Tough and uncompromising, Ruggeri epitomized Carlos Bilardo's win-at-all-costs coaching philosophy. Simon Bruty/Allsport
Argentina's World Cup success in 1986 is often presented as Diego Maradona's personal triumph, but without the tough and uncompromising figure of Ruggeri in defense Argentina would have been a lesser team.
The South Americans' coach Carlos Bilardo knew what he had in Maradona and based his tactics on blocking out the opposition, leaving his talismanic No. 10 to do the rest. And in Ruggeri, a natural successor as defensive organizer to Daniel Passarella, found just the man to get the job done.
On its way to the 1986 title in Mexico, Argentina conceded just five goals and Ruggeri even got on the scoresheet in its 3-0 win over South Korea.
Incredibly Argentina achieved an even better defensive record in 1990, despite its stunning opening game defeat by Cameroon and losing to West Germany in the final. But Ruggeri and his teammates' cynical attitude, encouraged by Bilardo's win-at-all-costs coaching philosophy, won them few friends.
Ruggeri was back for the 1994 finals, but Argentina's campaign was overshadowed by Maradona's ejection from the tournament after a positive drugs test. In the second round, Romania tore the once-impenetrable Argentine defense apart, and Ruggeri's international career, after 94 caps, was over.