Rosario to Mendoza: Hometowns of Argentina’s Selección
You might have noticed Leo Messi’s face around town this past week: his smile was beaming down on the streets of New York, perched atop taxicabs and plastered on the side of phone booths beside the printed words ‘Don’t Miss Buenos Aires.’ Here in Argentina, the tourism campaign prompted a few jokes and some mild criticism – only because the famous futbolista isn’t from Buenos Aires, he’s from the city of Rosario. The conversation got me thinking: where is everyone else from? It turns out that the players on the national team – known simply as ‘la selección’ – represent quite a geographic spread.
Something’s in the water: Rosario
Messi (‘la Pulga,’ or ‘the Flea’) is not the only rosarino on the national team: a surprising number of Argentina’s players are from the area of Rosario, the largest city in the central province of Santa Fe. The list includes Ángel Di María (‘el Fideo,’ the Noodle), Javier Mascherano (‘el Jefecito,’ the little Boss), Maxi Rodriguez (‘la Fiera,’ the Beast) and both Ezequiels: Lavezzi (‘el Pocho,’ the chubby one) and Garay (‘the wall.’) Obviously, they’re doing something right in this city.
From a tourist perspective, Rosario is easily accessible from Buenos Aires – located just 186 miles northwest of the capital – and popular in summertime for its pretty beaches on the Paraná River.
City kids: players from Buenos Aires and around
Notable players from the capital city include Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero (from the southern suburb of Quilmes), Fernando Gago (‘el Pintita,’ loosely translated as ‘the vain one’), Pablo Zabaleta, and Gonzalo Higuaín, who was born in France but grew up in the barrio of Belgrano.
Waterfalls and wine country: the outlyers
There are a few outlyers on the team – players who hail from destinations of particular interest to foreign visitors. Goalkeeper Sergio ‘Chiquito’ Romero is from the far northeastern province of Misiones, famous for its 17th-century Jesuit missions and, of course, the spectacular Iguazú waterfalls on the border of Brazil. Franco di Santo is from the famous Malbec-producing region of Mendoza. Martin Demichelis is from the province of Córdoba – incidentally, it’s one of the only notable places in Argentina I haven’t visited yet. I hear it was founded by Jesuits in the 16th century and is filled with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture. I think I’ll plan a trip and report back. Vamos Argentina!
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