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Cancer claims Argentine World Cup winner ‘Crazy’ Houseman

Champions: This file picture taken on May 23, 2006, features former World Cup winners Oscar Ruggeri (left; 1986) and Rene Houseman (centre; 1978) with former Argentine national team player Juan Roman Riquelme © AFP/File / Juan MABROMATA

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Mar 23 – Argentine World Cup winner Rene “Loco” Houseman died of tongue cancer at the age of 64 on Thursday.

Houseman was a tricky right winger in his day who drew comparisons to Brazilian great Garrincha.

He scored 12 goals in 53 Argentina appearances and helped the side win the 1978 World Cup on home soil.

“That’s life… it ends badly,” Houseman’s former coach Cesar Louis Menotti said on radio Cooperativa at the announcement of Houseman’s death.

“We were used to this threat these last few months but he kept getting through it.

“This time, he couldn’t. It’s sad.”

Born in Buenos Aires, Houseman made his name under Menotti at local side Huracan and was soon called up to the national team under his former club boss.

He played at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, scoring three goals as Argentina crashed out in the second group stage.

Four years later, though, he was part of Menotti’s side that upset the highly fancied Netherlands in the final at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, coming on as a substitute 15 minutes from time.

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“I don’t think another player like this who conquered the hearts of the masses can be found so quickly,” added Menotti.

His death comes just eight days after that of fellow World Cup winner from 1978, Ruben Galvan, a former midfielder who died of cirrhosis at the age of 65.

Brought up in a poor neighbourhood and known as a rebel, Houseman picked up the nickname “loco”, which means “crazy”.

Following his career he suffered from alcohol problems.

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