PRETORIA - Argentine striker Martin
Palermo, playing his first World Cup at the age of 36, has taken
to the stage for a new act in a theatrical career peppered with
improbable goals, bizarre injuries and farce.
Palermo became Argentina's oldest World Cup scorer with the
second goal in the 2-0 win over Greece that guaranteed Diego
Maradona's team top place in Group B and a second round clash
"The Palermo movie never ends, it's unbelievable. I put
Palermo on and he worked miracles," Maradona said after
Tuesday's match in Polokwane.
Maradona held the previous record having scored his 34th and
last international goal at 33 against the same country in the
Palermo, the odd one out among Maradona's half dozen
strikers that include the more talented Lionel Messi, Gonzalo
Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Sergio "Kun" Aguero and Diego Milito, is
more effective than elegant.
Even his fans call him "the log" for his clunky style and on
more than a few occasions, he has scored with his hips, his heel
and even both feet at the same time.
Last season Palermo, Argentine club Boca Juniors' all-time
top scorer with 222 goals, headed a goal from the centre circle.
"It's intuition and knowing where to be that you go
acquiring with experience," Palermo said of his uncanny knack of
being in the right place at the right time.
Palermo's injuries have sometimes been as unconventional as
During a spell at Villarreal in Spain, he fractured his
ankle when a small ledge gave way as he dashed towards the
stands to celebrate a goal.
He once scored for Boca despite having torn a knee ligament
- an injury he only noticed afterwards in the changing rooms.
At the Copa America in Paraguay in 1999, Palermo missed
three penalties in the same game against Colombia. His
international career appeared over then with seven caps, but 10
years later he got a surprise eighth thanks to Maradona.
A month later he scored a critical winner against Peru in a
downpour as Argentina struggled in the qualifiers. An ecstatic
Maradona dived across the rain-soaked pitch on his belly and
then dubbed his miracle worker, Saint Palermo.
"To be at the World Cup at this stage in my career after
seeing so many go by without being able to be there ... is the
greatest satisfaction football has given me," Palermo told
reporters after the squad's return to base from Polokwane.
Argentina fans expected Messi to be among the team's first
scorers in the finals but he has not found the back of the net
yet. Palermo's goal, his ninth in 15 matches for Argentina,
showed he was determined to give "the Palermo movie" a happy
Asked to give a title to what could be the film of his
career, Palermo said: "First we'll have to find someone to write
the script ... because who could express what I've experienced?"
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