No one knows how this story will end. But undoubtedly March 23, 2023 will be marked on the calendar as a turning point in the career of Matthew Retegui. The attacker found himself at a crossroads, he made his choice and, in principle, he seems to have made the right choice: he made his debut with a goal for the Italian national team in the meeting that this Thursday the Blues lost 2-1 to England at the stadium Diego Armando Maradona from Naples for the first qualifying date for the German Eurocup 2024.
The surprise, first, and a great expectation, then, had generated the call of top scorer of the last edition of the Professional Soccer League. I called him because we lack players who score goals. The boy has been playing in Argentina for two years and has the quality that we lack”the technician had justified Robert Mancini on Monday. The injuries of Ciro Immobile and Giacomo Raspadori, and the inactivity at their clubs of Wilfried Gnonto, Gianluca Scamacca and Andrea Belotti led to this chance for the player who on 29 April he will be 24 years old and who has developed his entire career in Argentina, despite several clubs in Italy, Spain, Germany and England who follow him closely, as his father revealed a few days ago, Carlos Retegui.
“It reminds me a bit of the first (Gabriel) Batistuta”assured Mancini in the prelude to his debut. “He has the wickedness of (Gian) Luca (Vialli) and the Argentine blood of (Diego) Maradona”said analyst Luigi Garlando in Thursday’s edition of the Gazzetta dello Sport. With that support and with the number 19 shirt (the one usually worn by captain Leonardo Bonucci, absent due to injury), Retegui took to the field from the start of a duel that ended better than it started for Italy, even if not it was enough to avoid defeat.
In a first half in which the locals were unable to place even a risky play, the striker born in San Fernando paid the piper, since he just made contact with the ball, absorbed by John Stones and Harry Maguire. Faced with that formidable rival, England built their lead. First with a scream from Declan Rice, after one of the many crosses that tormented the blue defence, and then with a penalty from Harry Kane, who thus became the top scorer in the history of the English team (he reached 54 and left Wayne Rooney behind).
Even if the simplest decision would have been to replace it, Mancini renewed the credit for the Argentine after the break and the Tigre player answered him the first time he was in front of goal and in a favorable position: 11 minutes after being put on and after receiving from Lorenzo Pellegrini, he beat Jordan Pickford with a low, cross right hand. Which made the Azzurri fans celebrate and especially those who won a few tickets thanks to this goal: the bookmakers paid between 3.50 and 3.55 euros for each bet if Retegui scored on his debut.
That goal served as a wake-up call for the Blueswhich is still going through a process of reconstruction after failing to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. In the final half hour the game was played almost entirely on the away court and the danger settled in the Pickford area. This was not enough to change the course of the crash and therefore England broke a 45-year streak without beating Italy in competitive matches. His last triumph came on 16 November 1977, when he won 2-0 at Wembley with goals from Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking in a 1978 World Cup qualifier.
Beyond defeat this Neapolitan night will be marked in Retegui’s memory, who became the 22nd Argentine player to represent Italy, including five world champions: Luis Monti, Raimundo Orsi, Enrique Guaita and Atilio Demaría, in 1934; and Mauro Camoranesi, in 2006. The attacker will be able to add more minutes next Sunday, when Mancini’s team will face Malta in Ta’ Qali for the second round of group C which also includes Ukraine and North Macedonia.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.