Who is Cachureo Aravena, the "mysterious shadow" of Bielsa

Cachureo Aravena appeared behind Bielsa in the first celebrations as soon as the rise of Leeds United was consummated

In August 2007 the Chilean National Association of Professional Football made the agreement by which Marcelo Bielsa took over the selection. The Red He had been absent from the last two World Cups and enjoyed a revolution from the hand of the Argentine coach who had left Albiceleste three years ago due to lack of energy. He Crazy he built his bunker at the Juan Pinto Durán Sports Complex, which was transformed from his arrival. And there he met Gabriel Aravena, who thanks to him adopted the nickname of Cachureo.

– Gabriel, how did you tell me that you call those rubble here in Chile?

– Cachureos, Don Marcelo, cachureos.

The sympathetic phonetics of the synonym of the remains of material that accumulated in a corner of the training ground of the Chilean team triggered a laugh from Bielsa, who since then went to Aravena as Cachureo. That anecdote was probably the beginning of an intimate relationship that lasted over time.

Bielsa squatting and next to his faithful Ladero Cachureo during a match between Chile and Peru for the 2010 Qualifiers (Fotobaires)
Bielsa squatting and next to his faithful Ladero Cachureo during a match between Chile and Peru for the 2010 Qualifiers (Fotobaires)

Aravena had been a professional arbitrator in his country and had collaborated with the ANFP for some time, apart from his work as a laboratory technician at the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Chile. When he introduced himself to Bielsa they chatted for a couple of hours and they both sensed the chemistry in the air. Probably for this reason, the former referee decided to settle next to him during his stay in Chile. "So that he would not feel alone", came to testify.

Bielsa's squire became an important assistant during the calls and trainings. He was in charge of locating cones and stakes, inflating balls, hanging the nets from the arches. But it also featured as emotional support in the extensive periods of analysis and downtime that every coach has. The mutual company made them inseparable.

Identified by the personality traits of hermits and silent types, they spent together mornings, afternoons and evenings chatting, sharing some mate and commenting on the news they saw on television. For Aravena, it was impossible not to transfer to that custom she had once had with her father. That is why he adopted him as a second father or perhaps an older brother, despite being close in age (in fact Cachureo is almost five years older than Marcelo). Bielsa, who never denied her introverted character, under some snatch of inspiration, even dared to recite several tangos in her presence.

Gabriel Aravena and Marcelo Bielsa during training with Athletic Bilbao (EFE)
Gabriel Aravena and Marcelo Bielsa during training with Athletic Bilbao (EFE)

Facing the first commitment that the Bielsa team would have in the Qualifiers for South Africa 2010 (paradoxically against Argentina at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires), the strategist asked his personal secretary if he had ever traveled with the national team. After the negative answer, he confirmed that I was going to be part of the delegation as an assistant.

Juan Román Riquelme's free kick double meant a bad drink for the Red, who would also straighten his course throughout the classification and take out a ticket for the World Cup being an escort to the leader Brazil (along with Paraguay). This fact was a turning point for Chilean soccer, which years later would get its first continental titles.

There was a moment of break when Chile defeated Argentina in Santiago, a result that removed Coconut Basile. “I did not shout the goal or get excited out of respect for Marcelo. It would have been very ugly to shout a goal in front of him, I kept it inside my soul and we hugged each other in the dressing room ”revealed later. That behavior earned him the recognition of the Fool, who obviously took him to South Africa in 2010.

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In early 2011 Bielsa announced his departure from the Chilean team due to differences with the leaders on duty. It was a before and after for Cachureo, who could not contain his tears when the news took on an official tone. However their friendship had been sealed forever.

Humberto "Chita" Cruz (former Chilean player), Bielsa and Cachureo on a visit by El Loco to the trans-Andean country in 2017

Bielsa took the reins of Athletic Bilbao, with which he played in the finals of the Europa League and the Copa del Rey (falls against Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, ​​respectively, in the 2011/2012 season). For his adventure in the Basque Country, he called Cachureo, who did not go unnoticed and was listed in Spain as "The mysterious shadow of Bielsa".

“Aravena acts as a friend simply. It is a way of expressing gratitude to Chile. It is only testimonial. In no way interpret that this gentleman has functions ”, clarified the Rosario publicly when he was consulted by his guardian angel.

The professional destiny of the coach who has just made history in England with Leeds United led him in 2014 to make another European stop in France, where he led the Olympique de Marseille and Lille. And Cachureo filled his ears with the Gallic accent when he was included in his body of collaborators. In addition, in 2017 Bielsa visited him in Chile, taking advantage of the proximity of his tour of Rio de Janeiro in which he had been the protagonist of a soccer symposium. There he made it clear that he remained within his inner circle.

With more than a decade of friendship on top and gray hair, different from the jet black that he looked when he met his friend, Cachureo traveled to West Yorkshire to make the journey of the obsessive DT more familiar, who, in two years of work, never He managed to perfect his English. The presence of his countryman Diego Reyes (the other Chilean right-hand man from Crazy), of the Argentines Diego Flores and Pablo Quiroga, plus the Spaniards Carlos Coroberán (aide-de-camp) and Víctor Orta (sports director) made Leeds Spanish and made Aravena fit in.

Cachureo appeared in the middle of the celebrations with the Leeds players

Once the team's promotion to the Premier was consummated, the fans went to look for Bielsa at his door to congratulate him. In the viral video in which the Argentine clarifies that he does not speak English, he receives affection and thanks with a rudimentary "Thank you, thank you", Cachureo appears from behind with a cell phone, recording a film that he barely shared with his family and showed to his faithful side.

Probably it has gone unnoticed by the role of Bielsa's relief but, in another video broadcast by the English club's social networks, the Chilean appears in the foreground embraced with several players from the squad, for whom at this point he is already an illustrious character.

Cachureo, devoted bielsista, stands firm as he did 13 years ago with the recurring question "What do you need, Don Marcelo?". And Bielsa sleeps peacefully because she knows her squire will be there.


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