc.com.
“It was only a couple of months ago when I received my first cap, which was a great feeling for me and my family.
“Since then, I have just tried to work hard and take my opportunity to try and reach the World Cup and when I found out the news that I was going, it was such an amazing feeling.
“I always dreamed when I was a kid that I could go to the World Cup with Argentina. I realised this dream somewhat before when I went to the Under-20 World Cup, but that is not the same as this time. It is the top, the pinnacle for any professional player and I can’t wait to go out to Russia this summer.
“When you hear the national anthem of your country playing, it makes you so proud and I will be honoured to represent Argentina at the World Cup. I hope that we can have a good tournament on the pitch too.
“We have a lot of good players in the squad so we are confident. Obviously we have Lionel Messi but we also have the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Angel Di Maria who can all win games on their own. But the most important thing is to have a great team of great players, we must always work as a team.
“We also have players like Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio and Javier Mascherano, who all work hard defensively. We have to have a good team spirit and work hard for one another. That will be key to our success.”
Caballero who was in the Argentine squads that won the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup on home soil and the 2004 Athens Olympic football gold, recalled how he cried when Argentina lost to Germany in the final of the 1990 World Cup.
“Football means everything to the people back home. It’s like the entire country shuts down to watch the games. Nobody moves from their house, they are all glued to their TV’s watching the World Cup and hoping the team does well,” he added.
“Every game to the Argentinian public is like the final of the Champions League, it’s going to be great. We have a great passion for football and we can’t wait to get started now.
“My first memory of watching the World Cup was Mexico 86, where Argentina won the tournament. It was great for the country but I didn’t really enjoy it because I was only five years old, so I didn’t fully understand what was happening.
“Four years later, at Italia 90, I enjoyed this a lot more because I watched all the games. I cried a lot when we lost the final to Germany but I knew from this point, I wanted to be a professional player. I dreamed that one day I could be in the position that the players were and from that moment onwards, I prayed to God to have this opportunity and would work hard every single day. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to become a footballer and now I want to do well at the World Cup for my country.
“Just to be part of a World Cup with the national team makes me so proud. I’m 36 now and I’ve waited a long time, but I’m here now and I want to enjoy this tournament, help the team and do my very best.
“Hopefully I can do a good job and, as a team, we can have a successful tournament. But I’m ready and I can’t wait to get started now.”