Football Nomads – Claudio Caniggia

Former Argentina international Claudio Caniggia might not be your typical football nomad and might not even be known by many who currently follow football. Capped by Argentina 50 times, the Argentine played for a total of nine clubs between 1985 and 2004. Educated at Argentinian top club River Plate, where he accumulated 53 senior appearances and eight goals, Caniggia eventually ventured out into the world of European club football, when he joined Italian club Hellas Verona in 1988. Intriguingly, the forward did not only have an eventful career as a footballer, but also a life packed with a set of compelling events.

Playing as a winger at times, the quick forward had a decent enough first season in Italian football and managed 21 appearances and three goals for the Northern Italians. The following season, Caniggia moved on to Atalanta, continuing his Italian adventure in the process. This move was a breakthrough of sorts and the Argentinian became a cult hero at the club, contributing 26 goals in 85 appearances in three seasons. He would later return to the club, but in 1992, the opportunity to move to one of Italy’s giants proved too hard to resist.

In 1992, Caniggia made the move to the Italian capital and joined one of Serie A’s finest, when he confirmed his move to Roma. The hype that came with the move however, proved too much and the forward only managed 15 appearances and four goals for Roma. This was mainly due to a 13-month ban Caniggia received for taking cocaine. It was clear that the Argentinian was struggling with the fame that comes with a being a footballer in the limelight. Although there was a lot of doubt about the forward’s personal choices, the same could not be said about his talents.

As a result, after the end of his ban, Caniggia earned himself a move to Portuguese top-club Benfica, where he made 23 appearances and scored eight goals during the 1994/95 season. The player’s transfer rights were subsequently purchased by Argentinian media mogul Eduardo Eurnekian and he was returned to Argentina to join Diego Maradona at Boca Juniors. Just over a year into his spell with Boca, another turn of events had a significant impact on Caniggia’s life. In September 1996, his mother committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of her building and Caniggia decided to sit out the 1996/97 season. His return to Boca’s first team squad after that break was slightly underwhelming and he even missed out on Argentina’s 1998 World Cup squad.

Following his troubles in the homeland, Caniggia returned to Atalanta, this time in Serie B. He played 17 games and scored one goal, but a dispute with his manager led to a premature exit from Italy. Intriguingly, his next destination was Scotland and he joined Premiership side Dundee FC in 2000. After seven goals in 21 appearances, Rangers were alerted enough to make a move for the troubled forward and signed him for fee of €1.1 million in 2001. At Rangers, Caniggia became a fans’ favourite and ended up contributing 12 league goals in 50 appearances across two seasons.

Aged 36, Claudio Caniggia then looked for another challenge and moved to Qatari club Qatar SC in 2003. There, he scored five goals in 15 league appearances and called it a day after the conclusion of the season. There was yet to be another small chapter in Caniggia’s football career when he joined Wembley FC to take part in a televised series that would follow the club’s FA Cup journey. The Argentinian managed to score another goal at the age of 45, when he scored in the club’s victory against Langford.

The career and life of Claudio Caniggia has certainly been eventful, but the talents and footballing contributions are hard to be ignored. Therefore, let us remember the great dribblings and his memorable goals.