By Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
The first Argentinean-born player to play against Rovers in the Football League was Francisco Enrique Gonsalez. Born in Vernado Tuerto, Argentina on 27th July 1905, Gonsalez changed his name on his arrival in Britain and played under the pseudonym Frank Peed.
He was in the Norwich City side that Rovers defeated 3-1 at Carrow Road in December 1930, Fred Forbes scoring twice and Ronnie Dix once. He then appeared in the Newport County team that drew 2-2 with Rovers at Eastville in November 1932.
In scoring one of County's goals that day, he became the first South American to score a goal against Rovers in the Football League. He died in 1967.
In recent years, one of Rovers' more glorious days was the FA Cup victory away to Premier League side Derby County. The 3-1 win came courtesy of a Nathan Ellington hat-trick.
In the opposition that day were two Argentinian defenders. Horacio Angel Carbonari, born in Rosario on 2nd May 1971, had signed for Derby in 1998 from Rosario Central, whilst Luciano Zavagno was also born in Rosario on 6th August 1977 and had joined Derby in October 2001 from the French club Troyes.
Arguably the most famous Argentinian to face Rovers was Alejandro Sabella. Born in Buenos Aires in November 1954, Sabella won four full caps for his country and played for River Plate, Estudiantes and Ferro Carril Oeste, as well as appearing in both Sheffield United’s fixtures against Rovers in the 1978-79 campaign. He is the manager of the Argentinian squad for the 2014 World Cup Finals.
Mauricio Taricco, born in March 1973 in Buenos Aires and formerly with Argentinos Juniors, was in the Ipswich Town side that played Rovers in the FA Cup in January 1998 and was on the coaching staff of Brighton when they played Rovers in April 2010.
Nestor Lorenzo, who played for Swindon Town against Rovers in March 1991, had played for Argentina in the 1990 World Cup Final. Born in Argentina in February 1966, he won fifteen full caps for Argentina, scoring once.
Sergio Torres, born in Argentina in November 1983, played for Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Crawley Town against Rovers in League football.
Adrian Claudio Caceres, born in Buenos Aires in January 1982, did so for Hull City, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town. Luciano Becchio, an Argentine national born in Cordoba in December 1983, played in three League games for Leeds United against Rovers, scoring at The Memorial Stadium in March 2009.
Nicholas Mazzina, born in Buenos Aires in January 1979, played for York City against Rovers in October 2002.
Julian Speroni, born in Argentina in May 1979, was in goal for Crystal Palace in a League Cup-tie against Rovers in August 2007.
Lucas Cominelli, Buenos Aires-born on Christmas Day 1976, played for Oxford United against Rovers in January 2005, whilst Agustin Battipiedi, born in Argentina in 1990, was in Brighton’s side against The Gas in November 2010.
Federico Bassne, born in Córdoba, played for Charlton Athletic against Rovers in April 2011, Paulo Gazzangia for Gillingham on Good Friday 2012 and Cristian Battochio for Watford in the League Cup in August 2013.
Walter Otta, a striker who played in Walsall’s Freight Rover Trophy game with Rovers in December 1998, was born in Rio Tercero in Argentina in December 1973. He played for Villa Dalmine both before and after Walsall and also played for Argentinian sides Sportivo Barracas and Fenix.
Neil McBain (1895-1974), who played for New Brighton in the League aged fifty, was a wing-half for Watford against Rovers between the wars and was, from 1949 to 1951, manager at Estudiantes de la Plata.
The only member of the England side that lost the classic World Cup match against Argentina at St Etienne in June 1998 who has also played against Rovers in the Football League is Darren Anderton.
This match saw England draw 2-2, with Michael Owen scoring a 'wonder goal' and David Beckham being sent off, before losing in a penalty shoot-out.
Anderton played as a substitute in the Portsmouth side that defeated Rovers 3-1 at the end of the 1990/91 season and started both matches against Rovers the following campaign; he more recently played for Bournemouth against Rovers, scoring in the 2-1 defeat at Dean Court in April 2008.