WHERE were you June 24, 2020, when the ‘Mexican Messi’ Luka Romero made his debut for Mallorca against Real Madrid?
That could be the question many football fans will ask in years to come, as the 5ft 5in midfielder cements his reputation as one of the game’s brightest talents.
Romero, 15, made La Liga history and become the youngest ever player to appear in the Spanish top flight when he ran onto the pitch as a second half substitute against Los Blancos.
It broke an 80-year record, but his appearance could easily have been for Barcelona – had he taken up their offer of joining their La Masia academy when he was just seven.
Here’s his story.
BORN TO DO IT
Football was always in Luka’s blood. His father Diego played in the lower leagues in Argentina, before moving to Mexico.
In 2004, Luka was born in Durango City, some 558 miles away from Mexico City, and by the age of three his family had emigrated to Spain – first to Villanueva de Córdoba, Andalusia, and then to Formentera in the Balearic Islands.
That means Romero, whose parents are Argentinian, has a Spanish passport and can play for Mexico, Spain and Argentina.
Although, it looks likely he will choose the latter having already represented La Albiceleste six times at Under-15 level.
FROM IBIZA TO BEYOND
Aged seven, Romero played for local Ibiza team Penya Esportiva Sant Jordi.
His performances attracted the interest of Barcelona, who were desperate to bring him to the Camp Nou.
He starred in a successful trial for the Catalans, but they were unable to convince his family his future belonged there.
The biggest sticking point being they weren’t willing to relocate from Ibiza to Barcelona.
Four years later, Romero signed an eight-year youth deal with Mallorca.
A GOALSCORING MACHINE AT YOUTH LEVEL
With his diminutive size and playing style, Romero was immediately compared to Messi.
And it helped that he just couldn’t help but outscore the opposition single-handedly.
According to local media reports, Romero scored an outstanding 230 goals in just 108 matches for Mallorca’s youth team.
Mallorca’s assistant coach, Dani Pendin, revealed that they were well aware of his talents and itching to give him his debut, but were reluctant because of his size believing he isn’t yet built for the rigours of the men’s game.
‘THE NEW MESSI’
Not our words, but a phrase coined by Leo’s former Barcelona team-mate Dani Alves.
The Brazilian right back was having a kick-about with a then 12-year-old Romero on a beach in Ibiza, when he was swarmed by fans wanting a photo.
Amusingly, Alves immediately pointed them in Romero’s direction declaring: “Take pictures of him, not me – he’s the new Messi”.
However, coaches at Mallorca see Romero’s game a little differently.
They believe he plays more like Manchester City midfielder David Silva.
Aged just 15 years and 219 days old, Romero strutted on the pitch against Real Madrid and made his long-awaited debut in a 2-0 defeat.
He had been an unused substitute in the three previous matches since the season restarted after a three-month pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But this was finally his big chance – and he didn’t waste any time showing some neat touches and spinning into space to avoid the attentions of veteran Toni Kroos.
There was another moment when he showed he wasn’t the soft touch many thought he would be because of his age when he bundled over Isco. Romero had arrived.
In appearing for Mallorca, he broke a 80-year record previously set by Sanson, who was 15 years and 255 days old when he made his debut for Celta Vigo in 1939.
By: Jon Boon
Title: ‘Mexican Messi’ Luka Romero, 15, is the Mallorca wonderkid wanted by Barcelona age seven, and could play for Argentina
Sourced From: www.thesun.co.uk/sport/11953835/luka-romero-mallorca-barcelona-lionel-messi/
Published Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2020 17:29:33 +0000