With the FIFA World Cup about to begin in Russia, we look at connections between Bristol Rovers Football Club and the 32 participating countries.
In some cases these connections are strong and multiple; in others they are tenuous, at best. Argentina are competing in their 17th World Cup Finals and they were winners of the tournament in 1978 and 1986.
The first South American
Three South American born players have played for Rovers down the years: Colombians Cristian Montaño and Ángelo Balanta, plus Brazil born Alefe Santos.
However, the first opponent to be born in that continent was an Argentinian. Francisco Enrique Gonsalez was born in Vernado Tuerto in July 1905 but changed his name on his arrival in Britain to Frank Peed. He was in the Norwich City side which defeated Rovers 3-1 at Carrow Road in December 1930 and scored one of Newport County’s goals when they drew 2-2 at Eastville in November 1932. He died in 1967.
The World Cup Finalist
Oddly enough, when Swindon Town played Rovers in March 1991, they fielded a player who had appeared in the World Cup Final less than 12 months earlier. Nestor Lorenzo, born in Argentina in February 1966, had played in the side defeated 1-0 by West Germany in Rome. The holder of 13 full caps, he started in midfield alongside Diego Maradona, but his country lost the final to an Andreas Brehme penalty five minutes from time.
Born in Argentina
Lorenzo is one of ten opponents born in Argentina, who have faced Rovers in the Football League; three others have done so in cup competitions.
The most recent of these players was Agustín Battipiedi, born in September 1989 and formerly with Comunicaciones, who was in the Brighton side which drew 2-2 at home to Rovers in November 2010. Apart from Lorenzo, the only other opponent to face Rovers and also represent Argentina in international football was Alejandro Sabella, who was born in Buenos Aires in November 1954. In Sheffield United’s side against Rovers in both fixtures during the 1978/79 season, Sabella had four full caps to his name and, from 2011, had a spell as national manager in his home country.