“Cachete” always fulfills: the story of Gonzalo Montiel on his birthday – La previa – La Previa

Gonzalo Montiel today celebrates his 26th birthday with a happiness that does not fit in his body: his face was the last thing we saw before knowing that we were world champions. A story of overcoming; an infallible performer of penalties.

He learned it in the neighborhood. He was watching so they wouldn’t steal the ball.

The neighborhood is La Esperanza, in González Catán, La Matanza, the most populous part of the highly populated Buenos Aires suburbs. In April 2021, Gonzalo Montiel simulated with his gaze kicking a penalty towards one stick and did it towards the other, deceiving Leonardo Burián, and after the game his coach Marcelo Gallardo informed us that Cachete already played penalty kicks as a boy. For money, like Gordo Ortigoza. But without his media machinery, because if something exuberant about Montiel is his shyness.

Obviously Hugo Lloris did not see that video with which Montiel made it 3-1 against Colón at the Monumental, for the League Cup. Because on December 18, 2022, he would do exactly the same: aim his gaze to the left of the goalkeeper, just as he had kicked him in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands, to sell him the mailbox and cross the shot. Argentina world champion. We will never forget that moment.

Hernán Montiel with the World Cup.

Gonzalo Ariel Montiel had an estimated delivery date of January 20, 1997, but it can be seen that he was anxious, he knew that an overcoming mission in life awaited him and that is why he went ahead and was born on January 1. A lead for mom Marisa to spend the night of the 31st in the delivery room.

Montiel arrived at River when he was 10 years old, and after traveling in a couple of buses for 2 and a half hours one way and the same back for 2 years, he stood up to the DT of the category and asked to make a place for him in the pension of the club, reserved for the boys of the interior. Personality was not lacking.

In inferiors he was captain in all categories, another detail that marks his leadership. He was crowned champion with the 6th. and the 8th. division. At the end of 2014, in the first months of the Gallardo cycle, DT needed a defender to complete a reduction and he sent for a boy from the pension. Then Cachete appeared, much more chubby than now. “He had two fishing rods down there, he was skinny skinny,” Hernán Buján, Gallardo’s assistant, told me. We put him as a 3 and although he did not stand out in football, for some reason the memory stayed with us, his predisposition caught our attention, even though he lacked physically. And the day he made his debut, already in 2016, he entered at halftime against Vélez to play in a line of three and hit the post with a header and a Ronaldinho-style pass, looking the other way, which we later commented on: this is a barbaric cheek.”

Obviously, “the no look” popularized by Ronaldinho, he already brought it as a boy.

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In inferiors, Montiel occupied all the positions of the defense, he also played 5 and 8. He arrived in the First Division as a central defender, but after two years without much participation, he won the position as right back in the remembered 8-0 Jorge Wilstermann with Scocco’s 5 goals. Montiel was impassable, actively participated in 3 goals and even almost scored a heel. And a few days later, Gallardo congratulated him at a press conference saying that he was his “Firefighter”. Yes, the type that plays you anywhere and solves any problem.

At the end of that 2017, I made a note to Gonzalo in Rivercamp. I found out that he was super shy, that in the privacy of the squad they nicknamed him Cachete and that, for the coaching staff, he was a “German”. They explained it to me like this: a super-professional boy, who lives for football, who trains double shifts on his own and who, when he was still living in the pension, received visits from his parents after the games and sent them away quickly because they I was thinking about his performance. “A rare head for these times. He is like Ponzio or Maidana, but he does it at 20 years old, and that is not common, ”Buján defined it for me.

On July 30, 2019, Gonzalo Montiel kicked the first of the 10 penalties he has taken in big football. It was at the packed Mineirao stadium, second leg of the Copa Libertadores round of 16. River and Cruzeiro had tied both games 0-0. They went to penalties. The first was scored by De la Cruz, and when the figure of Montiel appeared for the second, 99% of River fans will have put their fingers together and shouted: Montiel?! Well, yes, Montiel. And, furthermore, if they had chosen him second, it is because he was one of the best. Cachete opened his foot and the ball went up, close to Fabio’s left post, which flew to the other side. Then Chino Martínez Quarta and Borré converted, Armani blocked two and River went to the next round.

