As we do nearly every year, it’s time to look back at THAT goal by Martin PALERMO but this time with new quotes from the man himself.
Diego MARADONA’s Argentina were in trouble. Big trouble (much like Jorge SAMPAOLI’s team is at the moment). Missing out on the 2010 World Cup was a very strong possibility. The team was struggling to score goals, struggling to win, MARADONA himself kept calling up waives of new players for every match and the team needed a miracle to make it to South Africa.
After about a year of fans asking and demanding that Gonzalo HIGUAIN be included in the Argentina squad, MARADONA submitted to the demands and included the then Real Madrid striker not only in the match but in the starting eleven. That match also saw the return of Pablo AIMAR, who was doing well with his new club Benfica.
Here was the starting line-up for the match:
ROMERO; GUTIERREZ, SCHIAVI, HEINZE, Emiliano INSUA; Enzo PEREZ, MASCHERANO, DI MARIA; AIMAR; MESSI, HIGUAIN
Martin PALERMO and the substitutes:
ANDUJAR, DEMICHELIS, BOLATTI, Federico INSUA, TEVEZ, AGUERO, PALERMO
Of the eleven that started, five of them are expected to start the same fixture, 8 years on. Sergio ROMERO, Enzo PEREZ, Javier MASCHERANO, Angel DI MARIA and Lionel MESSI.
The first half ended 0-0 which meant Argentina had 45 minutes plus injury time (and they would need those extra few minutes) to score and defeat Peru. The entire second half could have been written by some Hollywood director. Martin PALERMO came on at half time for Enzo PEREZ. Just a couple of minutes into the second 45 saw Gonzalo HIGUAIN score on his Argentina debut as he and another River Plate alumni Pablo AIMAR connected for the goal. Everything that happened after the goal was out of a movie. The rain slowly started to come down onto the pitch and it wouldn’t be a Hollywood script if there wasn’t a twist in the tale.
The 90th minute came and it was popcorn time. A Peru goal, silencing El Monumental (in a similar way that Venezuela’s goal caused the entire fans last month in Buenos Aires to go mute) as they had equalized to make it 1-1 and Argentina had one foot and a half out of South Africa. At this point, the rain was coming down so hard, you would think the players would have to swim back to the locker rooms. But with Martin PALERMO on the pitch, there was going to be some sort of dramatic ending.
PALERMO had suffered a broken nose in the second half but that wasn’t going to take the veteran off. And it’s a good thing he didn’t. Minute 93 and Argentina get a corner kick. Federico INSUA takes it and it gets to Angel DI MARIA on the edge of the area. DI MARIA sends a ball back into fold and the ball lands again to INSUA. Federico swings a shot (although it could have been a pass) into the middle and it falls to a completely unmarked Martin PALERMO who side foots it into the back of the net. The man who was ridiculed for missing 3 penalty kicks in one match for Argentina had done it for his country. Running while taking his shirt off and a bloody, patched up nose, Martin PALERMO celebrated under the immense rain while being jumped by his team mates. Diego MARADONA played his last card and it came up trump as he belly flopped his way onto the pitch, celebrating and crying.
The headlines would only read one name the next morning. PALERMO. A man who had a knack of being at the right place at the right time just scored one of the (if not the) biggest goal of his career (certainly of his Argentina career). Nearly 8 years to the day after that memorable match, Martin PALERMO commented on his goal. Here’s what he had to say:
“It was an important match. It was an incredible night. Out of all the matches I played in my career, never had I played one with so much wind, so much rain and so much emotion. And to be the protagonist in it all makes me feel priviledged. At half time, Diego MARADONA made he train and told me that I was going in. During a play, I got a knock on the nose and the blood wouldn’t stop. The referee told me I couldn’t continue. And then came that play.
“All of us were in the area minus the goalkeeper. With the way I was, I believed that the ball would find its way to me but I couldn’t imagine what was going to happen. It was pure madness. I lived it with so much emotion. It was with great joy to be able to take it in with the Argentina fans.”
On behalf of all Argentina fans around the world, we will forever be greatful for that goal and for you, PALERMO. Thank you!