Agustin Creevy interview: Argentina and London Irish star targets Lionel Messi meet in bad omen for England
If Agustin Creevy meets Lionel Messi before the World Cup, England had better worry.
Creevy cannot shake the feeling Argentina are building towards another massive World Cup scalp, and England are right in the Pumas’ sights.
Back in 2015, Creevy’s first meeting with the “magnetic” Diego Maradona helped inspire the Pumas’ stunning 43-20 World Cup quarter-final win over Ireland.
As Creevy turns 38 today, most of his career goals are already ticked off, but the evergreen hooker has targeted a fourth World Cup, a play-off tilt with London Irish – and a meeting with Messi.
Argentina will face England in the World Cup opener on September 9 in Marseille, where Creevy sees the winner taking charge of Pool D. Bad omens for an England side still reeling from Saturday’s record home hammering by France are balanced by better news for the Exiles.
The 97-cap front-rower knows the autumn’s World Cup will be his Pumas swansong, but he sees no reason to take his foot off the gas in west London.
“Meeting Maradona was the best experience I’ve had in my life with any sportsman,” Creevy told Standard Sport. “We were celebrating, and the team manager said, ‘Hey Gus, Diego Maradona is waiting for you in the changing room’.
“When I saw him, he gave me a big hug as if we were old friends. He was magnetic, you know. A really, really friendly guy. Of course, he had problems in his life, but he was amazing with us. He was really happy, he was singing.
“He said ‘now you represent the whole of Argentina, the country looks to you to win’ because at the time there were economic and political problems in the country and the football team weren’t doing so well. He said some beautiful words.
“I’ve never met Lionel Messi, but I’d love to meet him soon. He’s one of the best players ever, but even before that, I respect him as a person. He’s a good man, very family-orientated. And he looks like a really normal person who just happens to be the best player in the world.”
Argentina’s then-boss Daniel Hourcade was in floods of tears at the Pumas’ 2015 quarter-final win over Ireland.
Michael Cheika’s men toppled England 30-29 at Twickenham in November, and are already simmering towards that September World Cup clash with Steve Borthwick’s side at Stade Velodrome.
“I want to end my international career at the World Cup,” said Creevy. “I have one more year at London Irish after that though, and I love this club. The World Cup will hopefully be my last dance with the Pumas, but it’s fantastic that I’ll still be playing afterwards at Irish.
“I have one more year in London Irish and I’m not saying I’ll retire then, my body’s good. Maybe in nine months I’ll think differently, but now I feel really good. If my wife hears this she will kill me!
“She has supported me for 18 years and is amazing, and she’s going to say it’s her turn to focus on her career. Hopefully it will be easier without international rugby.
“Imagine how many teams I’ve played in for the Pumas, and I think this team is right up there. In 2015 we had a very good team also, and now we have a similar combination of experience and youth.
“The younger players are not just ready to play now, they are also ready to lead the team. The confidence and commitment in 2015 was amazing, and I see the same passion and commitment now as we had then.
“It will be so special to play against England at the World Cup, we have so many Argentinians playing in England that it means a great deal to us.
“Our pool is good, I like it and I think we can qualify, but we’ll need to think step by step. That first game is going to change everything, in my opinion. The team that wins that game is going to take advantage in the pool.”
Creevy impressed for Biarritz, Clermont and Montpellier before spending two years with Worcester ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
Four years with Super Rugby’s Jaguares have given way to an Indian summer stint at Irish, and one that Creevy rates among the best in his career.
The powerful front-rower became Irish’s top try-scoring forward with his 22nd effort in Sunday’s 36-18 statement Premiership win over high-flying Sale, to move past Steffon Armitage and David Paice.
Irish are up to fifth place and will host Northampton in a crucial play-off battle in Brentford on Saturday, March 25. The club’s annual St Patrick’s party fixture has turned into a massive top-four fight, with Irish having won five of their last six league matches.
“Irish is one of the best clubs in my life,” said Creevy. “To be honest, it’s a really, really great place to be. It’s like a big family, and that’s why I stay. It’s really good, friendly people. Everyone helps each other, we compete but outside of training we are proper friends.
“It’s not in the way we win or don’t win, it’s not about the games really – it's about how we feel, and how I feel day by day. I love it and I’m happy.”
To buy tickets for London Irish’s St Patrick’s Party Gallagher Premiership clash with Northampton on Saturday, March 25, visit: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/londonirish