“I’m the only national team player in the world to get injured while playing PlayStation,” revealed Tomas Conechny, a forward in the Argentina team that will shortly contest the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015. Nicknamed Tomy, Conechny was La Albiceleste’s top scorer with five goals at the South American U-17 Championship in Paraguay but missed the decisive match of the competition after contriving to fall out of his hotel window while virtual gaming with team-mate Gianluca Mancuso.
The mishap took place on Conechny’s 17th birthday, and just as they had done throughout their stay, he and Mancuso were glued to their consoles, whiling away the time between matches and training sessions.
The young striker, who had made his customary choice of German club Schalke, explained what happened next: “We were just mucking about. I was leaning right on the window of the room when the glass suddenly broke and I fell out. I had cuts all over my legs and one of my feet was quite cut up too. It was a shame and it stopped me from playing the last game against Ecuador.”
Though the incident could have had a lasting impact on his career, the happy-go-lucky *Tomy *has taken it in his stride, a smile even coming to his face as he recalled the mishap: “It could have been serious but it wasn’t a big deal in the end. I can laugh about it now, but obviously it shook us all up at the time. What’s incredible is that I actually missed a game because I was on PlayStation. Like I said, I must be the only national team player who’s ever got injured like that.”
Despite his accident, the Argentinian youngster has not given up his favourite hobby: “I play quite a lot and I’m honestly pretty good too. I hardly ever lose. I play with Schalke because it makes things more even with my opponents, and I like the team anyway.”
In terms of his career, however, Conechny’s dream is to play in England: “I’ve always wanted to play there. I think they play the game the right way.”
Should he make that dream come true one day, it would help him achieve another personal objective that is linked to his love for football gaming, a pursuit he is just as adept at as he is playing the game for real: “I hope things work out in my career and that I end up being a player on PlayStation. I’d even play myself. I’d choose myself. Why not? It would be so much fun. And I hope it’d be with an English team like Arsenal or Liverpool. That would be amazing.”
*Hailing from the Patagonian city of Comodoro Rivadavia, Conechny began his career with Comisión de Actividades Infantiles, where his performances eventually caught the eye of Argentinian big guns San Lorenzo, leading to a move to Buenos Aires. Quick, skilful and blessed with a nose for goal, the youngster excelled with the national U-15 team at the Copa Mexico Naciones and has kicked on with the U-17s, spearheading their largely successful campaign in Paraguay.
Though he does not model his game on any one player in particular, his benchmarks are fellow front men Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Angel Correa. “I’m quick and I like to have the ball at my feet,” he said, describing his attributes. “I can play right across the front line and in the hole too, though I’m an out-and-out No9 with San Lorenzo and the national team.”
The U-17 world finals have always been a stumbling block for La Albiceleste, the one major international competition they have yet to win. The teenage striker knows that achieving success on the pitch in Chile will be much harder than beating his team-mates* *back in the hotel, and he is also aware of the responsibility that comes with the challenge, one he is happy to accept nevertheless.
“We all know what that responsibility is, but this is a new tournament and it’s different to the others,” he explained. “I don’t see that as pressure and I’m very relaxed about it, but when the moment comes to go out and play, we’ll do all we can to take the trophy back to Argentina. Winning the World Cup would be a dream come true for my team-mates and me.”