Montiel executing the penalty that gave the world title to the Selection. (Photo: The Nation).

On December 10, 2020, for the first leg of the quarterfinals of the following Copa Libertadores, River faced Nacional from Uruguay on the Independiente court, because the Monumental was under repair. In the first half, the goalkeeper Rochet had blocked a penalty from Rafa Borré. It was the seventh wasted of the last 8 kicked by different River players. They had all made a mistake: Borré, Nacho Fernández, De la Cruz, Matías Suárez… At 22 minutes from ST there was another penalty for River. They were 0-0. Montiel grabbed the ball, opened his foot, but this time executed it down, while Rochet went to the other post. Gallardo later declared: “I decided that Montiel was an alternative, I told him to kick him, he was confident and he did very well. It was good to convert to get out of frustration”. From there he was nominated, without the need for public proclamation, the new executor of penalties.

On February 12, 2021, at the Monumental, River beat Rosario Central 1-0 for the League Cup, they gave him a penalty, Cachete hit him with the instep and put him hard up, to the left of Fatura Broun , which went to the other side.

Two months later, on April 11, the aforementioned penalty kick came against Colón, with River winning 2-1. The first time he used Ronaldinho’s “no look” formula: he looked to the left of Burián, who bought the mailbox, and kicked him across to the right. Then came Gallardo’s laughing comment.

On April 22 he had a difficult figure: the Maracana. Without people, yes, against Fluminense, at the start of a new Copa Libertadores, but Cachete’s fishing rods did not tremble: he opened his foot, put it up, to the left of Marcos, while the goalkeeper flew to the other side. The match ended 1-1.

On May 9, at the Monumental, River had to beat Aldosivi to qualify for the quarterfinals of the League Cup. They were 0-0, there was a penalty for River and Montiel opened his foot and put it up before a goalkeeper, Fabián Assman, who finally guessed the direction, but did not reach it, confirming one of the postulates of the holy scriptures of soccer : Well kicked penalty is a goal.

The following Sunday, with 15 casualties due to a furious outbreak of Covid, River visited the Bombonera to face Boca in a kill kill to define one of the League Cup semifinalists. They tied 1-1, went to penalties and Montiel executed the first. The best player should always kick first, because if he goes 4th or 5th, he may never kick, and it’s a waste. Montiel was first, then, already established without a doubt as River’s best penalty taker. He faced a heavyweight challenge: on the other side was a specialist like Agustín Rossi. He kicked it cross, down, Rossi guessed the intent, but he didn’t quite get it out. Finally, Boca prevailed 4-3.

Those were the 7 penalties that he kicked in River, 5 in matches and 2 in definitions. And he put them all. With Sevilla he kicked only once, on July 25 of this year, in a definition after equalizing with Sporting Lisbon in a friendly. Cachete looked to the goalkeeper’s left and crossed it to the right, up, near the corner. Unassailable.

And well, we finally landed in Qatar. In between, he shut out Neymar in the 2021 Copa América final at the Maracana. But the World Cup did not arrive at a high level. Nahuel Molina was the starter, he did not perform well against Arabia and Montiel replaced him against Mexico. Cachete was nervous, somewhat doubtful and left the team again. He entered against the Netherlands, for the quarterfinals, and in the supplementary session a version was seen that was more like the usual Montiel. When he went to kick the third penalty of the definition, many non-River fans will have thought the same thing as the River fans that night at the Mineirao: Montiel!? Yes, Montiel, even if he was below his usual level. The two Dutchmen had made a mistake and Messi and Paredes had converted. Smack went, opened his foot and brought it to mid-height, while Noppert flew to his right. He left Argentina 4 match points up.

Against France we are not going to count too much. We’ve seen it hundreds of times. It is better to listen to our great rapporteurs. We know that she changed again, with his no look. The one of Cachete running towards the ball with his face of nothing was the last image we saw before exploding with happiness for being world champions again, after 36 years. Eternal postcard.

There is Gonzalo Ariel Montiel: 10 penalties kicked, 10 converted, half for one side, half for the other. Cachete has everything studied. From La Matanza to the world. Barrio La Esperanza, to serve you.


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