Saturday 16 December 2017, 21:02

Pachuca's bronze millennium child

  • Pachuca's Roberto de la Rosa is first player born after 2000 to appear at a Club World Cup

  • Mexican striker also became the first to score after less than 60 seconds on the pitch

  • Goal helped seal a 4-1 win over Al Jazira to earn bronze medal at UAE 2017

As the reggaeton spilled from the dressing room, with a teetering stack of celebratory pizzas pushing back through the noise, there was one figure in Tuzo blue whose eyes were a little wider, and smile a little broader, following Pachuca’s medal-winning success in Abu Dhabi.

Having clinched third, the Mexican side’s best showing in four visits, there was a bit of additional history made by the grinning figure in the dressing room as well. Arriving in the 78th minute of the game, Roberto de la Rosa earned a landmark by simply setting foot on the field, becoming the first player born this millennium to appear at a FIFA Club World Cup.

Just 54 seconds after his opening bow, he had another entry in the record books, finishing like a seasoned pro with just his third touch to become the first to score as well. Having stepped out of the noise to talk with, he did his best to extinguish any boyish glee.

“It’s certainly a great achievement for me and my career and it really is something special,” he reflected on his precocious start on the senior global stage.

Finding his feet so expertly was certainly special. Laying the ball off to Erick Sanchez, he had one thought in his mind, racing beyond the Al Jazira backline to spring the offside trap. Meeting the return pass, he was presented with a golden chance to see his name up in lights. He made no mistake, taking one touch to set himself before giving Khaled Al Senaani the eyes and burying the ball superbly.

It is clear that a scoring instinct flows strongly through his ill-cool veins. “That’s what I try to prepare myself for – to react quickly to the game," he said. "The great thing was that I had the chance to be on the field and make an impact.

“I was calm and excited, as I was substituted on. Not every player has the opportunity to play at a tournament like this, so it was a really positive experience.”

Anyone with a keen eye on the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 would have expressed little surprise, though, with de la Rosa having registered two coolly-taken goals for Mexico. It was an experience that he believes helped him grasp this latest opportunity in the spotlight, alongside the support of his senior Tuzos team-mates.

“They are very supportive with the young players and actually they are the ones who are encouraging us and they are helping us to adapt faster to the team,” he explained.

Having been part of the set-up since the age of ten, playing a key role in helping the club earn a bronze medal is particularly special for the No89 as well. “I’m really happy as to have this achievement with a team that has supported me and encouraged me ever since I was young, I feel very proud.”

It also turns out that a medal was on his career bucket list, revealing “it was an objective I had marked right from the beginning of my career”. What’s his next milestone? de la Rosa is keeping his cards close to his chest, next to his medal on the flight home. “Let’s see what the future holds.”