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Messi and Di Maria’s former teammate who made his World Cup debut for Ecuador

Hernan Ismael Galindez was born in Rosario, Argentina. He is in the same age group as Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria (group 87-88). In fact, Hernan has repeatedly recounted that he played against Leo several times as a child, and in fact, it was Messi who scored him his first goal when they were just 5 years old.

Galindez was also teammates with Angel Di Maria at Rosario Central in the children’s and junior groups. However, as is often the case, their paths later parted.

While several of his generation triumphed in Argentina and then went on to Europe, becoming world-famous stars, Hernan failed to make it in the first team. He suffered relegation with Rosario Central, and in 2011, at 24, he was playing for the reserves, overweight and already thinking of retirement after trying his luck with Quilmes.

Unexpectedly, in 2013, an offer came from Universidad Catolica, from Ecuador’s second division, and Hernan accepted it. He had nothing to lose anyway. And, unbeknownst to them, that transfer would kick-start a success story. At Universidad Catolica he made his mark, was promoted to the first team, and became captain and one of the best goalkeepers in Ecuadorian football.

He stayed there for 10 years! Throughout this period, he gradually built his reputation. But right from the start, he was successful: in his first year, he was promoted to the first division. As the seasons went by, he became a reference point for the club and started wearing the captain’s armband. In his time at La U, he played over 400 games. In January 2022, he decided to seek a new challenge and transferred to Chilean football.

However, the story there did not have a happy ending. After just six months at Universidad de Chile, he terminated his contract. Why? The controversy surrounding Byron Castillo’s alleged illegal inclusion in Ecuador’s national team has been the main source of discontent in Chile. And the goalkeeper was a collateral victim: constant threats against him and his family made him decide to end his time in Chilean football and return to Ecuador, and the team that took him in was modest Aucas. And once again, good things returned: the club made a splash and became champions of the Ecuadorian Serie A, its second title after promotion in 2012.

In the midst of this turmoil, in 2020, Hernan Galindez became an Ecuadorian citizen, and Gustavo Alfaro decided to include him in the process, which earned him a starting place in Ecuador’s national team.

His first call-up to the national team was in 2020, with another Argentine, Gustavo Alfaro, on the bench. In fact, Alfaro made him the first choice to be the starting goalkeeper in place of Alexander Dominguez. Thus, Galindez was in goal during the qualifiers, at Copa America 2021, and now, on November 20, at the age of 35, he made his debut at a World Cup, after playing only 12 games for “La Tri”, of which only 11 as a starter.

In total, 137 players have represented a country other than their country of birth at this World Cup, and Galíndez is one of them. Hernan sang with pride and emotion the anthem of his adopted country. His debut was a great one, as the 35-year-old goalkeeper managed to come out on top for the Ecuadorian national team without conceding a goal.

Hernan Galindez had a different path. He had to go back and start over. But he will be able to say that he, like his compatriots Di Maria and Messi, played in a World Cup.

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