Home Sports Superclásicos that Américo Gallego played as a River player

Superclásicos that Américo Gallego played as a River player

Superclásicos that Américo Gallego played as a River player

A Superclásico always leaves cloth to cut. And just one day after the disputed this Sunday marks the 35th anniversary of the last game as a footballer of one of its historic protagonists. He was a true leader in midfield, with clearance, commanding voice, great game manager, presence and above all a lot of personality. He began in 1974 at Newell’s, where he did all the lower ones, and in 1981 he moved to River (“my life”, according to his own words). There he won the Copa Libertadores, the Intercontinental and the Interamericana, the first international stars of the Millionaire.

When he was still a member of the Parque Independencia club, he embraced glory as an immovable starter for the Argentine team led by César Luis Menotti who became world champion -also for the first time- against his counterpart from the Netherlands, in the vibrant final of the ’78 World Cup disputed in the Monumental, which three years later would become “his home”.

The truth was that on May 8, 1988, after playing 440 games in the First Division in which he scored 35 goals, central midfielder Américo Rubén Gallego hung up his boots wearing the red band in a 3-1 win against Banfield. In between, “Tolo” participated in several Superclásicos for local, international and friendly tournaments. It didn’t go bad. But let’s go to the beginning of everything.

Gallego was born in Morteros, Cordoba. At the age of 2, he went to Rosario with his mother and began to go through a difficult life, without a father and with four siblings. “I did everything in life. I was even an ice maker, something I never liked because it burned my hands. I went by car, from house to house, carrying the bars, ”he recounted bluntly.

It was tested in Boca but, short and short, they came to question his physique. Until the morrudo boy left the odds to play in Newell’s, where he did all the lower ones based on the confidence that Jorge Griffa lavished on him, on whom he acknowledged: “I owe him a lot, he even gave me vitamins.”

His debut as a professional player

Gallego reached the Primera del Rojinegro on December 15, 1974 with a 3-1 victory against Talleres de Córdoba, for the National Championship. Juan Carlos Montes – the same one who later made Diego Armando Maradona debut in Argentinos – was responsible for his baptism as a professional player.

His first goal was scored on May 30, 1975 against Gimnasia de La Plata, and since then he began to have more participation in the first team. With a simple touch and enormous defensive capacity, his great performances earned him the call to the National Team for the Toulon tournament, where he met Daniel Passarella.

He was the first to pass the ball to Maradona in his debut with the light blue and white against Hungary at Boca’s court. With Argentina, Gallego played 66 games, scored three goals and played two World Cups at the hands of Menotti, a milestone in his career and with whom he would distance himself over the years.

Participation in the World Cups

In a special edition of The graphic He stated: “The match I remember the most as a player was the final against the Netherlands. After the game we went to the Sheraton and from there to José C. Paz to look for clothes. In the concentration we had no money and we had to go with (Mario) Kempes and Loco (Daniel) Killer to Rosario. Kempes had a loot of gold for being the scorer and when we stopped to load gasoline I told him: ‘If he doesn’t catch up with us, leave them the loot and we’ll come to take it back with money later’”.

Four years later, in the middle of the World Cup in Spain, Passarella and Maradona sarcastically suggested that when “Tolo” was 40 years old he was going to be the gardener of their villas. “Be careful, it is not going to be something that is the other way around,” the central midfielder retorted mischievously.

Asked why the National Team failed in that 1982 World Cup, he did not hesitate: “We lacked hunger. Some players, myself included, we shouldn’t have played because we weren’t well”.

It should be remembered that Gallego was sent off in the 2-1 defeat against Italy, which would eventually become the World Cup champion in Spain. Maradona would also see the red in the 3-1 defeat against Brazil, which eliminated the National Team from the tournament and meant the first and only expulsion of the 10 in a World Cup.

The arrival to River

A little earlier, in 1981, Gallego went to River, where he became a symbol and won five titles. Controversial and verbose like few others, when he was grown up he stated without hesitation: “Because of my profile, it was more for Boca than for River, but River ended up buying me because Boca had spent all the money with Maradona. I would have liked to play for Boca.”

The man who left his little fingernails long to annoy his adversaries, did not mince words either. “It had been a long time since I had clicked on Passarella so that he would take me to River. The day I arrived, while I entered through one door to sign the contract, Angel Labruna left through the other. People had a hard time banking me because they were used to Jota Jota, Merlo and Alonso, but I think I earned the position well. Although before he was a fighter, I was warm because he didn’t play. Once we had a run-in with Merlo in practice and we got punched. Normal; he also happened to me with Capurro at Newell’s ”, he blanked.

