Sergio Romero: World Cup Player Profile

April 7th, 2010 by Argentina Fan Leave a reply »

To say Argentina labored during World Cup Qualification would be an understatement. Going forward the team lacked ideas while at the back the team lacked a stable presence in the center of defense, and perhaps more importantly, in goal. 

Long time custodian Roberto "El Pato" Abbondonzieri was the incumbent during the early rounds under Alfio Basile, but after a horrible piece of miscommunication between the then Getafe goalkeeper and defender Gabriel Heinze, gifted Paraguay a goal and saw "El Pato" leave injured.

Juan Pablo Carrizo, a hero during his time at River Plate, was the next to be given a shot. After a strong start, Carrizo retained his place under new manager Diego Maradona despite a string of poor form that saw him lose his starting place at Lazio. The decision backfired horribly, and a rusty Carrizo surrendered six goals in the meltdown against Bolivia in La Paz.

Maradona then turned to Estudiantes de La Plata's Mariano Andujar, but Andujar's hold on the number one jersey was short-lived as well. Despite making a successful move to Europe, Andujar looked nervous and unsure against Brazil, fumbled one chance into the path of Luis Fabiano for Brazil to go two goals up.

Enter Sergio "El Chiquito" Romero against Paraguay. Although the throwing of an uncapped goalkeeper into the eye of the storm may have appeared to have been a drastic roll of the dice by Maradona, the truth of the matter is that "El Diego" has had his eyes on Romero for quite a while. 

During the 2008 Olympic Tournament, Romero began as the back-up to Getafe's Oscar Ustari, but the former Independiente star went down with a horrific knee injury against Holland forcing Romero into action. 

Romero, who had been a key figure in Argentina's 2007 World Youth Cup triumph in Canada conceding just twice in seven games, was by no means overwhelmed by the prospect of playing a knockout style tournament. In three complete games against Serbia, Brazil, and Nigeria (in the Final) and the second half against Holland, Romero kept a clean sheet often pulling off acrobatic saves. 

Maradona, at the time light years away from being the manager of the National Team, stated that Romero could indeed be the goalkeeper for Argentina in South Africa. Most just cast the comment aside as a typical hollow remark by Maradona. 

Then, as manager, Maradona made his prediction come true, and it paid off. Romero had been called up previously under Basile and Maradona, but failed to make an appearance until after the loss to Brasil. 

"We lost with Brazil on Saturday and Monday Maradona told me he was going to give the starting position against Paraguay. For me it was a surprise because I had come to sit on the bench in street cloths and be the third goalkeeper," Romero said when asked about his sudden insertion to the Argentine first team.

Romero played the entire match in Asuncion and although the team lost 1-0, the AZ Alkmaar man exuded the type of assertiveness missing under previous keepers.

In the two pivotal qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay, Romero was the most important player for Argentina pulling off a string of miraculous saves, particularly in the second half against Peru in a driving rain storm.

El Chiquito's brilliant display in helping his country achieve qualification assured that he would be one of the names on Maradona's team sheet this coming June. 

Since taking over as Argentina manager, Maradona has prided himself on discovering and utilizing either young, or untested players. While some decisions such the one to use 29-year-old journeyman centerback Seba Dominguez against Brazil have failed miserably, Romero's appointment has been arguably Maradona's best move.

Born in the tropical province of Misiones, Romero and his family moved to Patagonia and the province of Chubut at a young age where he and three older brothers played football, but also basketball. 

Despite standing at over 6'3" (1,91 meters), Sergio is the shortest of his siblings especially Diego, who played basketball in the United States for Florida State. 

His football exploits pulled Sergio from the south to the capital of Buenos Aires in 2003, where he began to play in the youth teams of Racing Club, historically one of the biggest five clubs in Argentina.

Romero played just four times for the Avellaneda-based side in 2007, but his exploits for Argentina in the victorious Youth World Cup campaign in Canada drew the attention of Europe, and AZ Alkmaar manger Luis Van Gaal, who purchased Romero from Racing for  1.5million. 

Romero's success in Holland, historically a very offensive league, was remarkable keeping a scoreless streak of 955 minutes in helping AZ win the Dutch League in 2008-2009 for the first time since 1981. 

A star on the field, Romero has received plenty of attention off of it, having married Argentine model Eliana Guercio, with whom he had a daughter in Febuary. 

When Romero takes the field in June he will look to win his third World Title at the third different age level (U20 Champion in 2007, U23 in 2008) along with Lionel Messi (U20 Champion in 2005, U23 in 2008), Sergio Aguero (U20 Champion in 2005 and 2007, U23 in 2008), and Angel Di Maria (U20 Champion in 2007, U23 in 2008). 

Another winner's medal will not only bring Romero more accolades on and off the field, but a move to a big league, and a spot amongst the greatest of Argentine goalkeepers such as Ubaldo Fillol, Amadeo Carrizo, Nery Pumpido, and Sergio Goycochea.


This story was originally syndicated from Bleacher Report - Front Page.
Read the original Article Here

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