Tuesday 26 September 2017, 09:04

Camargo and his magical volley

  • His goal from his own half has been nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award

  • The Argentinian midfielder still gets excited when watching it back

  • He dreams of attending The Best FIFA Football Awards and you can vote for his goal here

Alejandro Camargo was halfway through a training session with Universidad de Concepcion when El Profe Cornejo, the club fitness coach, gave him the news: “Cama, you’ve been nominated for the Puskás Award!”

At first, the Argentinian midfielder did not believe him. “Nah, they’re not going to nominate me!” he shouted back. “Show me the telephone!”

“That’s when I saw it,” Camargo recounted to FIFA.com. On Cornejo’s mobile phone, he saw his own eyes that his wonder strike against O’Higgins had been named as one of the ten candidates for the FIFA Puskás Award 2017.

“I’m not going to say that I burst into tears, but it was a real thrill,” he recalled. “When I scored the goal, I never expected it to be nominated. My wife cried. This is all so new for us: getting so many calls, requests for photos, and the like. When the news came through, I grabbed my phone and I’d already received ten WhatsApp messages. Imagine what it must be like for Messi! He mustn’t be able to touch his phone!”

Alejandro Camargo chuckled as he spoke, still amazed by the stir caused by his goal in Concepcion, a city of some 200,000 inhabitants located 500 kilometres south of the Chilean capital of Santiago. “I’m not an extrovert by nature, so the less hassle I get the better,” he explained. “But I’m making the most of it with my family, because it’s very beautiful what I’m going through.”

At 28 years of age, Camargo has enjoyed a long career as a defensive midfielder, without previously having made the headlines. He started out at various clubs in Mendoza, the province of Argentina where he was born. He won the Primera B title, the Argentinian third division, with Sarmiento de Junin in 2012, before leaving for Chile in 2013. He subsequently moved to Universidad de Concepcion in 2015.

A touch of magic In December 2016, the club was involved in a relegation battle, and the players knew that only a win would suffice from their home fixture against O’Higgins. In the latter stages of the game, and with his team leading by two goals to one, Camargo sealed victory with an extraordinary volley from some 60 metres.

“I can remember it as if it were yesterday,” he pondered, visualising the clearance from opposition goalkeeper Miguel Pinto as it flew towards him.

“The ball came to me with just the right amount of swerve to allow me to hit it first time. I caught it on the volley, and I struck it so well that it didn’t even hurt my foot. You know, it can hurt sometimes if you don’t catch it right. But not this one – I hit it perfectly. When I saw the ball rising, I thought that it was going to hit the crossbar. But then, as it dipped, I knew it was going in.”

It may surprise some to hear that such an improbable attempt on goal was more than just pure improvisation. “The manager had told us that the goalkeeper tended to come out of goal, and that we should try our luck from distance. I don’t usually shoot from range but he came out of his area and I didn’t think twice, I went for goal.”

Over the course of his career, he has scored only four goals from medium or long range. “I’m more one for getting headers from set pieces, but this time there was a touch of the magic wand. I’ve seen the goal 20 times or more, and each time it makes me giggle with nervousness and excitement. I love it.”

From the other finalists, he would pick “Giroud’s and Matic’s”. And of course, he is already dreaming of being in London on 23 October at The Best FIFA Football Awards™. “It would be amazing to be there with Messi, Cristiano, Neymar and the others. My friends are telling me to take them there in my suitcase, and that they’ll lend me their wedding suits.”

Now it’s up to the FIFA.com users to decide if Alejandro Camargo will be one of the three finalists for the FIFA Puskás Award.

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