5 facts about Argentina's Sergio Romero
Sergio Romero, Argentina’s current hero, saved two spot-kicks in the World Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out against the Netherlands on Wednesday to put the South Americans into the final on Monday, July 14 (Singapore time).
He was also named man of the match.
Here are five facts about the chest-thumping 27-year-old goalkeeper.
Sidelined in Monaco
Romero arrived in Brazil with precious little playing time under his belt at French Ligue 1 side Monaco, keeping the bench warm for much of the season with a mere nine appearances. Arriving in the principality on loan in 2013 from Sampdoria, he was deployed mostly in unglamorous cup assignments.
Van Gaal taught Romero to stop spot kicks
In a twist of fate Romero was taught to stop penalties by Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, from the pair’s time as coach and player at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
“I taught Romero to stop penalties, so that hurts,” van Gaal joked after this morning's semi-final when Romero saved efforts from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder.
Shines for his country
Compared to his frustrating club situation ‘Chiquito’, as he is known, has shone for Argentina. He has been first choice since 2009.
Witness this save that he made against Iran in the group stages.
He helped to lift Argentina’s Under 20 side to win the world title in 2007, and claimed Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 with four-time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi, now a close friend.
Sabella sticks by his man
Romero endured an avalanche of goals at the 2010 World Cup when Germany brushed the South Americans aside 4-0.
Coach Alejandro Sabella’s decision to stick by him has proven wise, with Romero’s reliability between the posts saving Argentina’s skin on more than one occasion en route to Sunday’s climax.
He is only the second Argentine goalkeeper to earn 50 caps.
Shy off the pitch
Romero has described himself as "shy and reserved" and while the 2014 World Cup has set new records for traffic on Twitter, he refuses to use the social media site or Facebook.