Ortega told his career is over at River
River Plate veteran Ariel Ortega has been told by coach Juan Jose Lopez that he will not play for the club when the Clausura season opens next month - seemingly ending his career with the famous Buenos Aires side.
Ortega has been River's leading player for much of the last two decades but missed the club's first day of practice on Wednesday for the upcoming Clausura season. When he arrived at practice Thursday he said Lopez told him he was not needed.
"He (Lopez) told me I'm not in their plans," he told reporters before leaving practice. The 36-year-old Ortega said he expected to talk with club President Daniel Passarella about his contract, which expires at the end of the Clausura season.
River Plate has struggled in recent seasons, but the club played better at the end of the recent Apertura season under Lopez. The coach took over in November after Angel Cappa was fired and has worked to instill more discipline in the club.
An attacking midfielder and great dribbler, Ortega joined River in 1991 and stayed until 1996. He spent the next four seasons with European clubs Valencia, Sampdoria and Parma before returning to River in 2000. He left again in 2002 for Turkey club Fenerbahce, but came back to Argentina in 2004 with Newell's Old Boys.
He moved back to River Plate in 2006 and stayed there, expect for a year on loan with Argentine club Rivadavia de Mendoza.
Orgeta also played in three World Cups with Argentina - 1994, 1998 and 2002.
In the last several years, Ortega has often been late to practice and has talked openly about his battle with alcohol addiction. Reports said he missed Wednesday practice with "stomach problems."
"I got the doctor's report and I'll make a decision," Lopez told reporters on Wednesday. "Beyond what happens with Ariel, we all have rights and responsibilities that have to be respected."