Lionel Scaloni becoming Argentina boss ‘no surprise’ to ex-West Ham pal Harewood

Take a look down the list of managers at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and you'll find some pretty familiar faces.

From Gareth Southgate and England to Roberto Martinez and Belgium, most of the major nations have someone in charge who had some experience at the top level before venturing into the international game. But not Argentina.

Argentina, the two-time World Cup winners, are managed by someone who played 17 games on loan at West Ham during the 2005-2006 season, culminating in their agonising FA Cup final defeat on penalties by Liverpool.

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Lionel Scaloni, 44, probably isn't a name that resonates with most Premier League fans. But the former Upton Park loanee has been charged with instructing Lionel Messi what to do on the international stage since Argentina's abject failure at the 2018 World Cup.

Do you remember Lionel Scaloni as a player? Let us know in the comments section below.

For a man who had never held a senior position prior to that time, he's not done bad at all. In 2021, Scaloni led Argentina to the Copa America title, delivering Messi the first international honour of his career that he so craved. One year later, Scaolini guided Argentina to a 3-0 win over Italy in the first ever Finalissima.

And as he prepares to lead Argentina into a World Cup for the very first time, his former West Ham team-mate Marlon Harewood sat down with Daily Star Sport to discuss what the 44-year-old former full-back was like as a player.

"Our dressing room was quite good to be fair," Harewood tells us, a statement backed up by the Hammers' impressive run to the 2006 FA Cup final. "We were good at team bonding. Anyone who came in there, we used to look after them.

"Lads who came in from overseas – or wherever they came from – we used to try and make them as welcome as possible. As soon as he [Scaloni] came in he felt very welcome and that made it easier for him to bed in.

"He was a nice chilled lad who got on with everyone. He was a decent player, being an Argentina international, so it was nice having a player of his calibre in the team. He expressed himself, he was talking and telling us how he was, it was nice to see."

The West Ham team of 05-06 was one that had plenty of characters. From former Manchester United man Teddy Sheringham to club captain Nigel Reo-Coker and established stars like James Collins and Paul Konchesky, it wasn't short of a dressing room presence.

That might have made it difficult for Scaloni's voice to be heard after his arrival in the January of that season, but Harewood insists he showed his managerial qualities by not being afraid to give an opinion or two.

"We had a lot of characters in that dressing room in terms of leaders," he continues. "When he had a chance to speak up he spoke up, because when you’re on that pitch, everyone needs to speak to help each other.

"If he needed to speak, he would say stuff because in his position you need to talk. What I can remember of him he was very vocal in the sense that when he needed people to help out and when he needed people to help him, he used to talk."

But could anyone have ever have predicted that the Deportivo loanee would go on to become the boss of one of the international game's most-feared sides? Harewood says he isn't surprised at all.

"It’s funny you say that, because a lot of players that I’ve played with you don’t really know their futures and what they’re going to go into.

"When you’re talking about players like Scaloni, I don’t think he even knew what he was going to go into. But you could tell he had the calibre of a calm and collected person that was well-respected and who knew about the game. You could tell from when he spoke in meetings and stuff how he could go on.

"It doesn’t surprise me really. Things like that never surprise me. Fair play to him if he can take that on. It’s like anything, you go into something and if you think you’re capable of doing it. If you’re well-respected you’ll do a good job.

"He’s done a very, very good job since he’s been there and now he has an opportunity to look after some world class players, so fair play to him."

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