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Marching to the final: Heroic Romero spearheads Argentina’s win

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SAO PAULO: Having spent most of the last 12 months out of favour at club level, Sergio Romero has emerged from the shadows at the World Cup to star in Argentina’s run to the final.
HunzaNews, July 11th, 2014.

Romero saved twice in early Thursday’s penalty shoot-out as Argentina triumphed 4-2 against the Netherlands to progress to the final after a goalless 120 minutes.

Reduced to the role of spectator for much of a disappointing match, the 27-year-old stepped forward to deny both Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder from the spot.

Captain Lionel Messi, who remained quiet throughout the evening, allowed Romero to be hailed the hero, even if he admitted luck played its part.

“Penalties are all about luck; that is the reality,” said the giant shot-stopper after the match. “I had confidence and thanks to God it turned out well.”

Romero has been an assured presence behind a solid Argentina defence throughout the competition, and has kept clean sheets in all three knockout matches.

His displays have been the perfect response to those at home who suggested he should never have been called up in the first place by coach Alejandro Sabella, far less chosen to play ahead of both Agustin Orion and Mariano Andujar.

However, Romero’s trajectory at club level over the past year was hardly that of a player who was about to go all the way to the World Cup final.

He left Italian side Sampdoria towards the end of last summer’s transfer window to join big-spending Monaco on a season-long loan.

When he arrived he expected to be the Ligue 1 side’s first-choice keeper, but coach Claudio Ranieri preferred Croatian Danijel Subasic and Romero only made the first of his three league appearances in April.

Otherwise, he had to settle for a handful of run-outs in domestic cup games, but Sabella never lost faith in a player who won Olympic gold with Argentina in Beijing in 2008.

“He helped me throughout what was the most difficult time of my career,” said Romero in a show of gratitude to Sabella.

“It was the first year that I had spent sitting on the bench. So I had to thank Alejandro for everything he did for me over the year.”

Van Gaal acknowledges Romero’s brilliance

The defeated Dutch coach Louis van Gaal admitted that he was not surprised to see Romero produce such heroics.

Indeed, Van Gaal knows all about Romero’s ability, having coached him during a successful spell in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar.

“I didn’t teach Romero to stop penalties, but we were the club that brought him to Europe because he was a big talent,” said Van Gaal.

With his loan at Monaco having come to an end, his club future may be uncertain, but Romero was determined to savour the moment on Wednesday before turning his full focus to Sunday’s final against Germany at the Maracana Stadium.

“The moment should be enjoyed. I am immensely happy,” he said.

Express Tribune

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