Where are they now? Argentina's star-studded 2008 gold medallists
LB: Fabian Monzon
The 31-year-old is currently a free agent after leaving Universidad de Chile, which followed various stints to Europe. A return to Boca Juniors for a loan spell in 2015 had brought the only major titles of his career as a Carlos Tevez-led side raced to a league and cup double.
Monzon never really made many waves after the Olympics but had a respectable spell in France with Nice before failing to make the grade at Lyon or Brazilian club Fluminense.
A return to form in Italy with Catania wasn’t enough to reignite an international career that brought just seven senior caps.
MF: Javier Mascherano
Then a midfielder, Mascherano was later converted into a centre-back at Barcelona with great success in the latter stages of his career. While he didn't lift any trophies at Liverpool, who he represented from 2007-2010, the 34-year-old made up for that with 12 major honours during his time in Catalonia – including two Champions League titles.
After sporadic playing time in his first season at the Camp Nou, Mascherano started more regularly a year later at centre-back as the ageing Carles Puyol began taking a backseat. For six seasons thereafter he was an essential part of a highly successful Barça team until leaving for Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune. There, it took him just nine games to score his first goal – after 330 to do the same for Barcelona.
Mascherano was captain of his country under Diego Maradona in November 2008, just months after that Olympic triumph. He maintained that role for three years until Alejandro Sabella gave the captaincy to Lionel Messi.
Though his time is surely coming to an end now, Mascherano held on to a starting spot at the 2018 World Cup and has overtaken Javier Zanetti as the most-capped Argentine player of all time.
MF: Fernando Gago
Tipped for stardom after winning the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, Gago was already a regular starter at Real Madrid when he helped Argentina to the gold medal in Beijing. He was also in the Argentina squad that lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, and came on in the 86th minute of that match to play extra time.
After five seasons at Madrid, and falling down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho in the 2010/11 season, the central midfielder went on a season-long loan to Roma. That was followed by a move back to La Liga in July 2012, this time with Valencia, but that only lasted a few months before Gago was on the move again, on loan to Velez Sarsfield in Argentina.
In July 2013, Gago returned to Boca Juniors – the club where he first played football – but has been plagued by injuries and never made more than 16 league appearances in a campaign since then.
MF: Juan Riquelme
Riquelme was included as one of three over-age players in 2008 – he was 30 at that point of his career – and featured prominently as expected in China, playing in all but one game and netting a penalty in the 3-0 semi-final win over rivals Brazil. Considering he’d retired from international football altogether in 2006 due to his mother’s ill health, it was a particularly satisfying achievement in Albiceleste colours for a player so revered in his home nation and beyond.
He jacked in Argentina commitments for good in 2009 after a fall-out with Diego Maradona (a shock to us, as well), and when he finally retired from football in January 2015, he did so to worldwide fanfare. “He was the second inventor of football – the first were the English over 100 years ago,” wrote journalist Horacio Pagani in tribute. He was not alone.
After a disappointing spell under Louis van Gaal at Barcelona, Riquelme lifted a good if unspectacular Villarreal team to new heights, ending with the crescendo of a Champions League semi-final in 2006. Things were never the same again at El Madrigal, though, and he returned to Boca Juniors where it all began, initially on loan. Six-and-a-half years and two Apertura titles later, he finally left his first club for a sojourn at Argentinos Juniors.
These days he’s really not up to much at all, enjoying his retirement in peace in Buenos Aires – save for some sparse media appearances criticising Boca’s current regime, that is.
MF: Angel Di Maria
The former Benfica, Real Madrid and Manchester United winger may be a household name now, but back in 2008 he was one of the lesser-known faces in Argentina’s Olympics squad.
Scoring a stunning winner in the gold medal match against Nigeria (see below) certainly announced his arrival, though. Since then he's won a major trophy with his club side in every season – barring his ill-fated stay in Manchester in 2014/15.
The 30-year-old, who started his professional career with Argentine outfit Rosario Central in 2005, has made 135 appearances for PSG now and remains an important member of Thomas Tuchel's first-team squad.
Fortunes haven’t been as rosy with the Albiceleste, though; Di Maria and his team-mates have lost the final of their last three tournaments (2010 World Cup, 2015 and 2016 Copa America), and flopped at World Cup 2018 in Russia.