The first Superclásico

In September 1981, under the direction of Alfredo Di Stefano, he successfully played his first duel against Boca de Maradona with a 3-2 win at La Bombonera itself, for the National Championship. He later confessed to ESPN that Maradona and Ricardo Bochini were the most difficult to score, despite the fact that during the game he “threatened” them in an underhanded way. “Diego was arrogant and he answered me: ‘What are you going to hit me, fat man. I throw a pipe at you and dribble, ”he recalled with unsurpassed grace.

In local tournaments he came to lose a Superclásico in the Monumental. It was 1-2 and that afternoon in October 1983, curiously, he shared half the field with “Mostaza” Merlo in that team led by José Varacka.

An Olympic lap at La Bombonera

The truth was that April 6, 1986 remained in memory as “the day of the orange ball classic”… and also because of the Olympic return that the Millionaire gave on the field of his eternal rival before the start of the game.

As soon as the xeneize squad appeared through the tunnel, River also came out, led by “Tolo” Gallego, its captain. The team led by Héctor “Bambino” Veira at the time headed towards the center of the field, but then turned towards the box sector and began the Olympic lap under a barrage of insults.

With a bad face, he scraped and directed traffic from the center circle. That day, River won 2-0 and “Beto” Alonso scored two goals, one with a header and another from a free kick with the invaluable help of Roberto Passucci, who was on the wall and upset Hugo Orlando Gatti.

International glory again

That same year, with River he emerged successfully in Group 1 of the Copa Libertadores that he shared with his archrival, then led by Mario Nicasio Zanabria. In the duels of the series, he drew a 1-1 draw in La Boca and a victory by the minimum in Núñez, which led him to the title that he would obtain in the remembered finals against América de Cali by Julio César Falcioni, Carlos Ischia and Ricardo Gareca.

And on December 14, 1986, he put the icing on the cake in Tokyo by lifting the Intercontinental Cup as River captain, after beating Steaua Bucharest 1-0 with a goal from Uruguayan Antonio Alzamendi.

The string of international successes would continue in the middle of the following year, when already under the leadership of Carlos Timoteo Griguol he would obtain the Inter-American Cup in Núñez, defeating the Alajuelense Sports League 3-0 with goals from Jorge Villazán, the remembered Juan Gilberto “Búfalo Funes and Hector Enrique. The first leg played in Costa Rica had ended goalless.

In April 1988 he lived from the substitute bench his last Boca-River in La Bombonera with shorts. He finished 2-2 against José Omar Pastoriza’s team, which in the end would also be the last Superclásico for the historic Gatti as a starter in the Boquense goal, before being displaced by a young Carlos Fernando Navarro Montoya.

A few days later, Menotti took over as coach at River. “I thought he was going to be more motivated, but he preferred to bring ‘Checho’ Batista. There I got a little down and decided to stop playing ”, he admitted some time later.

The midfield fighter retired at 33, but two years later he returned to River as Passarella’s field assistant, who would immediately be appointed by Julio Grondona to lead the Argentine team towards the World Cup in France.

The “Tolo” coach

Already as a solo coach, he won the Apertura ’94 undefeated and successfully faced off with his mentor Menotti, who had crossed the path and at the command of Boca fell 0-3 at La Bombonera due to goals from Enzo Francescoli, Ariel Ortega and Marcelo Gallardo .

In between, Boca and River had tied the two quarterfinal matches of the Joao Havelange Super Cup, but in the penalty shootout, Xeneize beat Millionaire by a tight 5-4.

Gallego also celebrated the Clausura 2000 on his return as a millionaire DT. In the duels for the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores against Boca de Carlos Bianchi, he won 2-1 in the first leg at home.

Although in the rematch on the court of his greatest rival he was eliminated after falling 3-0 and marked by fire for the last goal in injury time by Martín Palermo, who after a long absence returned to the courts already recovered from a tear of ligaments. The bravado that he had launched in the previous one (“If Bianchi puts him to Palermo, I put him to Enzo”, when Francescoli had already been retired for a long time) did not leave him well off. Soccer has those things.

Later he became the only Argentine to have won titles in four different teams: River, Independiente, Newell’s and Toluca de México.

“Tolo” also acknowledged that Passarella had tempted him to direct the Millionaire in the First B Nacional, but that he refused because “he did not see the team well.” He has not directed since 2020, when he had a discreet step as Panama coach. But who takes away the danced.

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