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15-year-old Romero hails unforgettable Spanish league debut

June 25, 2020 GMT
Mallorca's head coach Vicente Moreno, left, talks with his players during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Mallorca at Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Mallorca's head coach Vicente Moreno, left, talks with his players during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Mallorca at Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

MADRID (AP) — About to make history as the youngest player in the Spanish league, 15-year-old Luka Romero’s heart was racing.

“Going at 3,000 kph,” said Mallorca coach Vicente Moreno, who touched Romero’s chest.

Dubbed by local media as the “new Messi” and the “Mexican Messi,” Romero was about to make his professional debut and break an 80-year-old league record.

The attacking midfielder — born in Mexico of Argentine parents — is a few weeks younger than Francisco “Sansón” Bao Rodríguez was when he set the age record by debuting with Celta Vigo in the 1939-40 season.

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“I was just trying to keep him calm,” Moreno said. “We can’t forget that he is just a kid. Imagine what was going through the mind of a 15-year-old kid at that time.”

Romero entered the match on Wednesday against Real Madrid in the 83rd minute.

“It was an unforgettable moment,” the long-haired Romero said. “Thanks to the entire coaching staff and to Mallorca for giving me this opportunity. I’ll never forget this day.”

He got his first touch on the ball a few minutes after coming off the bench and didn’t look his age while on the field. Mallorca lost 2-0.

“He did well in the three actions in which he was involved, he was aggressive,” Moreno said. “He is very smart and knows how to execute what we ask from him. He has personality. He was nervous, of course, but he will keep growing. I’m happy for him.”

Romero had already been an option on the bench in Mallorca’s draw against Leganés but wasn’t played.

“He had been doing well in the training sessions,” Moreno said. “He deserved this opportunity.”

Romero’s debut made headlines back in Argentina on Thursday, with the sports daily Olé putting him on its front page along with the headline “Another Flea!” — a reference to Messi’s nickname.

Romero’s father, Diego Romero, told Spanish radio Marca his son “has his feet on the ground” and his family and the club are working to keep him like that.

“What he has achieved was very difficult, but it’s even more difficult to stay at that level,” the elder Romero said.

Luka Romero has already played a few matches for Argentina youth squads and is expected to stick with Messi’s national team instead of Mexico.

“We hope he will maintain a level to keep playing internationally,” Diego Romero said.

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