Where are they now? Argentina's star-studded 2008 gold medallists
FW: Lionel Messi
Messi was already a star for Barcelona when he arrived in Beijing; a regular starter for his country and a runner-up to FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka. Today, he's widely considered the best player in the world – and perhaps of all time.
The boy once diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency has done good: a five-time Ballon d'Or winner since 2009, Barcelona's record goalscorer, and a multiple winner of every major trophy on offer at the Camp Nou.
An inability to single-handedly inspire Argentina to a trophy, though, has often been used as a rod to beat him with. The Albiceleste reached the 2014 World Cup Final and three Copa America finals (2007, 2015 and 2016) but fell short each time, prompting Messi to shock the world with his international retirement (a decision he reversed barely two months later). Sadly for him, 2018 didn't go any better.
FW: Sergio Aguero
Widely recognised among the top forwards in world football, 'Kun' Aguero is one of the true success stories from the class of 2008. Since joining Manchester City in 2011 he has become their all-time top goalscorer and helped fire them to three Premier League titles, establishing himself as England's most lethal marksman with enviable consistency.
Aguero was Messi's room-mate in Beijing and the two have remained best friends ever since. They have also clicked on the field for Argentina, but an untimely injury to Aguero meant the 2014 World Cup saw the duo at below their best. Other fitness issues have meant that Aguero has been unable to show his best at major international competitions – cruel, for one of the best strikers football has ever seen.
Jose Sosa – 79’ substitute for Aguero
Sosa endured an unsettled few seasons following his Olympic gold, representing five clubs in the ensuing six years. He returned to his homeland with Estudiantes for a year, then went to Napoli before popping up in Ukraine with Metalist Kharkiv.
There he was instrumental to the club’s good performances in the 2011/12 season, and earned the captain’s armband ahead of the next campaign. Sosa's encouraging performances, coupled with growing Metalist debts, resulted in a loan to Atletico Madrid, where he finished with a Liga medal and featured in their 2014 Champions League Final defeat.
A permanent transfer didn't materialise, however, so Sosa joined Besiktas instead. In his second season he won a second domestic title in three years as the Black Eagles soared to the top of Turkey for the first time in seven seasons. That earned him a move to Milan ahead of the 2016/17 season, kicking off a two-year spell that eventually ended with a 2018 switch to Trabzonspor.
Ever Banega – 88’ substitute for Di Maria
The mercurial Banega is back at Sevilla these days, having briefly swapped the former Europa League winners for Inter Milan in the 2016/17 campaign.
It’s no wonder they wanted him back after he starred in their march to European success once again in 2016, and was man of the match in the 2015 Europa League Final against Dnipro.
The 30-year-old former Boca Juniors star has racked up 65 caps for Argentina, most recently at the 2018 World Cup, having featured for the Albiceleste sporadically during a career that has also featured stints at Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Newell’s Old Boys.
Banega failed to make the 2010 and 2014 Argentina World Cup squads but had served his country well at Copa America level before 2018, making the cut in 2011 and finishing as a runner-up in the 2015 and 2016 editions.
Ezequiel Lavezzi – 93’ substitute for Messi
After the Olympics, ‘El Pocho’ spent four more years in Italy with Napoli, establishing himself as a fan favourite. Although he only scored in double figures twice in his five years there, Lavezzi often popped up with crucial goals and conjured up numerous assists. He also lifted the Italian Cup in his final season before departing for PSG in summer 2012.
In France, the diminutive forward continued thriving. Together with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they formed a fearsome attack that proved to be unstoppable as PSG lifted four straight league titles and five domestic cups.
In February 2016, though, Lavezzi moved to the Chinese Super League with Hebei China Fortune – reportedly earning him £10m per season. He claimed to have spurned the advances of Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan.
Despite his successful club career, Lavezzi never featured as frequently as he would have liked with Argentina, given the weight of competition. He's amassed 51 caps for his country, but hasn't featured for them since the 2016 Copa America semi-finals.