“I said fate was already marked, because there, if I played as a starter, the goal didn’t even make it,” he recalls from afar. Matthias Sebastien Arce. On December 17, 2000, at the dawn of the new millennium, his face made the cover of all the magazines. Boca was already world champion. He had touched the zenith after defeating the real Madrid In Japan. But the party was not complete.
Matías, he admits, “had trouble concentrating.” However, that day, I felt that “something” was going to happen. Boca needed a victory to crown their hat-trick and complete the best year in their history: “I finished the warm-up under the stands, where it used to be, in the fields, and everything has changed”. With nostalgia, and the illusion of returning to that moment, Arce evokes the importance of the most experienced players in the hottest moments. “The biggest gave me his support: ‘Pepe’ (Basualdo), Roman (Riquelme), Skipper (Bermuda). As soon as I walked in, I took the first step right and it all started to come out for me,” he recalls.
Convinced that history was being written, the times of Boca and Arce joined this sunny afternoon of (almost) summer. “I was with…you see when you say you’re very confident?” What’s going to happen? That day it happened. I’ve felt it before.” In the 19th minute of the second half, Riquelme assists Guillermo. El Mellizo, like so many other times, held the mark and unloaded as a signal with Arce. The kid had entered on the playing field at halftime. 29 minutes were enough to go down in Boca history.
Married, father of three children (Delfina, 15, Thiago, 9, and Mateo, 5) and part of the club of his life, in the role of ninth coach alongside Mauro Navas, Arce admits that this goal changed his life“I’m just going on vacation with my friends. We are going to buy the newspaper and it was on all the magazine covers. I wasn’t used to it. It’s like it kinda makes you dizzy.” Six months later, Arce had a conversation with Carlos Bianchi, where the possibility of being loaned out to Belgrano came up. “Carlos said to me: ‘Mati , I have two options. If you want to leave, you leave for the growth of your game; otherwise, you will continue to fight it here,” he claimed. In the end, the steering wheel leaned towards the first option and ended up in the “Pirate”, where he had a great season.
He even played against Boca at La Bombonera, and caused the expulsion of his friend Sebastián Battaglia, now coach of the first. “He hit me. Supposedly, I threw myself. He had a yellow. I’m a very good friend of Seba. I remember him tagging me. We had a barbaric game. I I was ready to go again,” he recalls that time.
“It helped me because I play almost 30, 35 games in a year,” he comments. However, on his return, the professional team, led at the time by the “Master” Tabarez, was in pre-season in the United States. There he made the decision to accept a new loan, this time, to Gimnasia de La Plata, a decision he denies today. “Do you know how nice it is to continue playing at Boca? It kills me. Because I’m leaving? Oh my God! I had to wait for the first class team to arrive, and I’m going to gymnastics! It was my mistake to go back”. Today a sentence that circulates in the corridors of Brandsen 805, or these days, on the grassy paths of the Ezeiza property, resonates in him: “You never have to leave Boca”.
“At one point, I didn’t have any flyers. Boca played with central midfielders. There were all five of them and there were no flyers, so that’s where it got its start (Nahuel) Fioretto, people who started serving from below because they didn’t have any and I left, and I knew that by fighting I could fight for a starting position. But it’s kid stuff, you want to go play, and you don’t realize where you are, ”he points out from afar.
For Arce, Boca was a place of contention. Arrived at the club at the age of 16, he had suffered the separation of his parents at home and the sudden departure of his mother. This, he says, made him stronger. Around him, on the other hand, he had uprooted colleagues. It was not his case. “I grew up with my father. My old man went to work and I was left alone with my older brother. It was easier for me to come to the capital. There was a lady who was like our mother, who was Mirtawe talked about our problems with her, or Marawho was the psychologist. I was more protected. It made me strong, and that’s why I came.”
