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De Arrascaeta, Uruguay’s “talisman” named after a lucky horse

Uruguay failed to qualify from the group for the World Cup in Qatar because South Korea had a better goal record. In their last group game against Ghana, La Celeste won 2-0, both goals scored by Flamengo star Giorgain De Arrascaeta, but the South Americans needed an extra goal to qualify.

The 28-year-old midfielder was the first Uruguayan to score a double in a World Cup match since 1950. What’s more, this was his first start at the 2022 World Cup, which makes it even more incomprehensible why he didn’t start from the beginning. Especially as Uruguay are unbeaten when De Arrascaeta plays from the first minute in official matches: 11 wins and 5 draws in 16 games.

Born in Nuevo Berlín, Uruguay, on 1 June 1994, Giorgian is the son of Victoria Benedetti and Daniel De Arrascaeta. He started playing football at an early age, at just four years old he was already part of the Pescadores Unidos club. There he scored his first goals and quickly made a name for himself. At the age of eleven, he managed to crown his team for the first time, scoring a total of 38 goals that season.

De Arrascaeta played his entire professional career for just three teams: Defensor Sporting, in his native country, and Cruzeiro and Flamengo, both in Brazil. With Flamengo, where he still plays today, he won two Copa Libertadores, in 2019 and 2022, among others, losing another final in 2021. In January 2019, when he was bought by Flamengo, he became the most expensive transfer in the club’s history: €18 million.

He has been playing for the Uruguay national team since 2014, but 2022 was his best year, scoring 4 goals in 8 games. Two of those goals, as I said, came at the World Cup, but didn’t help the Uruguay national team stay in the competition.

Giorgian De Arrascaeta’s life is not just about sports. When he’s not dedicating his time to football, his profession, the Flamengo player also dabbles in another sport: horse racing.

This is no mere coincidence. His passion for horses runs in his family: his father, uncle and cousin are jockeys. And, according to tradition, so is Giorgian.

The talented 23-year-old middle horse-rider grew up in Nuevo Berlin, a small village with a population of about 2,500. There, as a child, he developed a passion for football, which is now imprinted on his skin in a tattoo representing his origins.

The creative midfielder has tattooed on his right calf the figure of a jockey riding his horse, called Kemei, with whom he won the Mercosur Special Handicap, a highly traditional racecourse in north-east Montevideo.

The printed silhouette covering his skin also explains why his parents chose to name him Giorgian in the civil register. Apparently, his father decided to do so because of the affection he had for his horse when he was a jockey.

“I have no idea where my name comes from, but my father named me Giorgian because when he raced, his horse was called Giorgian and he never lost,” he once said when asked about it.

Surprisingly or not, his father’s superstition came true. Uruguay does not lose in official matches in which Giorgian starts, but that was not enough for “La Celeste” to avoid elimination from the World Cup group stage.

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