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Ex-Leeds and Sheffield United player moved to intensive care in ‘delicate’ condition

Ex-Leeds and Sheffield United player Alex Sabella has been moved to intensive care in a ‘delicate’ condition, reports confirm.

The 66-year-old, who managed the his home nation Argentina until 2014, was rushed ‘urgently’ to hospital from his hometown La Plata to a facility in Buenos Aires last Thursday.

TYCSports have posted that Sabella attended the Cardiovascular Institute of Buenos Aires due to fluid retention in his legs.

They claimed the condition was not believed to be as serious as originally feared as he was making steady progress.

However, the same outlet now indicates he has picked up a virus while in hospital and he is now suffering with heart problems.

Sabella has been moved into an intensive care room and is receiving respiratory support where staff are keeping an eye on him.

The hospital has also provided a statement on his condition, stating he is in ‘reserved prognosis’.

It revealed Sabella has a ‘dilated heart disease secondary to coronary disease and cardiotoxicity, with cardiogenic shock and previous infection, leading to a reserved prognosis’.

There has been a huge outpour of support from within Argentina.

Sabella moved to Sheffield United in 1978 at the age of 24, making a total of 76 appearances for the Blades, scoring eight goals, and becoming a huge fan favourite.

The South American spent two years there before moving across Yorkshire to Leeds, where he spent one season before heading home to Estudiantes.


1974–1978 – River Plate – 117 games (11 goals)
1978–1980 – Sheffield United – 76 games (8 goals)
1980–1981 – Leeds United – 23 games (2 goals)
1982–1987 – Estudiantes (LP) – 149 games (10 goals)
1985 → Grêmio (loan) – 10 games (0 goals)
1987–1988 – Ferro Carril Oeste – 27 games (2 goals)
1988–1989 – Irapuato – 31 games (0 goals)
Total – 433 games (33 goals)

National team
1983–1984 – Argentina – 8 games (0 goals)

Teams managed
2009–2011 – Estudiantes
2011–2014 – Argentina

Sheffield United had tried to sign the late Diego Maradona from Argentinos Juniors when he was a teenager, however, the club decided that Maradona was too expensive. Therefore, United turned to Sabella, who they signed for £160,000 on 19 July 1978. Known as Alex while in England, Sabella made his debut for the Blades in a 2–1 defeat against Leyton Orient on 19 August 1978.

Sabella played for United until 1980, scoring eight league goals in 76 appearances. After relegation to the Third Division (today’s League Two table), manager Harry Haslam agreed a fee of £600,000 with Second Division club Sunderland. However, Sabella had ambitions to play in the First Division and refused to go. His final appearance for United came with a goal in the County Cup (a regional competition between South Yorkshire teams) Final victory over Sheffield Wednesday on 8 May 1980.

During the close season, Sabella was sold to Leeds United for around £400,000. He played for them without much success between 1980 and 1981, making 23 appearances and scoring two goals. John Lukic used to give him a lift to training and matches from Sabella’s digs in Sheffield.

In December 1981, Sabella started looking for an Argentine club and was eventually sold to Estudiantes de La Plata.

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