Vienna. (APA) The Argentinean Mario Kempes is considered one of the best footballers in history. In his homeland, he was in 1978 World Cup top scorer and elected player of the tournament. From the spring of 1986 he sang for a year and a half for the First Vienna Football Club, which turns 125 on August 22nd. On this occasion, Kempes is making a comeback this week on the Hohe Warte. Today, the 65-year-old works as an expert for the Latin American division of the TV channel ESPN. In this role, he is not least a close observer of his countryman Lionel Messi, whom he has always defended in the face of tough criticism. In an interview with the APA, Kempes also talked about his time in Austria, his short, "experience-oriented" coaching career and his birthday wish for the Vienna.
"Wiener Zeitung": From 1986 they were six years in Austria. What did you like about the country so much that you stayed so long?
Mario Kempes: The culture, the people, the flair. Austria is a great country and Vienna a fantastic city. The most important thing was that I could continue to play football. But I felt extremely comfortable here. Even when I played for St. Pölten and Krems, I lived in Vienna. I always like to remember this time.
Why did you find it tempting to play at the smaller Austrian clubs Krems and St. Pölten after Vienna?
The challenge has always irritated me. Just because they are smaller clubs does not mean that they did not have as much ambitions and goals as the big clubs. I have always done my best. And I saw in all the clubs the conditions given to play at the highest level.
At that time in Vienna, were you often recognized and addressed on the street, in the supermarket?
It was not important for me to be recognized. I wanted to have fun with football.
How did you feel about the level of play in Austria?
The level was anything but low, if you allude to it. Even then, there were clubs like Rapid, the Austria, which were internationally competitive and successful. At the Vienna we tried to reach the level of European competitors.
They have trained clubs in countries like Albania, Bolivia and Indonesia. What was the reason to accept this sometimes "exotic" offers?
I had these offers easy, and the challenge appealed to me. I did not do that for the money. On the ground, it was not only challenging, but sometimes difficult. That made you tired in the long run.
Have you never wanted to train big clubs in Argentina or Europe?
Every coach wants to coach a big club. In 1999 I became Bolivian master with The Strongest. That was my first championship title as a coach. But towards the end things happened that I did not like. Then I stopped. Over the years, I've seen how much fun I have today as a commentator for the American television channel ESPN.
Who is the better, more complete footballer for you? Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
Why is not Messi in the national team as desired and expected by many Argentines?
Messi is the best player in the world. And fortunately he is Argentinean. He will meet and assemble with the national coach, who will make sure to put his best colleagues to Argentina for the third time to become world champion. I am not one who gives Messi advice. He has to do what he thinks is right.
What do you wish Vienna for the next 125 years?
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you most sincerely. I look forward to the club, all friends and all those who wore the blue-and-yellow jersey to celebrate this feast day together on Thursday. The Vienna is a great traditional club. I wish that one continues to speak with so much respect, appreciation and sympathy from the Vienna. (APA)