Football supporters love to see the players at their club shine at international level. Having players you support representing their countries in a match brings added interest to some of the lower profile games in the World Cup.
Serbia against Switzerland may have gained more views than it otherwise would have, with Manchester United supporters keen to see how Nemanja Matic got on, for example.
That is why the news that Sergio Romero was set to miss the tournament in Russia was greeted with disappointment from United fans.
The Argentinian goalkeeper is a fairly popular figure at Old Trafford, which isn’t too common for second choice goalkeepers that hardly play, and they the supporters were looking forward to seeing him in action as Lionel Messi strove to guide them to glory.
Romero was set to break an Argentinian record for the consecutive number of World Cup appearances for a goalkeeper. He was on 12 and the record is set at 13, and held by Ubaldo Fillol, who played for Argentina in the 1970s and 80s, winning it in 1978.
However, not long after the Argentinian FA confirmed Romero’s injury and absence, his wife, Eliana Guercio, revealed he would have been fit in time for the World Cup.
“There’s nothing broken. It’s a piece of loose cartilage,” she said. “The doctors told him he was OK for the World Cup. The recovery is two to three weeks maximum.
But with how my husband is and the effort he puts in he could be ready for the first game. There are many people that want him out. They said it was broken to justify it. I’m tired of the lies. I don’t know if those that speak are inept, uninformed, cowardly or have personal interest, which in all cases would be the worst reasons.”
Not long after, Romero himself confirmed the same, revealing he would have been available more than two weeks before Argentina’s opening World Cup game, and possibly in time for their friendly against Haiti. He claims he spoke with the manager, Jorge Sampaoli, about this, but was told he wouldn’t be selected.
“I spoke with Jorge, I explained the situation and recovery time. I told him that I didn’t have anything broken. I assured him that I would be available in 10 days,” he said. “Sampaoli and the coaching staff’s time frame is different. They wanted someone who could be there every day and I was taken off the list in four hours.”
Willy Caballero, Chelsea’s second choice keeper, Franco Armani, of River Plate, and Nahuel Guzman, from Tigres, were on the plane to Russia and Romero was left at home.
Argentina have struggled in the tournament so far. They drew with Iceland in their opening game before getting thrashed 3-0 by Croatia in the second.
However, with the shoreline at 0-0, Romero’s replacement, Caballero, made an awful mistake. He played the ball straight to Ante Rebic who struck it cleanly on the volley to put Croatia ahead.
They are now left with needing a win against Nigeria in their final group stage game to progress to the next round.
You can only imagine how much Sampaoli is regretting his decision not to take a gamble on Romero now. With three spots for goalkeepers in the squad, it had to be worth the risk to take their best goalkeeper with them, even if he was carrying a slight injury.
Will Caballero redeem himself on Tuesday? Sampaoli will be desperate for him to, in order to justify his strange decision to leave Romero, who helped United win the Europa League the season before, out of his team.