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Where are they now? Argentina's star-studded 2008 gold medallists

Argentina 2008 Olympics

On this day in August 2008, a sublimely talented Argentina under-23 team won gold in Beijing, beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final. Turns out those kids have done all right...

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Manager: Sergio Batista

A decade since guiding Argentina to the 2008 Olympic gold medal, Batista will look back to the Beijing Games as his finest moment in the dugout.

Having started his coaching career with Bella Vista in Uruguay in 2000, the former World Cup winner returned to Argentina the following year to coach several domestic sides before joining the Argentina Football Association in 2007. Two months after winning gold, Batista linked up with his 1986 team-mate and captain Diego Maradona as part of his coaching set-up with the senior national team.

He later took charge for a year, initially on a caretaker basis, after Maradona was sacked following the 2010 World Cup. The former defensive midfielder left the post after a disappointing Copa America campaign in 2011.

Batista shifted to China for a stint with Shanghai Shenhua in May 2013 but left a year later due to the club’s financial woes. He returned in 2014 for a temporary gig after the club was rebranded, and was then appointed to the Bahrain post in May 2015.

Batista and Bahrain parted ways in May after failing to advance to the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers following a disastrous second round, where the Middle Eastern side lost five of its eight group matches. He hasn't managed since.

GK: Sergio Romero

He never would have thought it back in 2008, but things really wouldn’t get much better for Romero than that Olympic gold in Beijing. Ten years on he’s represented his country at two World Cups (man of the match in the 2014 semi-final against Holland, no less) and two Copa America tournaments, but didn't win any of them, and has spent a sizeable chunk of his club career warming benches – particularly in recent years.

It had all looked so promising for the 6ft 3in shot-stopper – after Beijing he became AZ Alkmaar’s first-choice keeper for three seasons, winning the Eredivisie title in 2008/09, and later joined then-Serie B side Sampdoria in 2011.

Since 2013/14, though, he’s mustered only 20 league appearances for three clubs: Sampdoria, Monaco and Manchester United, where he still plays understudy to David de Gea, having joined English football’s most decorated side on a free transfer in 2015. A knee inury ruled him out of the 2018 World Cup and start of the new Premier League campaign. 

RB: Pablo Zabaleta

The full-back was a mainstay at Manchester City for nine years after joining in 2008, making 332 appearances for the Citizens before joining West Ham on a free transfer in 2017. 

At Manchester City he was an integral part of the 2012 and 2014 title-winning squads, and was even among the goalscorers in the 3-2 victory over QPR on the madcap final day of the 2011/12 season when Roberto Mancini's team snatched the Premier League title from rivals Manchester United. He was also named the club’s player of the season in 2012/13, highlighting the impact he made on the blue half of Manchester.

On the international front, however, it hasn’t all been smooth-sailing for Zabaleta. He wasn't selected in the final squad by then head coach Diego Maradona for the 2010 World Cup, but was in the team that made it all the way to the final in 2014. He hasn't retired from international duty yet – 58 caps and counting – but wasn't part of Jorge Sampaoli's squad in 2018. 

CB: Ezequiel Garay

Centre-back Garay played in every match bar the group-ending dead-rubber with Serbia, helping the Argentine defence leak just two goals in six matches. Tight, but then they didn’t concede any en route to gold in 2004.

Having been plucked from Newell’s Old Boys by Racing Santander in late 2005, Garay was bought by Real Madrid the month before the Olympics but never nailed down a permanent Bernabeu berth, and in 2011 was shipped to Benfica in the Fabio Coentrao swap deal.

In 2014, the Eagles did the domestic treble and lost a second successive Europa League final. Garay was signed by Zenit St Petersburg shortly before his shootout penalty helped send Argentina to the World Cup final, where he was one of seven players who had also appeared in the 2008 Olympic decider.

Turning 32 this October, Garay was a regular fixture in the transfer gossip columns and eventually joined Valencia in 2016. 

CB: Nicolas Pareja

Pareja is hoping for much better fortunes at Sevilla in 2018/19, having spent much of last season sidelined with injury. The centre-back has been with the Andalusians since 2014. 

Following his Olympic gold, Pareja moved on from Anderlecht in Belgium to Espanyol, before spending three years in Russia with Spartak Moscow. He returned to Spain in 2013, initially on loan, but hasn't managed to add to his single senior cap for Argentina (picked up in 2010). Sampaoli called him up for a 2018 World Cup qualifier, but Pareja didn't make it onto the pitch. 

He didn’t get off to the best of starts under his former coach at Sevilla, however, getting sent off just 28 minutes into a friendly with Colombian club Santa Fe. Thankfully for him, things have improved for the 34-year-old since.