Few FIFA World Cup™ debuts have been quite as spectacular as that of Gaston Sauro. Leading up to the crunch last-16 encounter against Costa Rica, the Argentina defender had been a mere spectator at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007. But when the suspension of Alexis Machuca opened the doors to a starting place, the youngster took his opportunity with both hands.
Sauro was on the end of two carefully measured corners from
Santiago Fernandez to head his side into the quarter-finals of the
competition, and with Sunday's crucial clash against Nigeria
just around the corner, the surprise matchwinner spoke to
FIFA.com about his experiences in Korea so far.
Naturally, the tall defender was in buoyant mood after notching an unexpected brace on his first outing in the tournament. "I'm very happy I can tell you. I'm a defender and we don't score that many goals, so this is a dream come true really. I hadn't played for a month either, and that makes me even happier."
Sauro's individual achievement was made all the sweeter by the fact it secured his side's place in the next round, and as he explains, it is the team that comes first. "Getting through was the main thing, and I'm just delighted I was able to contribute. I wouldn't change that for anything," he says, still visibly excited about it all.
Full of surprises
Unlikely as it was that a previously sidelined defender should take the Albiceleste through to the next round, Sauro's improbable feat becomes all the more remarkable when he explains how he ended up on the end of Fernandez's pinpoint centres. "It was a bit strange because normally I go to the near post for corners. But this time, I don't know why, I decided to stay at the far post. And in the second goal, I went for the far corner and it came off."
Clearly his own man, the Argentinian hero certainly seems to have an unorthodox take on the game. Although a Boca Juniors youth product, his footballing role models are to be found across the Atlantic. "To be honest, there's no one in the Boca squad who really excites me as a player," he declares somewhat surprisingly. "The person I really admire is Alessandro Nesta, and I try to learn all I can from him."
But Sauro's endearing idiosyncrasies do not end there. Despite the fact his hero plays for Milan, the young Argentinian's dream is to run out for arch-rivals Inter one day. "I've dreamed of playing for them ever since I was a little boy. But that's a long way off obviously. Right now I'm thinking about the quarter-finals and winning this tournament."
Where he does not break with convention, however, is in his assessment of Sunday's rivals Nigeria. "It's sure to be a very tough match, and they'll be trying to make their physical strength count. It's very important for us to win because our objective before we came here was to play the maximum number of games. And f we beat them, we'll do that."
So what does the immediate future hold for Gaston Sauro? Another starting place or a return to the anonymity of the bench? Not even he knows the answers to those questions. "I'm relaxed. We'll just have to wait and see what the coach decides," he says phlegmatically. "I'm just part of the team and if I'm not playing, I'll be cheering the boys on."