In Buenos Aires, for example, he learned to express his emotions, which is not so common for him. “My dad is a crack, he raised me, everything, but he wasn’t very familiar. We were very dry. If I had to cry, I cried in four walls, I didn’t show anyone”. This hardened character, however, did not leave him with a grudge with his mother, with whom today he has rediscovered his link, full of scars: “She only got closer. There’s affection, but that’s not what I’m asking ‘a hug, mum’. No, I’m drier. And her too, because left us alone with my father”.
In the Casa Amarilla boarding house, “I lived with (Sebastien) Battaglia, (Nicolas) Burdisso, Julius (Walking). We were all like brothers”. Shortly after, this group of young people, of the 80′ and 81′ categories, began to get to know the older ones. “We knew what we wanted, that you had a coach who looked at the inferiors a lot. At the time it was very practical. The technical staff was going to see the fourth, the fifth. We felt important. If we did things right. We knew we had this opportunity, that there was a coach watching us,” he said.
The first pre-season came to him at the mythical “Posada de los Pájaros” in Tandil, known for the demands that the physical trainer placed on footballers Julius Santelleand which Arce illustrates graphically: “It was throw up and carry on. It’s not that we vomited food: we vomited water. We drank water and vomited water, and we carried on like that”. He defines Bianchi as “a father”. “Bianchi was a teacher who taught me everything: how to live a career in Boca, how to live off the pitch. He was like a father in the sense that he told you what to do, how to manage.” And he evokes one of his secrets: “He didn’t catch you in front of the group. He caught you alone, in four walls, and he already knew everything about you, your movements, how he had to handle you, and if you derailed, he put you in the axis so that you went straight.
Meanwhile, one of Bianchi’s virtues stands out as something he tries to replicate as a coach: that substitutes are happy: “I had them all the same, happy, motivated. He knew that the one behind him was going to answer him. I had motivated him, good. It’s not that he worked on it two days before the game.”
Although his career has taken him through Italy, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Peru and Bolivia, among other countries, he believes that as a footballer, “could have given a lot more”. “Trained me, I was an interesting player. Steering wheel with punch… Today is very different from before. Before it was more difficult to play, ”he describes. Now, in his role as a coach for 14-year-old boys, he empathizes with these teenagers who live far from their families, and it’s his job to be above them. “The mother who calls him there, when she tells him I miss you to a child, you do it badly, because the child feels it. It makes you doubt and you don’t know where you are. It’s not easy to live here, to leave your parents”.
He retired to San Miguel at the age of 35. He had more to give. He could have emigrated to other clubs in South America, but the family was stronger. “I decided not to be alone. My children were already grown up, they had made partners. Get them back…it’s like they’re going to go through this, get them out of their grandparents. I decided to give a little aside”, he analyzes.
First, he ventured as a scout for Boca inside the country, a role he felt comfortable with, as it involved stories like his. “He traveled a lot, he was always looking for players.” Later, in order not to be alone with this, he decided to take the coaching course. From his work, he likes to pass on to the boys his experience as a footballer from the provinces. “It’s not easy to be retired,” he says.
His work in the coaching staff of Mauro Navas, technical issues aside, aims to keep players motivated and on top of people. Arce knows that if they are in Boca, the raw material is there. If something does not work, most likely, it is due to a bad mood. “If you’re in a good mood, you already have a tactic. And you play well. You are there for a reason.”
Recently, he had to manage a situation experienced by a young person in which he was able to apply the Bianchi recipe. “Now there was a trip to Paraguay that didn’t work out. He was disabled. He stayed with me for two weeks, and what was I? Motivating every day, that he must return there, that there is no winger like him, left-handed, powerful. I wanted to get it back. Play the championship game and smash it”. The same boy suffered the death of his grandmother and Arce is already waiting for his return. “He had to travel south, but we have to see how he comes back now, but we had already picked him up, we were picking him up. I said to Mauro: ‘Look, he’s come back very well, he can’t wait to go back. ‘be there. He talks to her all the time, giving her that importance all day. So you know when he gets there, he’ll be on par with everyone else. It’s about being there every day, seeing every player’s problem. That’s how things are done.” So, Arce realized his things.