SAO PAULO, July 10: Five facts about Sergio Romero, Argentina’s goalkeeper who saved two spot-kicks in the World Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out against the Netherlands on Wednesday to put the South Americans into Sunday’s final:
Sidelined in Monaco
Romero arrived in Brazil with precious little playing time under his belt at French Ligue 1 side Monaco, keeping the bench warm for much of the season with a mere nine appearances. The 27-year-old, who arrived in the principality on loan in 2013 from Sampdoria, was deployed mostly in unglamarous cup assignments.
Van Gaal taught Romero to stop spot-kicks
In a twist of fate Romero was taught to stop penalties by Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, from the pair’s time as coach and player at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. “I taught Romero to stop penalties, so that hurts,” van Gaal joked after Wednesday’s semi-final when Romero saved efforts from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder.
Shines for his country
Compared to his frustrating club situation ‘Chiquito’, as he is known, has shone for Argentina. He has been first choice since 2009. He helped lift Argetina’s Under 20 side to win the world title in 2007, and claimed Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 with four-time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi, now a close friend.
Sabella sticks by his man
Romero survived the avalanche of goals at the 2010 World Cup when Germany brushed the South Americans aside 4-0. Coach Alejandro Sabella’s decision to stick by him has proved wise, with Romero’s reliability between the posts saving Argentina’s skin on more than one occasion en route to Sunday’s climax where he was named man of the match. He is only the second Argentine goalkeeper to earn 50 caps.
Shy off the pitch
Romero has described himself as ‘shy and reserved’ and while the 2014 World Cup has set new records for traffic on twitter he refuses to use the soclal media site or Facebook.