Gero Rulli, the unexpected hero

Gerónimo Rulli (La Plata, Argentina, 29 years old) could expect a feat in the final of the Europa League and he did it, but not the usual one of a goalkeeper when he is bombarded by his rivals. The Villarreal goalkeeper became the hero with hardly having to intervene during the match. You are not reminded of a merit stop during the 120 minutes. Completed a filing performance. United harassed the area defended by Rulli for a long time, but barely fired between the three sticks. However, the last detail of the crash was momentous and unexpected. Possibly, he never considered having to take a penalty and stop the opposing goalkeeper. He did it and his team went down in history.

Rulli was Esnaola in the 1977 Cup final, and De Gea was Iribar, and with the goalkeeper of Andoain, a Betis legend, he shares his time at Real Sociedad. Both kicked the last penalty of their team and saved the rival goalkeeper to give a title to their club. That of Esnaola, who apologized to Iribar after beating him in another decisive round, is still remembered with pride and affection in Heliópolis and a certain bitterness in Bilbao; Rulli’s will be a permanent memory in La Cerámica.

Unai Emery, great-nephew of the Real Unión goalkeeper who conceded the first goal in La Liga history, trusted newcomer Rulli to play in the European competition. The Argentine footballer found himself at Villarreal with a hierarchical order headed by Sergio Asenjo, a reliable value for the regular championship, but he had his escape valve in the Europa League from the first game to the final in Gdansk. He came from a few years that were somewhat convulsive for him, in which the distrust of the fans of the Royal Society and some errors of bulk that began to become chronic were mixed. “I felt a two-year-old boy kicking my goal and scoring a goal. I was without confidence ”, Rulli came to say.

When Imanol had to choose last season, he stayed with newcomer Alex Remiro and Moyá. Rulli, after five seasons, was relegated to a loan at Montpellier, a team in the middle zone of the French league. There he was reborn. L’Équipe He was considered the third best goalkeeper in the French championship. When he signed for Villarreal, he felt like a goalkeeper again: “I am at the fullest moment of my career. I have learned from everything, from the good and the bad. I have enjoyed and suffered a lot and all that has brought me here, “he said.

Rulli came to Real Sociedad at a very young age from Estudiantes de La Plata, where he had won the Ubaldo Fillol trophy, the goalkeeper with the least thrashing, and broke the record for unbeaten in the history of his club. It was a great promise that came on loan from Manchester City, which had part of its rights together with an investment group, although it never got to train with the English club. He made his Europa League debut with little luck against Krasnodar, breaking his toe in the 85th minute. He was out of the game for three months. Little by little, he was taking over the ownership. In 2016 he played the Rio Olympic Games and entered the orbit of the albiceleste, with which he played two friendly matches, but entered a bump that distanced him from Real and the Argentine team.

Some bad performances came, and with them, the ups and downs of his relationship with the Real fans. When, after a loss to Rayo Vallecano in Anoeta, he was fired with whistles, he hit rock bottom: “My wife, Rocío, was waiting for me outside the locker room. She didn’t speak to me until we got home, and when we got there she started crying all night. It is then that one considers whether it is worth continuing here ”, he confessed then. He relied on Luis Llopis, the goalkeeping coach, and in talks with Imanol Ibarrondo, the coach and motivator of the squad, but he had already lost the confidence of the stands. His loan to Montpellier was possibly the best decision for Rulli. When he returned to Spain to sign for Villarreal, he felt full: “I have done things well and they have brought me to where I am now,” he pointed out. I did not know, then, that his name will be linked forever to the history of Villarreal for those two penalties, the one he took and the one he stopped, which made him a hero.

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