UltimateXI Profile: Mario Kempes

By April 30, 2020
Mario Kempes Mario Kempes

Mario Alberto Kempes Chiodi, just known as Mario Kempes, was a good goalscorer before he cemented his name in history by leading Argentina to their first World Cup title in 1978. Kempes would score two goals in that World Cup final against the Netherlands and lead all scorers. He would become just one of three men in history to not just lift the World Cup, but also to win the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards at the same time. The other two are also considered all-time greats, in Brazil’s Garincha and Italy’s Paolo Rossi. Kempes would also lead the LaLiga goalscoring charts on two occasions during his playing days with Valencia where he scored 95 goals in just 142 games. That kind of performance earned him the nickname El Matador. Kempes was difficult to mark because he chose to operate like the modern-day false nine, arriving from outside the box with surging runs and rangy drives.

"He's strong, he's got skill, he creates spaces and he shoots hard. He's a player who can make a difference, and he can play in a centre-forward position," said César Luis Menotti, Kempes’ 1978 coach. And his description of Kempes was spot on.     

Playing Career

Full name: Mario Alberto Kempes Chiodi

Date of birth: 15 July 1954 (age 65)

Place of birth: Bell Ville, Argentina

Height: 1.84m (6ft 0 in)

Playing position: striker

Club Career

           Years           Team                    Apps   (Gls)

  • 1970–1973 Instituto                        13     (11)
  • 1973–1976 Rosario Central            107     (85)
  • 1976–1981 Valencia                      142     (95)
  • 1981–1982 River Plate                    29      (15)
  • 1982–1984 Valencia                       42      (21)
  • 1984–1986 Hércules                       38      (10)
  • 1986–1987 First Vienna                  20        (7)
  • 1987–1990 Pölten                          96       (34)
  • 1990–1992 Kremser SC                  39        (7)
  • 1992–1993 Fernández Vial              11        (5)
  • 1993–1994 Pelita Jaya                    18       (12)

Total                                                    555    (300)

Club Honours

  • Valencia - Copa del Rey: 1978–79; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1979–80; UEFA Super Cup: 1980
  • River Plate - Primera División: 1981 Nacional
  • Pelita Jaya - Galatama: 1993–94

International Career

  • 1973-1982 Argentina 43 (20)

International Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 1978

Individual Honours

  • Argentine Primera División top scorers: 1974 Nacional, 1976 Metropolitan
  • Pichichi Trophy: 1977, 1978
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Boot: 1978
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1978
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1978
  • Ballon d'Or: 1978 - Le nouveau palmarès (the new winners)
  • Onze d'Or: 1978
  • Olimpia de Plata: 1978
  • South American Footballer of the Year: 1978
  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup top scorers: 1979–80
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • South American Player of the Century: Ranking Nº 23: 2006
  • Golden Foot: 2007, as football legend
  • AFA Team of All Time (published 2015)
Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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