“Trinche” Carlovich, a myth of Argentinian football who left “to build little bridges to God”

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Tomas Felipe Carlovich has often spoken of death in recent years. In an interview with the newspaper the Nacion, in 2014, he said this: “If someone, a higher being, what do I know, God, says to me:” Trinche, you can play 45 minutes, in a full stadium, and then you leave, up or down “, j ‘accept and I play.’ That same year, we met him in his city of always, Rosario, and in his usual style: long gray hair and tousled, pink shirt ajar, sad, nostalgic look. The man everyone calls the “Trinche” had lost Nancy, his beloved, a few months earlier, and two of his seven brothers and sisters. At “Bottom of the hole”, he avoided being at home, wandered the city by bicycle and asked, embarrassed, for a few pesos for the interview. “I’m alone, may the devil take me”he sighed, his eyes wet.

However, there was one last event to live in Carlovich, and it took place last February. While traveling to Rosario with his team from Gimnasia La Plata, Diego Maradona had asked to receive the Trinche in his hotel. The story between the planetary idol and the modest hero of Rosario dates back to 1993, when El Diez returned from Europe to wear the red and black jersey of Newell’s Old Boys, one of the two main clubs in the third city of Argentina. Welcome to “Best player in the world wanted by a local journalist, Maradona replied: “I was told that there was a better player here than me, a certain Carlovich.” Twenty-seven years later, two months ago, Maradona finally met Carlovich. The latter returned with a signed jersey “For the Trinche, who was better than me”. “I slipped into Diego’s ear that with that it was good, my life was complete. Having known the best player on the planet, I can go away with peace of mind “he slipped out. This Friday, at 74, the Trinche left “Put little bridges to God”, as his friends repeat. He did not withstand brain surgery, the result of a violent blow to the head two days earlier, by a young man who wanted to steal his bike.

“An icon of Rosario is dead”

Since then, the entire national press has praised the man whom Argentina’s football elite has ranked among the most gifted players in the country, and who has only three games in the first division. The exploits of Tomas Felipe Carlovich, son of Yugoslav immigrants who landed in Rosario in the 1930s, are nowhere to be seen on the Internet. “An icon of Rosario is dead, and we can never replace it, testifies Eduardo Quinto Pagés, his friend and former teammate of Central Cordoba. Today’s stars are on TV and on social media, he only exists in the minds of elders. ” Therein lies the myth of a player who marked a brilliant generation of coaches (Menotti, Valdano, Bielsa, Pekerman), and who has always claimed “Prefer to play football than to become professional”. Carlovich, declared “illustrious character” of Rosario in 2002, is the other side of a bygone era, of a golden age of Argentine football, during which the Albiceleste offered the country its only two world coronations ( 1978, 1986).

This train for success and history books, the Trinche could have taken on several occasions, but too attached to his neighborhood, his family, his friends and his independence, he jumped several times along the way. He loved and dominated the ball like no other, but the high standards and rigor were not made for him. “In football, he had the same talent as the greatest players. Then there is everything else. He fell into a period where all of a sudden we put everything on the physical “, judge César Luis Menotti, Argentina coach for the first world title, who claims to have summoned him to the national team in 1976, never having received an answer. Carlovich’s few attempts outside Rosario, Mendoza or Santa Fe, came to an end. The “bohemian” was only happy at home, in Central Cordoba, where he was forgiven for his absences from training and his low taste for effort, quite simply because the stadium only filled up for him and his little bridges .

The masterpiece of April 17, 1974

His most beautiful work, he made it on April 17, 1974. That evening, the Argentinian selection, in full preparation for the German World Cup, faced a combined of the best players of the two Rosario teams, to which the local coaches added Carlovich, to show it to the rest of the country and open doors for it. For 45 minutes, the Trinche dazzled the crowd and humiliated its prestigious opponents, led 3-0 at halftime. Both impressed and embarrassed, Vladislao Cap, the Argentinian coach, asks who is this number 5, and requests his counterparts to get him out to stop the massacre. Carlovich does so and, rather than watching the end of the game and listening to the acclaim, goes home to find his friends. The legend was born.

Léo RUIZ

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