Copa America Stars: Delio Onnis (Argentina)

Copa America Stars: Delio Onnis (Argentina)
Copa America Stars: Delio Onnis (Argentina)

In the lead up to this year's highly-anticipated Copa America, we take a look at legends from each of the 16 nations participating and their impact on Ligue 1 to make it the fast-paced and diverse league it is today. We begin with the league's finest scorer, Argentinian Delio Onnis.

Considered by many to be the best player to have ever graced Ligue 1, Delio Onnis is the very definition of a legend for AS Monaco and in the history of French football. The Argentine international still holds the record of top scorer for the Principality side as well as the French Championship. Representing Stade de Reims between 1073 and 1973 as well as ASM between 1973 and 1980, the striker would leave an undeniable mark on the club and the league, so much so that he was voted as the French football's "best-ever player in the Championship" by notable French sport magazine So Foot.

Delio Onnis was born in Italy, but moved to Argentina at a young age - subsequently gaining Argentinian citizenship. He would begin playing football in his new home country, representing local sides Almagro and Gimnasia before being picked up on the radar by European scouts after scoring 53 goals in 95 appearances for the latter.

It would be in 1971 when Onnis moved to France and discovered Ligue 1 for the first time, beginning a decade-long love story with the French Championship. In his first season, he would score 22 goals for Stade de Reims and score 17 in his follow-up outing with Les Rémois.

After three years with Reims, Onnis switched the Champagne region for the shores of the Principality of Monaco, who were then a newly-promoted side in Ligue 1. In seven goal-laden years, the Argentine would score 223 goals with 157 in the league. Despite being relegated in 1976, Onnis would stay with Les Monégasques to help them bounce back to the French elite and then seal a spectacular Ligue 1 title win in the 1977-1978 season and a Coupe de France title the following season. Onnis would join newly-promoted Tours in 1980, retaining his status as the league's top scorer for two seasons before being relegated in 1983.

'36 years, that's almost half my life!'

Onnis holds a record that has yet been beaten by the likes of Thierry Henry, nor Kylian Mbappé for AS Monaco and Ligue 1. "36 is almost half my life, can you imagine? No, to be honest, I haven't given it too much thought, although there are days when I still think about it," said the Argentine in an interview with AS Monaco's website. "No, there's no secret about it! It was more a question of playing, enjoying the pitch and enjoying the work of my team-mates. The secret is, of course, hard work throughout the week. You also need a bit of luck to finish a move. I was pretty skillful, even though I missed a lot of chances!"

Despite holding Argentine nationality and being eligible to play for the national side, Onnis was never called up for international duty due to a policy of favouring players who stayed in the Argentinian domestic leagues. He would have had to also compete with the likes of Diego Maradona and Carlos Bianchi for a spot up front. Despite being born in Italy, he was never called up for the Azzurri, yet he'll remain a massive part of the history of French football for his time at Reims and AS Monaco.


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