Forgotten Heroes: Marcelo Gallardo

Forgotten Heroes: Marcelo Gallardo

Born in the municipality of Merlo, in the province of Buenos Aires, Gallardo was destined to become a footballer from the moment he set foot in the "Paris of South America". With one of the highest concentration of football teams in a single city across the world (24 teams), options lay plenty for jovenes in the city. 

At the tender age of 12, Gallardo's journey began as he made his debut for River Plate's Prenovena, their academy. Just five years later, in 1993, his dream became a reality as he made his official debut for River Plate in a 2-0 victory over Newell's Old Boys. The ultimate moment came just over a year later as he scored his first goal in the Argentine Primera División against archrivals Boca Juniors through a penalty, which his side went on to win 3-0, the climax of all climaxes for a River or Boca player to score in 'El Supérclasico'. The best was yet to come. Following 135 appearances and 40 goals and assists, along with playing a crucial role in 5 national championships in 6 years, the midfielder was destined for a move to Europe,.

In 1999, AS Monaco sealed the services of Gallardo, paying River $9.36 million US Dollars for a five year contract. From the moment he arrived in the French Riviera region he became a superstar. In his debut campaign 1999/00 he was pivotal to the sides Ligue 1 title win, while he also picked up the Ligue 1 Player of the Season award. Endearing himself to the fans with this incredible breakout season. Although the side could not replicate the highs of 1999/00, he guided the team to French Super Cup and League Cup victories in his four year stint at the club, before returning to boyhood club River Plate. Here he returned to play an important role in winning the 2004 Clausura, scoring the season defining goal against Atlético Rafaela. Unfortunately, Gallardo fell through the ranks and was not getting the game time he needed during this second stint at River, leaving him no option but to look elsewhere. His previous achievements in France, meant he was hot property being sought after.

Despite interest from Marseille, when PSG came knocking on the door, it was an option he could not decline. During his one year in Paris he won the 2007/08 French League Cup for the second time in his career. His notoriety for winning National Cups continued the following season when he moved to DC United in the MLS and helped them to lifting the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. This was the pinnacle of his career in the United States as he eventually, (you'll never guess), moved back to River Plate for a third time. This was to be his final stint at the club as a player, with Gallardo waving goodbye to 'Los Millionairos' on the 15th of May 2010 for the very last time.

The remainder of his playing days were numbered and he opted to play one final season in Montevideo, Uruguay with Nacional Football Club. After suffering a ruptured patellar tendon on his debut it was a sign for him to hang up the boots once and for all. In his best Argentinian fighting spirit, Marcello made a speedy recovery considering the severity of the injury and played the second half of the season, scoring 3 goals and also assisting 3 times. His final game came against Defensor Sporting in the Centenario Stadium which Nacional won 1-0, crowning them champions of Uruguay with the player winning his 22nd title of his playing career. Outstanding.

Since then, Gallardo has retired a highly decorated player and now is making his way up in the coaching side of football. Following a year managing Nacional in Uruguay his boyhood club River Plate took him back once more and he has been permanent head coach since 2014. Once again, his attraction to trophies like a magnet hasn't stopped since he was a player, picking up 12 trophies in the process, most of all the 2018 Copa Libertadores against Boca Juniors. Crowned the biggest final of all time, the final had to be played in Madrid after numerous attacks on players, busses and staff when it was scheduled to be played in Buenos Aires, but that's a story for another day...

Hope ye enjoyed our first blog entry and hoping for many more to follow!

Luke O'Connor

Founder & Owner of KITLAUNCH

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