Crazy Martin or Saint Martin?!

On 6th of July 2011, the clash between Argentina and Colombia took place at the Copa America, a competition hosted by the country with the capital at Buenos Aires. After the first match in the group stage, Argentina had only one point and they drew this time, 0-0. But the fact is not the most important of the text I’m writing, because this is the first game between these two national teams in the group stage of the competition, since 1999, when Colombia won 3-0.

And what a match that was! Even tough Argentina has 14 titles of Copa America, since 1916, when the tournament started, they where humiliated 12 years ago by a team that won this competition for the first and last time in 2001! But the crushing 3-0 defeat wasn’t the main event in that game. Martin Palermo took care of this, as he settled a new world record. The Argentinean striker ‘managed’ to miss from the spot in that encounter. Not one, but three penalties! How this can possibly happen?! Martin gave away one kick in the 5th minute, when he hit the cross bar. It was 0-0. Colombia opened the score also from a penalty and in the start of the second half they also missed one! But so did Palermo in the 75th minute when he shot over the post! The score was only 1-0, but the Colombians managed to speculate the weak moment of their opponents and gave them two blows. 3-0 and the 90th minute. Argentina receives another penalty and Palermo couldn’t help to execute it. He did, but the goalkeeper made this time a save and Martin entered in the Guiness Book!

Despite being a world record, for Palermo this is not a very strange thing. How could it be, when he repeated this ‘performance’ after another decade?! The best top-scorer in Boca Juniors’s history also missed three penalties in 2009, in the same match! Fortunately, in this case it was only a training game between Boca Juniors and Godoy Cruz. Still, Palermo is not only a blunder as he managed to play for Argentina 15 games, in which he scored nine times, including one goal at the 2010 World Cup, against Greece. Nothing unusual until here, but we shall say that with that goal, Martin became the oldest footballer to score for the Argentinean national team, at the age of 36 years and seven months. The previous record was held by Maradona who scored, at 33 years, his last international goal. And he did it exactly the same: against Greece, at a World Cup. This time, it happened in 1994!

Maradona was the man who trained the national team in 2010, at the World Cup. So why did he called up Palermo for that tournament? The answer is as simple as it could be, knowing that the massive striker scored a crucial goal in the preliminaries. The last one in the 2-1 victory over Peru, which came late in the game, in the 90+3rd minute. That was the moment when ‘El Pibe d’Oro’ exclaimed: ‘This is another miracle from Saint Martin!’

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